Imagine yourself as the quarterback in a pick-up football game. At the line of scrimmage, you call out, “Set! Hut!” Upon your command, the receivers run forward at full speed and the defenders latch on to them. Suddenly, there is a jumbled mess of bodies and confusion in the middle of the field. You look left and right, trying to find an open receiver to throw the ball to, but nobody is open. All you see is a cluster of people moving around in the grass. Out of desperation, you throw the ball to the nearest receiver, but the defender swats at the football. It lands on the field, incomplete.
The next play, before you go to the line of scrimmage, you gather your receivers around you and tell them what routes to run by drawing them in the dirt. This time, you call out “Set! Hut!,” the receivers run the routes that you planned, and suddenly there is open space on the field and room for the receivers to get open. Furthermore, you know where they will run to so you can throw them the ball at an exact spot. You find an open receiver and he catches the ball for a touchdown.
What was the difference between an incompletion and a touchdown? You had a plan!
What is true in a pick-up football game is also true for your B2B content marketing strategy: A documented plan will yield positive results. A documented content marketing strategy helps you plan, execute and measure your efforts.
According to the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs’ study, B2B Content Marketing: 2017 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends - North America, fewer B2B marketers have a documented content marketing strategy compared with last year (32 percent vs. 35 percent), even though the research consistently shows that those who document their strategy are more effective in nearly all areas of content marketing.
Here are four reasons to have a documented content marketing strategy:
1. To get your editorial mission statement and fundamental elements of your strategy in writing
An editorial mission statement is the first step to developing a successful content marketing strategy. Marketing Insider Group has excellent advice on the purpose and importance of documenting one, as well as other elements of your strategy. This document defines:
- who you are as a company;
- whom you’re trying to reach;
- how you’re going to reach them; and
- what you want to accomplish when you do.
Once you’re able to institute these components of your strategy, you will have a clearer picture of how to build it. Getting your mission statement in writing makes sure that you stick to it.
One of the most fundamental aspects of a content marketing strategy is answering your “why.” Establishing your key objectives, and documenting them, will help you determine what your purpose of your strategy is and what you are hoping to accomplish.
Another fundamental aspect of content marketing is answering your “who.” Defining your target audience insures that your content reaches, connects, and is relevant to the right people. Once you establish the “why” and the “who,” your ability to create content topics and types will have more focus.
Planning a publishing schedule, determining your promotion plan and, establishing measurement metrics should also be included in your documented content marketing strategy. Having a documented schedule or calendar helps you organize your work load and keeps your team efficient, while your promotion plan determines how you are going to get your content out.
Finally, it’s important to know whether your strategy is working. Documenting measurement metrics will give you insight into what methods you are employing work and which ones do not.
2. To gain executive support for your content marketing strategy
With a documented content marketing strategy, your team posses something tangible that can demonstrate value. People are often better able to visualize or understand what something is when it is laid out in front of them. According to Content Marketing Institute, those higher up on the company ladder are no different. If an executive is able to comprehend what your team’s purpose and value for the company is, she is more likely to lend support to your cause. The extra encouragement could be beneficial to your team, should you make mistakes, while figuring it out along the way.
Furthermore, a well developed strategy can provide justification for larger budgets allocated to content marketing. A little extra funding can only improve your campaigns. Just remember that seeing is believing.
3. To share your strategy with other departments in your company
The world doesn't revolve around you and your content marketing team. Most likely, there are several departments that help keep your organization spinning. Your documented strategy keeps everyone, throughout all departments, on the same page. It serves as a communication tool that prevents departments from stepping on each other's toes and creating duplicate efforts. Most importantly, it ensures that everyone is working toward the same content goals.
Also, should your team need to rely on internal or external content experts, a documented strategy will serve as a blueprint that they can follow. This is particularly convenient for companies that outsource their content creation and distribution.
4. To update or modify your strategy
Life is but a series of changes, and as your organization grows and evolves, it’s important that your content marketing strategy does too. Having your strategy documented means that you will know what to adjust or modify when the time comes.
Even if your organization isn't experiencing monumental growth or change, it is still necessary to revisit your documented strategy periodically, if not annually, at the least. The reinforcement you practice by revisiting your strategy will help you stay on target for your goals, if nothing else.
It doesn't take a genius to understand that getting something in writing can often legitimize and materialize. What it does take a genius to do is to demonstrate the discipline and know-how to organize and document their intentions. Documenting your content marketing strategy should be the route you always turn to for success.