How To Write a 1-Page Content Marketing Strategy: 6

Without a written strategy, your brand’s content marketing won’t reach its potential. Think about it.

Without a written strategy:

  • Your content marketing is less likely to align with organizational goals.
  • You have a hard time securing leadership and budget support.
  • You risk internal, external, and adjacent content teams going in multiple directions.
  • You spend more time onboarding and re-educating your team.

Without a written strategy, you are like most content marketers, just not the most successful ones.

Without a documented strategy, you’re like most #content marketers. Just not the successful ones, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

A documented strategy correlates with success

The Content Marketing Institute asks about documented content marketing strategies in its annual research. Most recently, only 40% of B2B marketers and 39% of B2C marketers said they have one. (And no, the people who say they have a strategy but don’t write it down don’t count. An unwritten “strategy” is whatever anyone says it is.)

But the CMI research shows having a documented content marketing strategy differentiates the top performers from average or poor performers. Consider this stat for overall marketing from CoSchedule’s Trend Report: Marketing Strategies 2022: Marketers with a documented strategy are 414% more likely to report success than those who don’t.

So why don’t more content leaders write down their strategies?

Writing a strategy takes time. And many wonder whether the time invested will pay off. Will anyone on the team read the whole thing or remember what’s in it?

That’s why I’m a big advocate of creating a one-page content marketing strategy. The abbreviated format means you can create it quickly and explain it concisely. People you share it with will be more likely to read and remember it. (Heck, they could pin it to their bulletin board or make it their screensaver.)

Let’s walk through six steps to create your one-page content marketing strategy. But first, review your business’ operational objectives and goals. Your content marketing program won’t be successful if it doesn’t align with what your organization wants to achieve.

Your #ContentMarketing program won’t be successful if it doesn’t align with what your organization wants to achieve, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

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Step 1: Set the content marketing objective

Knowing what your business executives want to achieve, consider how content marketing will help. At this point, you’re looking for a general content marketing objective, not specific tactics or topics.

Example

For this exercise, I’ll use the faux Chickadee Credit Union as the organization creating a one-page content marketing strategy. The credit union is a member-based organization that offers services similar to banks in its community.

Here’s what their pre-step and step one look like:

  • Business objective: To increase the belief that Chickadee Credit Union is a good source for loans (home, personal, and auto)
  • Business goal: To increase all types of loan applications by 10% (year over year) from CCU members
  • Content marketing objective: To become a go-to content resource for credit union members interested in personal finance topics

The business objective is specific (raise awareness and trust in Chickadee as a lender), and the goal is measurable (increase loan applications by 10%). With that understanding, the content marketing team identified an objective that could ultimately help CCU achieve that goal (becoming a go-to resource on personal finance.)

Now, the work begins to define the path to achieving that content marketing objective.

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Step 2: Define the audience

It’s tempting to detail a broad audience – after all, you may think, the more people who consume your content, the more people to help you achieve the business goals.

Resist that temptation because it’s ineffective. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to create content that works well for as many audience segments as possible. Instead, pick one primary audience and, possibly, a secondary audience. To do this, research your potential audiences. Look at the relevant data – demographics, sociographics, interests, needs, and pain points. Detail how and where people in that group currently get information related to your general topic (as mentioned in your content marketing objective.)

Then, ask who would be most interested in your company’s content topic. If you need to narrow it further, ask who would be most interested in the topic and more likely to take the desired action to achieve the business’ operational goal.

Example

Chickadee Credit Union considered several audiences interested in personal finance content. But when the content marketing team asked which of those audiences would be more likely to apply for a loan in the next five years, they narrowed it down to one – parents with at least one young child.

CCU included these attributes of their target audience (parents with at least one young child) in their strategy:

  • Member of Chickadee Credit Union
  • Overseer of their family’s budget
  • Expect their living and transportation needs to evolve in the next five years
  • Challenged by balancing the family’s space and transportation requirements as the family grows
  • Crunched for time in all aspects of their life

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Step 3: Identify content categories and topics

Knowing and describing your audience opens the window to content. What would this group of people want to read, watch, or listen to that’s related to your content marketing objective?

Brainstorm a list of content ideas – big ideas, specific story angles, or both. As you review the list, put a star next to the ones that would benefit your target audience the most.

Identify several broad themes. List sample story topics that would fall under those categories to help people better understand related ideas and envision new possibilities.

Example

Chickadee Credit Union opted for three categories – home life, car travel, and free or low-cost fun. All those themes work well for parents of young children who are interested in personal finance and someday might apply for a home, auto, or personal loan. Then, they added specific story angles under each category:

  • Living at home
    • How to create a multipurpose living room (story topics)
    • The best furniture fabric for families
    • Time-saving cleaning tips
  • Traveling by car
    • Emergency tools every car should have
    • Tailgate picnics when your vehicle doesn’t have a tailgate
    • Apps to find the best gas prices
  • Free or low-cost fun
    • Be a tourist in your own town
    • Help your children make their own board games

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Step 4: Detail content types and formats

Deciding on content formats and types is closely tied to step five (distribution channels). Ask two questions:

  1. How would the target audience most want to consume the content?
  2. Which of those formats fit within available resources and capabilities?

Be realistic. For example, your audience might enjoy videos. But if no one on your team has video skills and you have no budget to hire or outsource, don’t choose video as one of your formats.

Example

Chickadee Credit Union found that parents value multiple formats. It identified five for its content marketing strategy, including a mix of digital content types and print:

  • Blog articles
  • E-newsletters
  • Social media posts
  • Print newsletter
  • Video
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Step 5: List distribution channels and frequency

Often, your chosen format will lean toward a general delivery channel. But be as specific as possible in detailing where your content distribution priorities lie.

For example, you might distribute an article on your company’s blog or a third-party website. You might distribute a social media post through Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.

At this point, you also need to look at the available resources to create, publish, and promote the content. What is the minimum amount of each content type this group can produce?

TIP: Don’t be overly ambitious. Pick a frequency you can realistically meet. You can always increase it later.

Example

Chickadee Credit Union’s strategy specifies frequency and distribution channels for their content formats:

  • Blog articles: 3 times weekly; CCU website
  • E-newsletter: 1 time a month; CCU subscriber database
  • Tweets: 1 time a day; CCU handle
  • Facebook: three times weekly; CCU Facebook page
  • Newsletter: two times a year; CCU & partner physical locations
  • Video: two times a year; CCU YouTube channel

With the format, platform, and frequency determined, CCU detailed the categories (from step three) for each format and planned to:

  • Rotate the three categories for each blog post as well as social media posts
  • Include all three categories in the e-newsletter and print newsletter
  • Make the travel-by-car category the theme for videos
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Step 6: Connect to the business purpose

Now, you’re ready to go back to the beginning. It’s time to add the goals to your content marketing objective (step one).

Consider:

  1. What do you want your audience to do after consuming a piece of content?
  2. How will you measure success?
  3. What are the specific goals (remember to tie them to the business’ operational goals)?
  4. How long will you have to achieve them?

Example

If you recall, CCU wanted to increase loan applications by 10% year over year. To help contribute to that goal, the content marketing team wanted to become the go-to resource for personal finance. Here are their measurable content marketing goals:

  • To increase awareness of CCU as the go-to resource for family-focused personal finance topics
    • Increase visits to blog pages on site by 10% each month
  • To grow the database of members who want content from CCU
    • Increase member e-newsletter sign-up number by 20% each quarter
  • To convert member subscribers into loan applicants
    • Grow the number of member subscribers who also apply for a loan (personal, home, or auto) by 5% over a year

Notice how their measurable content marketing goals ultimately lead to the business operational goal.

Now, CCU has its one-page content marketing strategy:

AUDIENCE (clearly defined)

CCU members who are parents/guardians of at least one young child; oversee their family’s budgets; likely to see living and transportation needs evolve in the next five years; are challenged by balancing a growing family’s space and transportation requirements; crunched for time

CATEGORIES/TOPICS (content angles relevant and valuable to the audience)

  • Living at home • Traveling by car • Free or low-cost fun opportunities

FORMATSDISTRIBUTION CHANNELS – FREQUENCY (deliver in relevant channels consistently)

  • Blog – CCU website – 3x a week
  • E-newsletter – Database – 1x a month
  • Print newsletter – CCU physical location – 2x a year
  • Video – YouTube – 2x a year
  • Social Posts – Twitter 1x a day; Facebook 2x a week

CALLS to ACTIONS w/ MEASURABLE GOALS (customer action)

  • To increase awareness of CCU as the go-to resource for family-focused personal finance topics
    • Increase visits to blog pages on site by 10% each month
  • To grow the database of members who want content from CCU
    • Increase member e-newsletter sign-up number by 20% each quarter
  • To convert member subscribers into loan applicants
    • Grow the number of member subscribers who also apply for a loan (personal, home, or auto) by 5% over a year

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One more thing: Plan to revisit the content marketing strategy

Once you complete step six, your content marketing strategy is documented and ready to use. But I recommend an honorary seventh step. Too often, content marketers get so focused on execution that they forget to review their documented strategy regularly to make sure the goals and decisions remain valid.

Revisit the strategy when:

  • Goal timeframes have concluded
  • Triggers or events happen within your organization (i.e., a reduction in content marketing resources, the addition of new technology or platform)
  • Triggers or events happen outside your organization (i.e., a pandemic, a shift in consumer behavior)
  • Operational strategic planning is changed or updated (i.e., a new business goal, a new vision plan)

Don’t forget to review your #ContentMarketing strategy regularly to make sure goals and decisions remain valid, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

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Start writing

OK, now you know documenting a content marketing strategy isn’t overly difficult. You probably have a lot of the answers already. So set aside time to pull it all together in one document, then share it with all the stakeholders involved.

And next year, you’ll find yourself on the right side of the survey. You’ll have a documented content marketing strategy that helps you achieve your content and organizational goals.

Give it a try and let me know how it works for you.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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