Content marketing, simply put, is the creation and sharing of video, audio, imagery and copy, to targeted groups. Of course, if it were that simple then everyone – including bloggers, those active on social media, and amateur columnists – would experience straight forward and solid success. The “science,” involving content marketing strategy is something entirely different, far more detailed and exceptionally rewarding.

Firstly, the to say that content marketing is all about writing, is to oversimplify the concept as a whole. While it’s true that the written word forms a large component of the outputs required in order to create an effective content marketing campaign, the required mindset, and through that the inputs are something entirely different.

When creating good content, the idea forms the core of the strategy, and that idea should relate to the target persona.

Good content marketers live and breathe their target personas, understanding the hopes and fears, likes and loves of their ideal client. Content is created in line with those personas, using phrasing they would use, so as to make it highly searchable on Google through SEO, and the content itself is spoken in the prospect’s voice, or one they can easily relate to. Created or curated imagery is relatable to their daily lives, videos are tailored to the way they view and audible content such as podcasts, are created in an easily digestible fashion for them. Most importantly, at the centre of the content is the core problem they are experiencing, and then, an idea that can conceptually solve that problem.

Without this idea, that is spawned from an understanding of the core problem they are trying to solve, it’s highly unlikely that the right person will be reading, watching or listening to the content at all. This is where the false science of “hits,” “likes,” and “clicks,” becomes exposed, as a better question is asked by good content marketers –

“How many clicks came from our target personas?”

Without a next step, there’s no point.

The customer journey is crucial to a content marketing strategy. This is far less complicated than many would like to believe, and simply involves a marketer asking the question, “What should happen next?” Through this, combined with a detailed understanding of the target persona in question, the next step; which elegantly moves the prospect through a buying process is created. This again, involves the marketer having a detailed understanding of the buying process, and the stages the prospect will go through in order to make a purchase. It also means resisting the temptation to close prematurely, or forcing a buying decision on the prospect before adequate value has been created, forcing the prospect to say “yes,” or “no.

Content marketing strategy and methodology requires that the potential client go through a journey of discovery, and in doing so learn more about the company, their offering and the reasons for purchase. This creates, not only a more reliable purchase, in which the customer is likely to ask for a refund or become frustrated due to a lack of information, but also a relationship based; a reputational purchase that will excite the buyer, and reduce the need for additional explanations post-purchase.
To many business people this may seem to be extrapolating a straightforward process, but the opposite is often true; once an automated customer journey in line with a content management strategy is in place, a steady stream of prospects can be nurtured to purchase in a systematic fashion, in essence, creating a conveyor belt of sales, that seems to be individualised from the prospect’s point of view. Of course, this has been taken to the extreme by email marketers who choose to over-automate this concept, through a drawn out series of emails that add little value to anyone but the supplier.

At its core, content marketing strategy is the sharing of relevant and powerful ideas through various mediums. The crucial element is appreciating who your customers are, what they want, how to best engage them, and then creating a system to make that happen every single time.