6 Steps to Developing a Content Marketing Strategy for Your Startup
The core of a solid marketing engine is a killer content marketing strategy. This is what drives your marketing initiatives, increases brand awareness, and supports your pipeline. For startups especially, developing a content marketing strategy is a critical piece in driving business growth. According to the Content Marketing Institute:
- 67% of B2B marketers state that content marketing generates leads
- 72% believe content marketing educates target audiences
- 63% say content marketing builds customer loyalty
But for many startups, creating an effective strategy is no easy feat. That’s why we’ve put together a 6-step list to help you get started. Let’s dive in.
1. Determine Your Brand Voice
Developing a brand voice is crucial to developing an effective content marketing strategy, as it establishes a strong and distinctive identity for your company. A brand voice is the unique personality and tone that a brand uses to communicate with its audience.
It’s important to understand your brand voice as it stands today. And if it’s not resonating with your audience, it’s time to create a new tone, voice, and/or revamp your brand messaging.
By developing a clear and consistent brand voice, you can:
- Differentiate your company from competitors
- Build brand loyalty among customers
- Establish a sense of trust and credibility
To get started developing a brand voice, ask yourself and your team these questions:
- What personality traits does your brand have?
- Which word best describes your brand's tone of voice?
- What are some powerful words or phrases you want to ensure you include in your content?
The answers to these questions will be the catalyst for developing a standardized voice and key messaging for your brand.
2. Manage Keyword Research & SEO
As a startup with a tight budget, it can be challenging to find effective search engine optimization (SEO) tools to achieve higher rankings in search engine results pages (SERPs) without breaking the bank. But let us be the first to tell you that no content marketing strategy would be nearly as effective or successful without SEO. Luckily, there are many free tools *cough* Google *cough* at your fingertips.
Here’s how to tackle keyword research and SEO efficiently:
- Develop a preliminary list of seed keywords and key phrases based on your product and/or service offerings, your industry, and any other defining information.
- Use Google Search to find long-tail keywords (longer and more targeted keywords) and other relevant keywords and phrases.
- Leverage free tools such as Google Keyword Planner or Ahrefs’ Free Keyword Generator to identify the average search volume and keyword difficulty (how challenging it is to rank for a specific keyword).
- Compile all relevant keywords into a master list.
- Organize each keyword by the search volume (most to least).
- Remove any keywords that have a low search volume (less than 100 searches per month).
- Keep the list short of just about 20-30 keywords with a high search volume and a low keyword difficulty—these will be the keywords that you’ll want to leverage in your content!
From here, you’ll be able to optimize your blogs, landing pages, and other content for specific keywords you want your organization to rank highly for in search engines.
3. Conduct a Competitor Analysis
Knowing your competitors is the first step to outranking them. It’s also a crucial step in building your content marketing strategy. Before you start creating marketing content, it’s important to conduct a competitive analysis to gain a sense of the industry and its key players. Here’s how to do it:
4. Build Strategic Buyer Personas
Who are your ideal buyers? How do you know what they truly desire? What are they most in need of? How can your product or service solve their biggest pain points? Better yet, what are their pain points? When developing your content marketing strategy it’s important to get into the minds of your customers to build the most effective buyer personas.
Below, we’ve listed 5 steps to building effective buyer personas:
- Uncover trends in your contacts database to group contacts into segmented lists.
- Interview key business stakeholders to uncover details about each buyer persona from their perspective.
- Align with sales to pinpoint the demographics, firmographics, and characteristics of each buyer persona.
- Interview willing customers to directly learn from your personas
- Document each persona in an easily accessible place for both marketing and sales teams.
5. Kickstart Content Curation & Build an Editorial Calendar
Flailing around at the last minute to get a haphazard blog live or to bust out a piece of sales enablement collateral on the fly is not an effective content marketing strategy. Not to mention, curating content on a whim is stressful and most likely not very well thought out. Effective content marketing requires two things: a content curation plan and an editorial calendar.
The Content Curation Plan
A solid content curation plan will encompass all blog, collateral, and long-form abstracts for the upcoming month, or other specified time period appropriate for your team and your business.
Your content curation plan should be flexible and able to be updated on a continuous basis to drive your content initiatives and fuel your editorial calendar.
The Editorial Calendar
The purpose of an editorial calendar is to keep your team in lock-step and updated on content that is in progress, what’s coming up next, and where your initiatives are headed.
Your editorial calendar should be based on your curation plan and reflect the various blogs, collateral, email campaigns, and more that were included in your initial plan.
Pro Tip: Curate new content ideas and campaigns tailored to each of your buyer personas to maximize your content’s ability to resonate with target audiences.
6. Develop a Content Distribution Strategy
Sure, a strong content marketing strategy develops educational and relevant content. But what’s also critical is to develop a killer distribution strategy that targets your specific buyer personas and appropriate audiences by identifying the right channels and tactics to reach them. Below, we’ve listed 4 steps to generate an effective content distribution strategy:
Identify Distribution Channels
There are various channels to distribute your content, such as social media, email marketing, paid advertising, guest posting, and even influencer marketing. Identify the channels that are most effective for reaching your target audience. Consider: where do your target buyers hang out online?
Create a Distribution Schedule
Create a schedule for when and how you will distribute your content. This includes the frequency of content creation, the channels you will use, and the types of content you will share on each platform.
Implement Your Plan
Once you have developed your content distribution plan, it's time to put it into action. Be consistent with your distribution schedule and track your results. Measure the success of your content and make adjustments to your plan as needed.
Optimize Your Strategy
Over time, optimize your strategy based on the insights you gather. Analyze your audience's behavior, engagement, and conversion rates. Use this information to improve your content and distribution tactics.
Pro Tip: Be sure to diversify your content distribution so that you can meet your ideal customers where they are—whether that's on a certain social media channel, via email, or SMS.