In recent years, most marketers have taken the cliché phrase "content is king" to heart, making content the core of their overall advertising strategy. Even brand new businesses are aware of the importance of content, but it's often overwhelming to build your first content marketing strategy from the ground up. How much attention should be given to blogging, social media posts, email newsletters and videos – and what topics should you cover for each?
Fortunately, the experts of Forbes Agency Council have a wealth of experience in content planning, so we asked a panel of them for their best advice. Here's what they had to say.
1. Think About The Unique Perspective You Can Offer Customers
Too often, companies focus on just what they think is a great representation of their brand or what's trending. But then content feels inauthentic or redundant. You have to start by identifying what your specific consumers want and what you can provide that's unique in that area. It has to be something they're not already getting. Then, map it back to your brand and current trends. - Craig Greiwe, Rogers & Cowan
2. Focus On Your Brand Strategy First
First, nail your brand strategy: assets, benefits and your reason for being amidst your competitors. Let that be your compass for the team, and the content will flow around it. Your message and engagement will be a lot more consistent. Know your budget so your parameters are realistic. Develop an annual calendar so you're all on point. If you're focused, everyone will have a lot more fun. - Sean Looney, Looney Advertising & Branding
3. Follow The News
The content that reaches the widest audience and goes viral tends to be content that maps to the news. The key here is to not just synthesize the news. Rather, offer insight into why something is happening and, better yet, how it impacts your current and prospective customer base. If you follow this formula often enough, you become a go-to source for industry thought leadership. - Ethan Parker, Treble
4. Identify The Specific Goal And Audience Of Your Content
Content is asset development. It's the furniture in an apartment. I think of content as key artifacts that develop or communicate brand identity through a story. The most important tip is to answer these questions ahead of developing a content strategy: What is the goal of the content? Who are you speaking to and where is the best place to reach them? What content should you create? - Jeeyan Rostam-Abadi, Hawke Media LLC
5. Be Authentic
Let the voice of your content happen organically. Be authentic. Speak to what you know and are passionate about. Go to some industry conferences. As a business owner, you could easily be accepted to speak on panels that cover your industry specialty. Then, connect with an industry trade organization to become a contributing author and establish your thought leadership. - Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, hawthornedirect.com
6. Capitalize On Your Expertise
Hunker down and figure out what makes your business or startup unique. Is it a niche service you provide? A rare understanding of a particular field? Assess your forte, then plan a content strategy that speaks to your unique expertise. It's very likely that other businesses are already hungry for some of that knowledge, and delivering it to them as content will prove beneficial to your strategy. - Priscila Martinez, The Brand Agency
7. Provide Solutions To Your Customers' Primary Business Challenges
I always start with a customer focus. As you dive into a content strategy, think of your customers' business challenges. Your content should demonstrate your understanding of those challenges and provide clear-cut solutions for addressing them. It should be less about how awesome your company is and more about helping customers and prospects work better, smarter and faster. - Paula Chiocchi, Outward Media, Inc.
8. Know Your Customer Well
The best way to ensure content marketing will be effective for generating new business is to have a crystal clear picture of your target customer before creating a single piece of content. Every content decision – including format, tone, subject matter and promotion channel – should be based on this specific persona. If you nail this, your content marketing campaign will successfully attract new customers. - Keri Witman, Cleriti
9. Don't Copy Your Bigger Competitors
A common mistake I see is when new or small businesses create content that already exists on a larger and more sophisticated scale. For example, if you're a small bank, don't create content that Chase or Bank of America already covers. Stick to issues that are locally relevant or niche to your products. Then, you won't be competing with duplicate content and what you do create is more searchable. - Kelli Corney, Mightily