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How To Write a 1-Page Content Marketing Strategy: 6 Easy-to-Follow Steps

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How To Write a 1-Page Content Marketing Strategy: 6 Easy-to-Follow Steps

Without a written strategy, your brand’s content marketing won’t reach its potential. Think about it.

Without a written strategy:

  • Your content marketing is less likely to align with organizational goals.
  • You have a hard time securing leadership and budget support.
  • You risk internal, external, and adjacent content teams going in multiple directions.
  • You spend more time onboarding and re-educating your team.

Without a written strategy, you are like most content marketers, just not the most successful ones.

Without a documented strategy, you’re like most #content marketers. Just not the successful ones, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

A documented strategy correlates with success

The Content Marketing Institute asks about documented content marketing strategies in its annual research. Most recently, only 40% of B2B marketers and 39% of B2C marketers said they have one. (And no, the people who say they have a strategy but don’t write it down don’t count. An unwritten “strategy” is whatever anyone says it is.)

But the CMI research shows having a documented content marketing strategy differentiates the top performers from average or poor performers. Consider this stat for overall marketing from CoSchedule’s Trend Report: Marketing Strategies 2022: Marketers with a documented strategy are 414% more likely to report success than those who don’t.

So why don’t more content leaders write down their strategies?

Writing a strategy takes time. And many wonder whether the time invested will pay off. Will anyone on the team read the whole thing or remember what’s in it?

That’s why I’m a big advocate of creating a one-page content marketing strategy. The abbreviated format means you can create it quickly and explain it concisely. People you share it with will be more likely to read and remember it. (Heck, they could pin it to their bulletin board or make it their screensaver.)

Let’s walk through six steps to create your one-page content marketing strategy. But first, review your business’ operational objectives and goals. Your content marketing program won’t be successful if it doesn’t align with what your organization wants to achieve.

Your #ContentMarketing program won’t be successful if it doesn’t align with what your organization wants to achieve, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Step 1: Set the content marketing objective

Knowing what your business executives want to achieve, consider how content marketing will help. At this point, you’re looking for a general content marketing objective, not specific tactics or topics.

Example

For this exercise, I’ll use the faux Chickadee Credit Union as the organization creating a one-page content marketing strategy. The credit union is a member-based organization that offers services similar to banks in its community.

Here’s what their pre-step and step one look like:

  • Business objective: To increase the belief that Chickadee Credit Union is a good source for loans (home, personal, and auto)
  • Business goal: To increase all types of loan applications by 10% (year over year) from CCU members
  • Content marketing objective: To become a go-to content resource for credit union members interested in personal finance topics

The business objective is specific (raise awareness and trust in Chickadee as a lender), and the goal is measurable (increase loan applications by 10%). With that understanding, the content marketing team identified an objective that could ultimately help CCU achieve that goal (becoming a go-to resource on personal finance.)

Now, the work begins to define the path to achieving that content marketing objective.

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Step 2: Define the audience

It’s tempting to detail a broad audience – after all, you may think, the more people who consume your content, the more people to help you achieve the business goals.

Resist that temptation because it’s ineffective. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to create content that works well for as many audience segments as possible. Instead, pick one primary audience and, possibly, a secondary audience. To do this, research your potential audiences. Look at the relevant data – demographics, sociographics, interests, needs, and pain points. Detail how and where people in that group currently get information related to your general topic (as mentioned in your content marketing objective.)

Then, ask who would be most interested in your company’s content topic. If you need to narrow it further, ask who would be most interested in the topic and more likely to take the desired action to achieve the business’ operational goal.

Example

Chickadee Credit Union considered several audiences interested in personal finance content. But when the content marketing team asked which of those audiences would be more likely to apply for a loan in the next five years, they narrowed it down to one – parents with at least one young child.

CCU included these attributes of their target audience (parents with at least one young child) in their strategy:

  • Member of Chickadee Credit Union
  • Overseer of their family’s budget
  • Expect their living and transportation needs to evolve in the next five years
  • Challenged by balancing the family’s space and transportation requirements as the family grows
  • Crunched for time in all aspects of their life

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Step 3: Identify content categories and topics

Knowing and describing your audience opens the window to content. What would this group of people want to read, watch, or listen to that’s related to your content marketing objective?

Brainstorm a list of content ideas – big ideas, specific story angles, or both. As you review the list, put a star next to the ones that would benefit your target audience the most.

Identify several broad themes. List sample story topics that would fall under those categories to help people better understand related ideas and envision new possibilities.

Example

Chickadee Credit Union opted for three categories – home life, car travel, and free or low-cost fun. All those themes work well for parents of young children who are interested in personal finance and someday might apply for a home, auto, or personal loan. Then, they added specific story angles under each category:

  • Living at home
    • How to create a multipurpose living room (story topics)
    • The best furniture fabric for families
    • Time-saving cleaning tips
  • Traveling by car
    • Emergency tools every car should have
    • Tailgate picnics when your vehicle doesn’t have a tailgate
    • Apps to find the best gas prices
  • Free or low-cost fun
    • Be a tourist in your own town
    • Help your children make their own board games

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Step 4: Detail content types and formats

Deciding on content formats and types is closely tied to step five (distribution channels). Ask two questions:

  1. How would the target audience most want to consume the content?
  2. Which of those formats fit within available resources and capabilities?

Be realistic. For example, your audience might enjoy videos. But if no one on your team has video skills and you have no budget to hire or outsource, don’t choose video as one of your formats.

Example

Chickadee Credit Union found that parents value multiple formats. It identified five for its content marketing strategy, including a mix of digital content types and print:

  • Blog articles
  • E-newsletters
  • Social media posts
  • Print newsletter
  • Video

Step 5: List distribution channels and frequency

Often, your chosen format will lean toward a general delivery channel. But be as specific as possible in detailing where your content distribution priorities lie.

For example, you might distribute an article on your company’s blog or a third-party website. You might distribute a social media post through Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.

At this point, you also need to look at the available resources to create, publish, and promote the content. What is the minimum amount of each content type this group can produce?

TIP: Don’t be overly ambitious. Pick a frequency you can realistically meet. You can always increase it later.

Example

Chickadee Credit Union’s strategy specifies frequency and distribution channels for their content formats:

  • Blog articles: 3 times weekly; CCU website
  • E-newsletter: 1 time a month; CCU subscriber database
  • Tweets: 1 time a day; CCU handle
  • Facebook: three times weekly; CCU Facebook page
  • Newsletter: two times a year; CCU & partner physical locations
  • Video: two times a year; CCU YouTube channel

With the format, platform, and frequency determined, CCU detailed the categories (from step three) for each format and planned to:

  • Rotate the three categories for each blog post as well as social media posts
  • Include all three categories in the e-newsletter and print newsletter
  • Make the travel-by-car category the theme for videos

Step 6: Connect to the business purpose

Now, you’re ready to go back to the beginning. It’s time to add the goals to your content marketing objective (step one).

Consider:

  1. What do you want your audience to do after consuming a piece of content?
  2. How will you measure success?
  3. What are the specific goals (remember to tie them to the business’ operational goals)?
  4. How long will you have to achieve them?

Example

If you recall, CCU wanted to increase loan applications by 10% year over year. To help contribute to that goal, the content marketing team wanted to become the go-to resource for personal finance. Here are their measurable content marketing goals:

  • To increase awareness of CCU as the go-to resource for family-focused personal finance topics
    • Increase visits to blog pages on site by 10% each month
  • To grow the database of members who want content from CCU
    • Increase member e-newsletter sign-up number by 20% each quarter
  • To convert member subscribers into loan applicants
    • Grow the number of member subscribers who also apply for a loan (personal, home, or auto) by 5% over a year

Notice how their measurable content marketing goals ultimately lead to the business operational goal.

Now, CCU has its one-page content marketing strategy:

AUDIENCE (clearly defined)

CCU members who are parents/guardians of at least one young child; oversee their family’s budgets; likely to see living and transportation needs evolve in the next five years; are challenged by balancing a growing family’s space and transportation requirements; crunched for time

CATEGORIES/TOPICS (content angles relevant and valuable to the audience)

  • Living at home • Traveling by car • Free or low-cost fun opportunities

FORMATSDISTRIBUTION CHANNELS – FREQUENCY (deliver in relevant channels consistently)

  • Blog – CCU website – 3x a week
  • E-newsletter – Database – 1x a month
  • Print newsletter – CCU physical location – 2x a year
  • Video – YouTube – 2x a year
  • Social Posts – Twitter 1x a day; Facebook 2x a week

CALLS to ACTIONS w/ MEASURABLE GOALS (customer action)

  • To increase awareness of CCU as the go-to resource for family-focused personal finance topics
    • Increase visits to blog pages on site by 10% each month
  • To grow the database of members who want content from CCU
    • Increase member e-newsletter sign-up number by 20% each quarter
  • To convert member subscribers into loan applicants
    • Grow the number of member subscribers who also apply for a loan (personal, home, or auto) by 5% over a year

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One more thing: Plan to revisit the content marketing strategy

Once you complete step six, your content marketing strategy is documented and ready to use. But I recommend an honorary seventh step. Too often, content marketers get so focused on execution that they forget to review their documented strategy regularly to make sure the goals and decisions remain valid.

Revisit the strategy when:

  • Goal timeframes have concluded
  • Triggers or events happen within your organization (i.e., a reduction in content marketing resources, the addition of new technology or platform)
  • Triggers or events happen outside your organization (i.e., a pandemic, a shift in consumer behavior)
  • Operational strategic planning is changed or updated (i.e., a new business goal, a new vision plan)

Don’t forget to review your #ContentMarketing strategy regularly to make sure goals and decisions remain valid, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

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Start writing

OK, now you know documenting a content marketing strategy isn’t overly difficult. You probably have a lot of the answers already. So set aside time to pull it all together in one document, then share it with all the stakeholders involved.

And next year, you’ll find yourself on the right side of the survey. You’ll have a documented content marketing strategy that helps you achieve your content and organizational goals.

Give it a try and let me know how it works for you.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute



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The Future of Content Success Is Social

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The Future of Content Success Is Social

Here’s a challenge: search “SEO RFP” on Google. Click on the results, and tell me how similar they are.

We did the same thing every other SEO does: We asked, “What words are thematically relevant?” Which themes have my competitors missed?” How can I put them in?” AND “How can I do everything just slightly better than they can?”

Then they do the same, and it becomes a cycle of beating mediocre content with slightly less mediocre content.

When I looked at our high-ranking content, I felt uncomfortable. Yes, it ranked, but it wasn’t overly helpful compared to everything else that ranked.

Ranking isn’t the job to be done; it is just a proxy.

Why would a high-ranking keyword make me feel uncomfortable? Isn’t that the whole freaking job to be done? Not for me. The job to be done is to help educate people, and ranking is a byproduct of doing that well.

I looked at our own content, and I put myself in the seat of a searcher, not an SEO; I looked at the top four rankings and decided that our content felt easy, almost ChatGPT-ish. It was predictable, it was repeatable, and it lacked hot takes and spicy punches.

So, I removed 80% of the content and replaced it with the 38 questions I would ask if I was hiring an SEO. I’m a 25-year SME, and I know what I would be looking for in these turbulent times. I wanted to write the questions that didn’t exist on anything ranking in the top ten. This was a risk, why? Because, semantically, I was going against what Google was likely expecting to see on this topic. This is when Mike King told me about information gain. Google will give you a boost in ranking signals if you bring it new info. Maybe breaking out of the sea of sameness + some social signals could be a key factor in improving rankings on top of doing the traditional SEO work.

What’s worth more?

Ten visits to my SEO RFP post from people to my content via a private procurement WhatsApp group or LinkedIn group?

One hundred people to the same content from search?

I had to make a call, and I was willing to lose rankings (that were getting low traffic but highly valued traffic) to write something that when people read it, they thought enough about it to share it in emails, groups, etc.

SME as the unlock to standout content?

I literally just asked myself, “Wil, what would you ask yourself if you were hiring an SEO company? Then I riffed for 6—8 hours and had tons of chats with ChatGPT. I was asking ChatGPT to get me thinking differently. Things like, “what would create the most value?” I never constrained myself to “what is the search volume,” I started with the riffs.

If I was going to lose my rankings, I had to socially promote it so people knew it existed. That was an unlock, too, if you go this route. It’s work, you are now going to rely on spikes from social, so having a reason to update it and put it back in social is very important.

Most of my “followers” aren’t looking for SEO services as they are digital marketers themselves. So I didn’t expect this post to take off HUGLEY, but given the content, I was shocked at how well it did and how much engagement it got from real actual people.

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7 Things Creators Should Know About Marketing Their Book

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7 Things Creators Should Know About Marketing Their Book

Writing a book is a gargantuan task, and reaching the finish line is a feat equal to summiting a mountain.

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Being position-less secures a marketer’s position for a lifetime

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Optimove Positionless Marketer Optimove

On March 20, 2024, the Position-less Marketer was introduced on MarTech.org and my keynote address at Optimove’s user conference.

Since that initial announcement, we have introduced the term “Position-less Marketer” to hundreds of leading marketing executives and learned that readers and the audience interpreted it in several ways. This article will document a few of those interpretations and clarify what “position-less” means regarding marketing prowess.

As a reminder, data analytics and AI, integrated marketing platforms, automation and more make the Position-less Marketer possible. Plus, new generative AI tools like ChatGPT, Canna-GPT, Github, Copilot and DALL-E offer human access to powerful new capabilities that generate computer code, images, songs and videos, respectively, with human guidance.

Position-less Marketer does not mean a marketer without a role; quite the opposite

Speaking with a senior-level marketer at a global retailer, their first interpretation may be a marketer without a role/position. This was a first-glance definition from more than 60% of the marketers who first heard the term. But on hearing the story and relating it to “be position-less” in other professions, including music and sports, most understood it as a multidimensional marketer — or, as we noted, realizing your multipotentiality. 

One executive said, phrasing position-less in a way that clarified it for me was “unlocking your multidimensionality.” She said, “I like this phrase immensely.” In reality, the word we used was “multipotentiality,” and the fact that she landed on multidimensionality is correct. As we noted, you can do more than one thing.

The other 40% of marketing executives did think of the “Position-less Marketer” as a marketing professional who is not confined or defined by traditional marketing roles or boundaries. In that sense, they are not focused only on branding or digital marketing; instead, they are versatile and agile enough to adjust to the new conditions created by the tools that new technology has to offer. As a result, the Position-less Marketer should be comfortable working across channels, platforms and strategies, integrating different approaches to achieve marketing goals effectively.

Navigating the spectrum: Balancing specialization and Position-less Marketing

Some of the most in-depth feedback came from data analytic experts from consulting firms and Chief Marketing Officers who took a more holistic view.

Most discussions of the “Position-less Marketer” concept began with a nuanced perspective on the dichotomy between entrepreneurial companies and large enterprises.

They noted that entrepreneurial companies are agile and innovative, but lack scalability and efficiency. Conversely, large enterprises excel at execution but struggle with innovation due to rigid processes.

Drawing parallels, many related this to marketing functionality, with specialists excelling in their domain, but needing a more holistic perspective and Position-less Marketers having a broader understanding but needing deep expertise.

Some argued that neither extreme is ideal and emphasized the importance of balancing specialization and generalization based on the company’s growth stage and competitive landscape.

They highlight the need for leaders to protect processes while fostering innovation, citing Steve Jobs’ approach of creating separate teams to drive innovation within Apple. They stress the significance of breaking down silos and encouraging collaboration across functions, even if it means challenging existing paradigms.

Ultimately, these experts recommended adopting a Position-less Marketing approach as a competitive advantage in today’s landscape, where tight specialization is common. They suggest that by connecting dots across different functions, companies can offer unique value to customers. However, they caution against viewing generalization as an absolute solution, emphasizing the importance of context and competitive positioning.

These marketing leaders advocate for a balanced marketing approach that leverages specialization and generalization to drive innovation and competitive advantage while acknowledging the need to adapt strategies based on industry dynamics and competitive positioning.

Be position-less, but not too position-less — realize your multipotentiality

This supports what was noted in the March 20th article: to be position-less, but not too position-less. When we realize our multipotentiality and multidimensionality, we excel as humans. AI becomes an augmentation.

But just because you can individually execute on all cylinders in marketing and perform data analytics, writing, graphics and more from your desktop does not mean you should.

Learn when being position-less is best for the organization and when it isn’t. Just because you can write copy with ChatGPT does not mean you will write with the same skill and finesse as a professional copywriter. So be position-less, but not too position-less.

Position-less vs. being pigeonholed

At the same time, if you are a manager, do not pigeonhole people. Let them spread their wings using today’s latest AI tools for human augmentation.

For managers, finding the right balance between guiding marketing pros to be position-less and, at other times, holding their position as specialists and bringing in specialists from different marketing disciplines will take a lot of work. We are at the beginning of this new era. However, working toward the right balance is a step forward in a new world where humans and AI work hand-in-hand to optimize marketing teams.

We are at a pivot point for the marketing profession. Those who can be position-less and managers who can optimize teams with flawless position-less execution will secure their position for a lifetime.

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