An effective content-marketing campaign requires marketers to create original content in-house or to curate it from external sources. Content marketers should also distribute the content through the best mix of channels. However, the most common pitfall of a content-marketing strategy is to jump right away into content production and distribution without proper pre-production and post-distribution activities.

Step 1: Goal Setting

Before embarking on a content-marketing journey, marketers should define their goals clearly. Without proper objectives in place, marketers might become lost when they dive deep into content creation and distribution. Their goals should be aligned with their overall business objectives and translated into key metrics, against which the content marketing will be evaluated.

Content-marketing goals can be classified into two major categories. The first category is sales-related goals; these include lead generation, sales closing, cross-sell, up-sell, and sales referral. The second category is brand-related goals; these include brand awareness, brand association, and brand loyalty/advocacy.

Step 2: Audience Mapping

Once the objectives have been clearly defined, marketers should determine the audiences they want to focus on. Marketers cannot simply define the audiences in broad terms such as “our customers,” “youth in general,” or “decision-makers.” Defining a specific audience subset will help marketers create sharper and deeper content, which in turn contributes to the brand’s effective storytelling.

Step 3: Content Ideation and Planning

The next step is to find ideas about what content to create and to perform proper planning. A combination of relevant themes, suitable formats, and solid narratives ensures a successful content marketing campaign. In finding the right theme, marketers should consider two things. First, great content has clear relevance to customers’ lives. With all the information clutter, content must mean something to the audience to avoid being dismissed. It must relieve their anxieties and help them pursue their desires. Second, effective content has stories that reflect the brand’s characters and codes. This means that content must become the bridge that connects the brand’s stories to customers’ anxieties and desires.

The Content Marketing Institute reported that over 80 percent of B2C companies use illustrations and photos, e-newsletter, videos, and website articles whereas over 80 percent of B2C companies use case studies, blogs, e-newsletters, and in-person events.

Step 4: Content Creation

All the activities that we have discussed lead to the most important step, which is the content creation itself. Successful content marketers know that content creation is not a part-time job that can be done half-heartedly. Content creation requires enormous commitment in terms of time and budget. If the content is not high quality, original, and rich, a content-marketing campaign becomes a waste of time and sometimes backfires.

Step 5: Content Distribution

High-quality content is useless unless it reaches its intended audience. In a sea of content, it is easy for a particular content to get lost in transmission. Marketers need to ensure that their content can be discovered by audiences through proper content distribution. It is true that content marketing was born in the digital era. Contrary to popular belief, however, content marketing is not always performed through digital media channels. Some content formats and distribution channels are non-digital. Even digital natives use non-digital content marketing. There are three major categories of media channels that content marketers can use: owned, paid, and earned media. A brand’s owned media consist of the channel assets that the brand owns and which are fully under its control. A brand can distribute content to its owned media channels anytime it wants. Owned media include corporate publications, corporate events, websites, blogs, company-managed online communities, email newsletters, social media accounts, mobile phone notifications, and mobile applications that belong to the brand. These are highly targeted media whose reach is typically limited to the brand’s existing customers.

Step 6: Content Amplification

The key to a strong earned media distribution is a content amplification strategy. Not all audiences are created equal. When the content reaches key influencers in the intended audience group, that content is more likely to go viral. The first step marketers should do is to identify these influencers. They are respected figures in their communities who have a sizable group of engaged followers and audiences. They are often content creators themselves who have built their reputation over time with great viral content. They are considered experts in their communities.

Step 7: Content Marketing

Evaluation Evaluation of content marketing success is an important post-distribution step. It involves both the strategic and the tactical performance measurements. There are five categories of metrics that measure whether the content is visible (aware), relatable (appeal), searchable (ask), actionable (act), and shareable (advocate).

Step 8: Content Marketing Improvement

The key advantage of content marketing over traditional marketing is that it is highly accountable; we can track performance by content theme, content format, and distribution channel. Performance tracking is very useful for analyzing and identifying opportunities for improvement at a very granular level. This also means that content marketers can easily experiment with new content themes, formats, and distribution channels.

More and more marketers are making the shift from advertising to content marketing. A mindset shift is required. Instead of delivering value-proposition messages, marketers should be distributing content that is useful and valuable for the customers. In developing content marketing, marketers often focus on content production and content distribution. However, good content marketing also requires proper pre-production and post-distribution activities. Therefore, there are eight major steps of content marketing that marketers should follow in order to initiate customer conversations.

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Note: The Above Article is summarised from the book” Marketing 4.0: Moving from Traditional to Digital” by Philip Kotler, Hermawan Kartajaya. If you like the blog, I strongly recommend you to read the book for a more detailed explanation.