By Joe Pulizzi published October 7, 2009 Est Read Time: 4 min

The 4 Step Content Strategy Program – Content Strategy Simplified

Let's face it.  Content strategy is not easy.  Actually, it's pretty difficult.

Those that regularly read this blog know I've been covering it more recently:

Since releasing the Content Marketing Playbook (which is all tactical), I've been receiving more and more emails regarding where to start with a content strategy.  Here is a roadmap to follow to make sure you are on the right track.

Step 1: Define Your Marketing Goals

Goals like "we want more traffic to our website" and "our competitors are doing it" just don't cut it. Think of it this way: "What are the things that need to happen in order for the content program to continue?" Another good questions is "A year from today, what will be different in our business as a result of the content marketing program?"

Here are some direct sales-related examples:

  • More customers
  • More sales from current customers
  • Less customer turnover

There may be cost-saving goals:

  • Spend less on customer service costs
  • Spend less on traditional marketing to replace with more efficient content programs (to get similar results)
  • Get customers to talk about you more (new kind of public relations)

Whatever the goals are, make them tangible and put a number to them.  Recently I've been seeing more analytics-related goals (number of downloads, web traffic, mentions, etc.), but always believe you need to relate these back to an organizational goal (like the ones above) or you'll never be able to prove enough value.

Step 2: Determine Your Customers' Informational Needs

What kind of information do your customers need to help get their jobs done, or live happier lives, that directly relates to your expertise and, hopefully, your products and services.  For example, Hubspot develops content in and around online marketing.  Most of the educational content relates directly to their product (inbound marketing software as a service), but some doesn't. The point is that Hubspot understands the needs of their customers and delivers ongoing and consistent content around those needs. When they are ready to buy, Hubspot is there.

Remember, you need to position yourself as the industry expert. Find the "secret sauce" – the area between your customers' needs and your expertise. 

How do you get that information?

  • Listen using free tools like Google Alerts, Twitter Search or possibly a paid customer listening tool.
  • Read blogs in your industry.  Choose the top 15-20 and make it a point to have someone own this task.
  • Talk to your customer service and sales personnel.
  • Call your customers.
  • Send out email surveys.

Step 3: What Do You Want Your Customer or Prospect To Do?

To reach your ultimate objective in step one, what do you need your customers to do?

  • Share something with others
  • Download something
  • Call someone
  • Go somewhere
  • Buy something
  • Refer you to someone else

Note that these are all measurable actions.  If you can't find anything to measure, keep going back to the smallest increment that you can possibly measure.  For example, with the release of our Playbook, we are looking at a group of actions (downloads, mentions, enewsletter signups, service signups, consulting inquiries). These are prioritized and weighted. At certain increments, we'll measure, discuss and then tweak the program based on what we are seeing.

Step 4: Determine the Ultimate Product and Content Mix

Many novice content marketers start with this step first.  It's seems the most likely. "Let's do an eBook, or a weekly enewsletter." This is the wrong place to start.

If you did, go back and review steps one through three.  Once those are complete, then review these 42 content marketing examples and begin to test and tweak the ones that align best with your content strategy. Also note that many of these tactics can and should be integrated together (custom print magazine, digital magazine, and customer-focused community site may all be part of the same content program).

If you like this and need a bit more information to really take a committed step toward content marketing strategy, our book Get Content Get Customers will get you there.


Author: Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi is the bestselling author of seven content marketing books including his latest, Content Inc. He has founded four companies, including the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), and his newest venture, The Tilt. His podcast series, This Old Marketing with Robert Rose, has generated millions of downloads from over 150 countries. He is also the author of The Random Newsletter, delivered to thousands every two weeks. His Foundation, The Orange Effect, delivers speech therapy and technology services to children in 35 states. Follow him on Twitter @JoePulizzi.

Other posts by Joe Pulizzi

FOLLOW CONTENT MARKETING INSTITUTE ON SOCIAL