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How to build a content strategy: Motivate Connect’s Chris Capstick explains why thinking like a publisher can keep your content strategy on track

By Chris Capstick, publisher, Motivate Connect

With increasing numbers of clients and agencies reporting that 2018 is the year they will really ramp up their investment in content marketing, it is an exciting time to be at the forefront of regional content creation in social, digital and video.

The opportunity is enticing – brands can establish deeper connections with their customers simply through sharing their expertise. It is within reach for these brands to become the publishers themselves and reap all the benefits. But it is not without its challenges.

From our experience of producing content for some of the region’s largest organisations the key challenge facing marketers is to turn their intentions for increasing content output into a scalable marketing operation that produces consistently great content consumers actually care about.

It is not enough to produce one blog post every six weeks and expect readers to keep coming back to your website. That cool video you shot only works in the long term if your audience has a reason to keep returning and enjoying more of the good stuff.

For content marketing to be a success it must be viewed as an ongoing strategy rather than an ad hoc campaign tactic.

That means implementing a creative editorial process and maintaining a content production framework to ensure regular delivery of engaging stories.

In short, marketers need to think like publishers.

Here are the top three things to consider when planning your 2018 content marketing strategy:

1) Decide who you are talking to and what you want to say

Understand and document the buyer personas of your customer base and approach content creation with your different target audiences in mind. The basis of your content marketing strategy needs to be linked to the conversations you want to have with your audience.

Are you writing for existing customers or do you want to generate new ones?

Does your audience need informational content to help them make purchasing decisions; or do you want to feed them fun content to strengthen their affinity to your brand?

Is it appropriate to use short-form content such as social videos or infographics, or does your audience need detailed content in the form of white papers or podcasts?

When making these decisions it’s important to act like a brand journalist by creating pull content your customers want to engage with rather than push content that forces your message onto them. Tell, don’t sell. It’s too easy for customers to switch off so give them content that keeps them tuned in.

2) Establish a content production process

The big question is: do you go all-in and hire staff for a dedicated internal content studio, or do you outsource to an agency?

Whatever you choose it is essential you produce a content calendar to define the frequency of your output, and set a production process that allows sufficient time to create the content, seek internal approvals and publish on the dates specified on the content calendar.

As all publishers know, hitting deadlines is a key success factor in reaching your audience at the right time. Don’t underestimate how internal roadblocks that delay the release of your content can affect the veracity of your message. Establish a content working group and make sure daily, weekly and monthly deadlines are adhered to and all internal stakeholders are aware of their obligations, provide timely approvals and are on-plan with the content objectives and how they relate to the wider organisational marketing strategy.

3. Invest in distribution

Distribution is a key element of the content marketing mix, but a lot of brands neglect to promote their content outside of their owned media. What’s the point of creating great content if nobody is listening, reading or watching?

Getting ROI on your content requires persistent and consistent promotion across paid media.  Do not assume your customers are flocking to your brand channels every day. If you want to create a loyal, engaged and growing audience, then find where (and when) they are consuming content and invest in sharing your stories with them through their favourite media.