Anyone can create content. But if you want your blog, newsletter, YouTube channel, podcast, magazine, or social media accounts to be effective, you need to start with a content strategy. And that’s not so easy.
Your strategy gives every piece of content a job, so you’ll always have a thoughtful answer when someone asks, “Why did we make this?” And you can be confident that your content will actually contribute to your bottom line.
To help you create your content strategy, we’ve put together five steps you’ll need to take.
1. Identify your audience
The first thing you need to know is who you’re talking to. Who are the people who currently buy and use your products or services? Who cares about the cause you’re addressing? There will likely be several “types” of people who benefit from what you do. The more specific you can get, the better.
For example, if you create a curriculum to teach kids about the Bible, you’ll likely want to create content for youth pastors, kidmin directors, children’s pastors, volunteers, and maybe even parents. But you might also have something more specific in mind, such as people in those roles from small- to medium-sized churches, where they likely don’t have the capacity to create their own curriculum.
Once you know who specifically you’ll be creating content for, you can start thinking about what they’d be most interested in reading, listening to, or watching.
2. Find out what they’re looking for
Every group of people you’re trying to reach could benefit from your organization. But they all have different needs, problems, interests, and goals. There’s always some overlap from group to group, but it’s important that you recognize how each person’s role affects the way they think about your product, service, cause, and niche.
Ideally, you should create audience personas for each of these types of people. Going through this exercise will help you explore their needs and wants, so you approach each piece of content with a specific person in mind.
You can find out what kinds of content these groups of people want through:
- Your customer service team
- Social media groups and pages they’re interested in
What questions are they asking your staff, or thought leaders in your space? What keywords are they using in search engines?
This may include topics that don’t appear directly relevant to your product, service, or cause. There may not always be a clear path to create a relevant call-to-action about your organization. That’s OK. And the next step is deciding what to actually write.
3. Decide which topics to focus on
Once you know who you want to reach and what they’re looking for, you can start identifying the overlaps between what they want and what you do. You should come up with a handful of overarching categories that cover a range of topics and concepts. If you sell tours of the biblical world to pastors and laity, for example, you might identify categories like:
Historical context of the Bible
- The Holy Land
- Spiritual growth
There’s overlap between these categories, and that’s OK. Each of them still contains plenty of unique topics your audiences would be interested in.
3. Commit to a communication channel
You don’t have to be on every social platform. And you don’t have to have a blog, video channel, and podcast. All of those things may be beneficial, but most organizations don’t have the capacity to pursue them all. And if your audience prefers to consume content in specific formats or on a specific platform, that’s where you should plan to be.
5. Establish a content calendar
Once you know what you want to write about, it’s time to make sure it actually happens. But what your timeline looks like will depend on what you’re trying to do.
If you’re trying to grow an audience for a newsletter, you probably want a consistent schedule. Whether it’s once a week, once a month, or something else, this helps your audience get used to a rhythm, so they expect to hear from you. In that case, you’ll want to use the categories you identified as a guideline to create a steady stream of ideas.
But you may not need to actually publish new content that often. Some organizations choose to create a “resource library” that just covers the 5–20 most important topics within each category. This ensures that your website is streamlined to turn visitors into customers, and can help people discover your brand through their research via Google.
Start with strategy
Lots of organizations create content. But few do it well. Starting a good strategy makes all the difference.