Although 93% of B2B companies are doing content marketing, less than half view themselves as successful with it. However, companies with a documented content marketing strategy are three times as likely to say their efforts are “very” or “extremely” effective as those without one. So—creating a content marketing strategy is vital.
Content marketers have a number of models to consider when developing their strategies, such as the platform model, Mark Schaefer’s “liquid” model, and the ACKTT framework (for Audiences-Competitors-Keywords-Topics-Tactics).
Another promising approach is to think like a journalist. As Daniel Newman and Michael Brenner discussed in Forbes, brand journalism is the evolution of content marketing–so applying a journalistic approach to content marketing strategy makes a lot of sense.
Just as thinking like a reporter can help when developing your social media strategy, two key concepts in journalism can be useful in content marketing: the five-w’s-plus-h reporter’s questions, and the inverted pyramid.
The Reporter’s Questions
Reporters are taught to ask key questions to get the story. These same six questions can provide the basis for formulating your content marketing strategy.
Who: Start by thinking very specifically about the audience for your content. Craft detailed buyer personas to help with your understanding of buyer needs, interests, and concerns. Though it may sound cliché, it’s essential to know “what keeps them up at night” to enable you to build the vision of a solution.
What: There are multiple “what” questions involved in content strategy, starting with: what exactly is the solution to the buyers’ pains that you are offering? What are your key messages? What you want prospects to feel, and need them to understand about the value you provide?
Where: For each content element, will it be delivered to the audience at a live event, in print, on TV, online, or elsewhere? If it’s online and text, will it be on your blog, in an online publication, on another influential industry blog, on a platform like LinkedIn Pulse or Medium, on Facebook, or on some combination of these and other web venues? For video content, will it be on YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, your blog, or all of the above?
When: “When” questions can apply in a couple of different contexts. One consideration relates to timing of publication: if the content is tied to breaking industry news, an event, or is seasonal, then careful scheduling is required that wouldn’t apply to more general, “evergreen” types of content.
Another consideration is “when” in the buying cycle is a specific piece of content important to a specific buyer? This is the essence of marketing automation: delivering the right content to the right audience at the right time to turn prospects into leads, leads into customers, and customers into advocates.
Why: Of course it’s essential to articulate why each piece of content is important to buyers, and why it matters to them. But “why” also applies at a much more fundamental business level: why should people want to do business with you? What is your company’s broader mission, in terms of moving the industry forward, empowering users, helping the environment, or otherwise improving life in general?
How: Finally there is the question of format, of how the content will be delivered. This may include text (blog posts, articles, ebooks, lists, guides, reports, etc.), infographics, presentations, video, audio, photography or other media.
Ideally, your content strategy should identify not only the original format for a piece of content but also the opportunities to repurpose it (e.g., a list can start as a blog post then be repurposed as a presentation, an infographic, and as part of an ebook).
The Inverted Pyramid
Reporters, particularly in print media, are taught to write stories in the inverted pyramid method: begin by summarizing the main points of the story, then progressively providing more detail about the events, individuals, location, and other elements of the story.
In content marketing, this structure may apply well to certain types of content such as case studies, press releases, and “news” type blog posts. Other structural designs work better for different types of content.
But the inverted pyramid model (or similarly the rocks, pebbles and sand analogy) can also be valuable for overall content planning. Develop your content marketing strategy starting with the big idea, theme, or brand message you want to communicate, then build that out into more detailed examination of element or sub point.
For example, the core concept behind the Webbiquity blog is the web presence optimization (WPO) model. It was the topic of one of the very first posts here, and the WPO model has evolved since then. The content strategy here started with that big idea, then led to streams of posts exploring individual elements of the model in more detail; for example, from the social presence pillar to the basics of b2b social media strategy, to research about social networks, then finally to highly granular topics like expert Twitter tips.
Just as no single social media marketing strategy works for every type of B2B company, no single model is best in all cases for developing a strategy. But given that having a documented strategy is a key element of content marketing success, it’s vital to examine different frameworks and pick one that works for you. Thinking like a reporter is one approach that may be useful in developing an effective strategy for your business.