By Joe Pulizzi published September 10, 2009

The B.E.S.T. Method for Content Strategy (what you do before Content Marketing)

Core point: Don’t start executing on your content marketing until you have a sound content strategy.

Yes, easier said than done, but so many of us get infatuated with a tactic before really planning out what should happen and why. You wouldn’t build a car without a step-by-step plan, but many of us create an eBook, Facebook page, web content or custom magazine without a content strategy.

To address this, Newt Barrett and I covered the B.E.S.T. content strategy in Get Content Get Customers. The goal of asking the B.E.S.T. questions as part of your content marketing strategy is to find the intersection between your products/services and the information needs of your customers. Only then can you craft a content marketing approach that will deliver more sales, more customers, and more measurable results.


  • What action do we want our customers to take?
  • What effect must we achieve with them?
  • How will we measure their behavior?
  • How will we put them on the path to purchase (what exactly is the conversion)?

To sum up: How will you measure as a whole and what are the smaller measurements that tell the Return on Objective (ROO) story?


  • What do our buyers really need to know (not about our products, but about information and tasks relevant to what we have to offer)?
  • How does what they need to know align with the our unique expertise?
  • What will provide the most benefit personally or professionally?

To sum up: What’s the intersection between your expertise (as it relates to your products) and the informational/entertainment needs of your customers? That’s what I like the call the secret sauce!


  • Does this content marketing effort help us achieve our strategic goals?
  • Does it integrate with our other strategic initiatives?
  • Do we have executive support for this content strategy?

To sum up: I’ve seen too many custom content projects live outside of marketing and the overall strategic goals of the company.  To truly be successful, a content strategy needs to tell your brand story as it relates to your customers. Don’t let it live in a vacuum.


  • Have we precisely identified the prospects we want to target?
  • What are the different customer segments? Why are they different?
  • Do we really understand what motivates them?
  • Do we understand their professional roles?
  • Do we understand how they view the product or service we offer?

To sum up: Get a handle on the buyer persona for each of your customer segments. If you don’t know them well, how do you know what they need. (Excellent overview here on a buyer persona.)

How do you get this kind of information? Use these social media tools to create your own listening posts. Send out surveys. Call your customers. Talk to your salespeople.

And finally…

Once you have this information, and the executive team buys into this essential background information for your content strategy, then you can start developing the execution plan.

Also check out: Five Reasons Why Content Strategy Comes before Social Media

Author: Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi is the Founder of Content Marketing Institute, a UBM company, the leading education and training organization for content marketing, which includes the largest in-person content marketing event in the world, Content Marketing World. Joe is the winner of the 2014 John Caldwell Lifetime Achievement Award from the Content Council. Joe’s the author of five books, including his latest, Killing Marketing. His third book, Epic Content Marketing was named one of “Five Must Read Business Books of 2013” by Fortune Magazine. If you ever see Joe in person, he’ll be wearing orange. Follow him on Twitter @JoePulizzi.

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  • Walter

    You have spelled it out here. It is important to plan the B.E.S.T. areas before executing content marketing. Many online marketers get too excited that they forget this vital aspect. It will take time, it will take patience, but the reward is worth it. 🙂

  • John Bottom

    Joe – I like it; this is a really useful summary. As with many marketing initiatives, assumptions often replace real research at the early stages, and this will help me explain to clients that the fundamentals are essential to doing content marketing in the right way.

  • Scott

    It’s very important to have a clear strategy for any marketing initiatives. It would be like an well organized approach with set goals and methodologies instead of being wildly scattered.

  • g13 media

    Thanks for the social media tools Joe.

  • Paula Satow

    Totally agree that great content comes first. I encourage people to try so they can start by creating a great 30-second elevator pitch in just a few minutes. It’s free and easy.

  • Davida

    Starting with the end in mind is a great approach to take, like you mentioned in your article… it is good to decide what response you would want the reader to take from the start. Great tips.