Content marketing needs a solid content strategy, the second step of the content marketing lifecycle. Both high value content and a deliberate strategy are necessary for a content marketing initiative to meet its potential. Great content without an orchestrated strategy won’t accomplish your goals, neither will a brilliantly planned strategy devoid of quality content resonate with your target audiences and advance your business objectives.

Perceived value is crucial

Unless your content aligns with the interests and needs of your audience, providing them with some perceived value, it will not have an impact. They won’t read it or share it, and they won’t come back for more.

Lee Traupel of Linked Media Group defines high value content as “good, high-quality content that resonates with target market segments.” In Lee’s white paper, Creating High Value Content, he identifies these attributes of high value content:

  • Addresses those issues your target audience/s face
  • Provides information that is important to them
  • Answers questions about products and/or services
  • Motivates them to take the next step in the buyer journey
  • Is engaging enough to share throughout their social networks

In order for your content to do all that, you have to really know your audience: who they are, what motivates them, lifestyle choices, where they “live” online and what types of content they prefer.

Generational differences impact content

Can you envision your parents or grandparents consuming the same content that you or your children gravitate to? Probably not. Although more and more seniors are going online and becoming “social savvy,” that doesn’t mean the content sought would be the same. Content needs to be customized and tailored to the different market segments. What captivates a million Millennials or Generation Zers will probably turn off an equal amount of Boomers or Gen Xers.

Generational considerations are becoming more critical in content marketing. The types of content encountered along a buyer’s journey can influence decision making, whether to proceed to the next step or bounce if the content doesn’t engage. Lee explains, “If they’re a Boomer, they’re probably going to look for content that doesn’t have as much of a story, content with more structure to it. If they’re a younger demographic, Millennial or other, they’re probably going to look for something that’s cooler, hipper, that’s got more of a mode of content to it, maybe breezier and lighter.”

Great storytelling is still the focus of your content. But while the same story or emotion may resonate across multiple generations, the presentation of the story/content should vary for maximum engagement. Boomers would likely respond to a well-written, entertaining blog post, with Millennials preferring a high-energy video on their phones.

Establishing a strategic content marketing initiative

  • What is your marketing budget?
  • What are your defined goals and measurement capabilities?
  • Who is your target audience/s?
  • Do you have in-house resources or do you need to outsource production?
  • What types of content do you want to produce?
  • What issues, pain or problems are our customers trying to solve?
  • What questions are our customers asking?
  • What keywords and phrases do they use to find us online (SEO)?
  • Where do they “hang out” online?
  • What are we doing now that most engages our customers?

Answering these questions will help determine the structure of your strategy. If you’re new to content marketing, using an experienced agency or consultant can help to navigate the waters. You’ll be able to draw on the success of someone who’s “been there, done that,” and set in place proven processes that will best serve to meet your goals.

Working within a content marketing lifecycle, such as the seven step lifecycle delineated in the Examiner–Goals, Strategy, Calendar, Produce, Publish, Engage and Measure—will also provide the structure and focus necessary for a successful content marketing strategy.

You can’t have one without the other

Content and strategy have to go hand-in-hand. Rahel Bailie of Intentional Design, Inc. describes it this way: “You’ve got those two sides that have to work together to make it happen, because if you use content strategy and bad content all you’re going to do is redistribute bad content more efficiently. If you just use the other side without the content strategy, then you’ve got great content but it might not be able to be leveraged as the business asset that it is, if you don’t have the infrastructure and technology to be able to do it. So it’s marrying those two sides.”

Join the Conversation:

  • What processes have you used to define your target audiences and determine their information needs?
  • How do you ensure that your content creation is in alignment with your strategic goals?
  • What challenges do you face in creating high quality content to fuel your content marketing strategy?
This article highlights selected excerpts from CMX’s interview with Lee Traupel of Linked Media Group, and Martin van der Roest of the Examiner on the topic of High Value Content Fuels an Effective Content Marketing Strategy– August 23, 2013.