Let’s start with some good news. The majority (52 percent) of manufacturing marketers are extremely or very committed to content marketing, according to “Manufacturing Content Marketing 2019—Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends”.
Most marketers understand that their customers seek relevant, educational information from suppliers. This information helps them do their jobs better and make more confident purchasing decisions. Providing this content to their audience is an essential part of winning business.
However, only 21 percent of manufacturing marketers have a documented content marketing strategy. That percentage needs to trend up, because a written content marketing strategy is often a key indicator of content marketing success.
Those B2B marketers that do have a written content marketing strategy say the top benefits of having a strategy are that it “aligns the team around common mission/goals” and “makes it easier to determine which types of content to develop.”
Those with a documented strategy are also more likely to consider themselves effective at content marketing and able to justify a higher percentage of marketing budget to be spent on content marketing.
Documenting Your Content Marketing Strategy
If you don’t have a documented content marketing strategy, it’s time to get started on writing one. There’s no single template to use, because every company’s needs are unique. It may be helpful to think of your document as a business plan, especially if you need executive buy-in, and you should include the following key components:
What pain points and/or challenges are you trying to address through content marketing and what do you hope to accomplish? You might be focused on creating brand awareness, building thought leadership, nurturing leads, lead conversion or some combination of these goals. Write down a mission statement to serve as your content marketing guidepost.
If you don’t engage in content marketing, what will happen? What will you lose out on? On the other hand, if you do devote time, effort and resources to content marketing, what are the opportunity costs? What must sacrifice to be successful at content marketing?
You can’t do everything, so your documented strategy should address why content marketing is the best path to follow over other potential plans of marketing action.
What obstacles need to be overcome to achieve success in content marketing? You might want to segment obstacles into two buckets. Separate factors you can control, such as getting executive buy-in, developing content and choosing channels for content distribution from factors that are beyond your control, such as shifting market dynamics and competition.
Your documented strategy should outline the resources required to achieve your goals. These include people to create and design content, marketers to manage programs, and budgets. Identify who is on the content marketing team and what secondary people are needed to support a successful content marketing strategy (such as IT or website personnel or your media partners).
Who are you trying to reach through your content marketing efforts? The best way to clearly identify audiences is to create buyer personas. This includes detailed descriptions of the different customers you have or want to reach that are much more effective that vague definitions that only include title, industry and demographics. Here’s a helpful article on creating buyer personas.
A message map is a grid of what you will say, who you will say it to, and when you will say it. This will be the most detailed component of your document.
On one axis of your grid are the stages of your customers’ buying process: needs awareness, research, consideration and comparison, and purchase. The other axis contains your different buyer personas. The fields within the grid include the content delivered to that person at that stage in the buying process.
For example, a design engineer in her research phase might be targeted with a particular white paper in her research stage and a case study and data sheet in her consideration and comparison stage.
A message map offers a quick reference for the types of content you need to produce and how each piece of content will be used in your marketing efforts. The message map will help you design effective campaigns.
Your document should include a section on how you will measure the results of your strategy and if you are achieving your goals. Choose metrics that are meaningful to your efforts and strategy. There are many metrics available to you, depending on the content you are using: downloads, views, clicks, comments, shares, conversions, and more.
There are also more sophisticated measurements such as how content marketing contributes to revenue or customer growth. This article, “Five Tips for Measuring Marketing ROI,” can be helpful in creating your documented content marketing strategy.