5 steps to create a content marketing strategy

Estimated read time: 6 minutes

As they say, action can beat inaction, and the same is true when it comes to the time when we create a content marketing strategy. But what are the steps to take to move the idea and concept of our content into reality? So let’s dive into that topic in this article.

This topic came top of mind when I was chatting with content expert Cathy McKnight on the Business Storytelling Show. Strategy is essential, but it won’t do us any good if it’s not implemented. Using the content operations framework can help teams implement more successfully.

In the episode, we discussed the topic of content operations and how we move content forward in a way that makes it valuable and efficient for a company.

1. Set up content operations

Content operations refer to the setup in a company of a content team, its workflows, and processes. Therefore, setting up the proper content ops framework is essential as it can help us implement content strategy correctly.

It defines:

  • Roles and responsibilities, including who edits and approves what
  • Timelines
  • Workflows and steps to take in projects to implement content strategy
  • Commitments to content output and results

Cathy mentioned in the episode that the model of content ops could be used for any size team, including when a company has just one content marketer. That content marketer most likely is not working in a vacuum and is working with experts for content, stakeholders, and others for ideas, reviews, and approvals.

Read next: How long does it take to write a blog post?

2. Starting with the strategy

Indeed, we need to start here, and we should document the strategy even if it’s at a high level.

We want to start thinking about how we implement our culture of strategic writing – or content creation in general. First, determine your story, the topics you should cover on your various channels for your target audience, and define workflows to share stories so that they are most meaningful to your audience.

Read next: How to create a minimal viable workflow in content marketing

First, we need to determine the centerpiece content asset of our strategy. This could be your blog, your webinars, or your podcast. My blog is my centerpiece content asset, but a lot of the content here is inspired and draws from the range discussed on my Business Storytelling Show Podcast.

So, while my No. 1 goal is to grow the blog, the email list, and so forth, that might not be possible without running a successful podcast that reaches an audio audience and enables me to create better content on here.

3. Determining the workflow

As a next step, we have to determine and agree upon the workflow, which includes addressing who does what and the frequency of content. For example, that can include:

  • 1-3 livestreams and podcasts per week
  • 1-2 in-depth blog posts per week
  • 1-4 optimized and updated content pieces that already exist

From there, determine how these items are created. What platform to use for the live stream and podcast? I use Restream to multistream and then publish my podcast to all the podcast networks via Anchor.

I prefer to create directly in WordPress, and editing can happen there. However, even if you can’t follow the write-in-WordPress process, have a collaborative discussion about what techniques and tools should be used.

4. Technology to create a content marketing strategy

I’ve seen plenty of fantastically written content strategies that were never implemented. Or they were only implemented partially and with less success than was possible. Why? Because the plan wasn’t implemented into the daily workflow. For example, if I agreed to publish a podcast and update the blog, I need to find a way to make sure I remember to work on those items.

One way is to use the calendar and block off recurring time:

  • Do the podcast at this time
  • Prep for the podcast at this other time
  • Publish everything during another time block

It can look similar for the blog.

Templated checklists to create a content marketing strategy

Another way, and perhaps a more structured one, is to use templated checklists. You can do that in Trello and many other project management software solutions. Many of the tasks I follow to create a livestream and podcast and then later an article are the same.

  • Book a guest
  • Finalize the topic based on their expertise and keyword research
  • Create a cover image
  • Schedule and promote the show
  • Interview the guest on-air
  • Download the file and edit (as necessary)
  • Publish the podcast and send the file to DB&A Television
  • Promotions of the episode (as necessary)
  • Guest follow-up (for example, I always share the episode with my guests and usually ask them to consider leaving a review as well)

Writing or updating an existing blog post can look similar:

  • Keyword analysis to narrow down content angle
  • Finalize the topic or identify existing content that needs to be updated
  • Design cover image
  • Identify previously recorded podcast episodes that could be added
  • Create an outline
  • Start writing
  • Self-edit
  • To an editor
  • Publish
  • Promote

Those steps are pretty repeatable and can quickly become a templated list that can be checked off in a digital project management tool.

Carrie Hane of sanity.io also joined me on the podcast to discuss how content ops can make technology decisions. Technology can make our lives so much easier, but don’t expect it to solve crazy internal conflicts. We still have to determine the process and be accountable to each other to make it work.

5. Accountability

To keep going is an essential component of a successful content marketing strategy. That’s where the importance of accountability comes in.

Using the right technology can also help us be accountable to ourselves and our teams. I know that I pay attention when Trello pings me to let me know a task is due soon. You can also easily pull up the checklists in meetings to see where bottlenecks exist and where other team members might be able to help.

Holly Adams joined me on the podcast to discuss accountability in the workplace and offers an accountability worksheet on her website.

It’s super important to document and reflect on the weekly wins and areas of improvement. Holly even says it’s not just about accountability but it’s also about the personal reflection. If I know what went well it’s something to feel good about. And the things that can be improved are tasks we can focus on next week.

A good content strategy can drive results, but only when it’s done correctly, integrated into the day-to-day, and is implemented strategically. That means actually creating a well-thought-out strategy and then finding a way to implement it into the daily workflow in the most efficient way.

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