Does your content marketing strategy need work? Join the club — and follow these five steps (from the beginning) for better results.

  1. Know What You’re Selling

You can’t possibly create top-shelf content until you know what you’re selling — and why.

The roots of truly effective content marketing run deep. Long before you create a single piece of customer-facing content, you need to ask yourself and your team some basic questions that will define your strategy going forward. Such as:

  • Why are we in business? Lays the groundwork for your mission / value statement.
  • What needs do our products or services fill? What are their use cases? Wireframes your key marketing messages.
  • Who are our competitors? How are they positioning themselves? What can we learn from them? A little inspiration never hurt.
  • How do people hear about us? What’s the most effective way to reach them? Marketing strategies live and die by ROI.
  1. Understand (And Segment) Your Audience

Modern content marketing is all about effective targeting. Effective targeting is all about knowledge — detailed knowledge about who your customers are, where they live and work, what motivates them, and why they want what you’re selling.

Your company’s universe of potential buyers is broad, not inscrutable. It’s just begging to be segmented into a manageable number of ideal buyer groups — generalized profiles that combine demographic data, occupation, social status, motivation, use cases, past buying history, and more.

According to digital marketing entrepreneurs, sophisticated segmentation means looking beyond broad demographic categories to create detailed profiles of your ideal buyers. There’s no such thing as knowing too much about your prospects and customers.

  1. Leverage Influencer Relationships

Many hands make light work — especially when those hands have big networks and bigger megaphones.

Early on, cultivate relationships with influential people in your organization’s industry or sphere of influence. Use their expansive social media reach and built-in credibility to broadcast your content farther than your network will allow. Influential people are usually willing to share excellent content that makes them look good by association.

  1. Make Content Accessible Across Your Organization

Your organization’s right hand needs to know what the left is doing.

“Customer-facing teams need to have cross-functional workflows so that any employee can work with any piece of content in real time,” says Carlos Dominguez, president and COO of New York-based Sprinklr, via Contently.

Translation: content marketing is a team effort that extends well beyond those directly responsible for producing content — to the sales team, business development shop, account management department, all the way up to the C-suite. Responsive, unified messaging is a recipe for content marketing success.

  1. Keep Your Audience Guessing

Variety is the spice of life — and content marketing. Publishing one blog post per week and supporting with a couple social posts does not a complete content marketing strategy make. Use a wider mix of media: videos, memes, blog posts, longform guides, white papers, case studies, podcasts, and anything else that aligns with your brand and target audiences. Deliver excellent, useful content and your prospects won’t mind the guessing game.