Jewel Marketing
Taiwan Content Marketing

Content Strategy: How To Elevate Your Odds for Success

By Jason Patterson

Founder of Jewel Content Marketing Agency
You can have a great content strategist cook up a great content marketing strategy and plan for your business. But that plan is only half the battle. In fact, it's not even the battle at all. It's the model of the battle with little figurines that generals stare at.

Successful content strategy execution, over the course of a year, is a whole other thing altogether. It's a daily struggle where you repel resistance and dig your trench at the same time.

Because marketing departments, content operations, and the B2B business world are not really set up for strategic content success. But there are things you can do to elevate your odds.

Have a High-Level Marketing or Brand Owner

Content strategy tends to come from content people, who are often too low on the totem pole to have any real authority or autonomy to determine a content strategy's success or failure, so you'll need a high-level owner, or at least a high-level person with some content strategy KPIs as their KPIs. And there are two reasons why.

1. Because Your Content Marketing Strategy Must Be Fought For

When a complaint emerges where some stakeholder doesn't like the content strategy, or thinks it's a distraction from more practical concerns, the marketing or communications leader this issue gets raised to must have skin in the game. Otherwise temptation to compromise the strategy to keep the peace may prove too strong.

2. Because Your Strategy Shouldn't Be Abandoned Prematurely

Sometime in the third quarter, after the initial excitement over the content strategy has worn off, but before there's been enough time for it to show tangible benefits across the stakeholder landscape, the temptation may emerge to abandon the strategy and go back to what's familiar.

Especially if your content marketing strategy metrics are behind schedule, as will often be the case if this is your first time implementing a content strategy (and I'll circle back to why later).

But content strategy cannot be an easily abandoned marketing ornament, it must be real. And the best way to get the high-level buy-in you need to make it real is to integrate brand-level goals into your content strategy.

This can be done by defining your brand in terms of a few adjectives, and making those adjectives content pillars, and setting targets where a certain percentage of your content reflects each pillar. But, this is just one way.

Limit Ad Hoc Content Requests

Ad hoc requests are the nemesis of content marketing strategy. They stretch your content creators and writers too thin, distracting them from the creation of content that serves your strategic goals.

And since those making the ad hoc requests often aren't bound by the content strategy, the content they ask for may work against it, either by focusing too much on lower-funnel goals (sales, performance marketing, lead-gen, etc.) or by focusing too much on media relations (promoting the brand without serving a clear marketing goal).

You can't eliminate ad hoc requests entirely and you shouldn't either (you don't want sales, public relations, or other teams going rogue), but your company can limit them by allocating some additional content budget to these other teams so they can create more content on their own.

And if you're worried about the content they create being redundant or not being aligned with the content strategy, keep in mind that this should only be a problem in your first year with a content strategy in place. In subsequent years, both sides should be more attuned to the other's needs.

Enhance Your Own Team's Content Resources

Providing additional resources to the ad hoc requesters probably won't be enough. You may also need additional resources under your own flag to make a content strategy succeed. There are two reasons why.

1. Because Rome Won't Be Built In a Day

Proper content marketing and strategy execution tends to go against the way many businesses do things. And you might not be able to just stop doing the old things without creating internal friction, creating the need for additional resources to do new things.

2. Because You Can't Throw Money at Everyone Else's Problems

Allocating extra budget to ad hoc requesters won't work in every instance, because you can't just allocate budget for when executives need award applications filled or emails written to Gartner. That work is still likely to fall to some internal content writer who's drawn the short stick.

Get Your SEO Person Onboard With the Content Strategy

If you have a separate search engine optimization (SEO) specialist, this person will need to be kept in the loop during content strategy alignment. Because the content strategy will influence the success of their own efforts, and vice versa.

They'll want to provide input as to what keywords to focus on and what types of content get made, because you don't want them distracting your content team with ad hoc requests later.

Create a Marketing Asset Calendar

Perhaps the best way to start creating content strategy alignment is to create a master calendar. But don't call it a content calendar (as this name will discourage some key parties from reading it).

Instead, call it a brand or marketing asset calendar. Include expected delivery dates for all marketing, sales, and media assets (content or not) being created at the company, whether by sales, marketing, media relations, whoever.

This will create a sense of internal accountability regarding content created specifically to serve the strategy. And when everyone sees what everyone else is planning, they'll naturally try to avoid redundancy, get better about meeting deadlines, and cultivate a shared sense of buy-in.

Leave Spaces in the Content Calendar Around Events

In addition to the asset calendar, you'll also need a separate content calendar to be used by people responsible for executing the content marketing strategy.

Leave gaps in this calendar surrounding major company events so that you can handle the support duties that come up, without having it interfere with meeting your content strategy KPIs.

And you'll also need to study the content from annual events from the past couple of years to see how future event content might fit in or be repurposed under the content strategy.

Pace Yourself at the Beginning

As hinted at previously, if this is your first time implementing a content marketing strategy, I don't recommend setting goals where your H1 targets are 50% of your full-year targets, for three reasons.

1. Your Support May Be Slow To Get Going

If you're dependent on in-house people to produce your content, whether they're on your team or not, they may be slow to understand and get onboard with the strategy.

And you often can't force or pressure these people to go faster, which means you have to wait.

2. You're Not Perfect

Even an experienced content strategist might make some initial screwups during implementation. Or perhaps your actions will create setbacks that you don't see coming. And if I could tell you what such a force majeure would be, it wouldn't be force majeure.

I'm not perfect and neither are you. Get over it. Fix your mistakes and move on.

3. You Don't Want To Create Temptation

If you're behind schedule at the end of H1, temptation will set in to abandon the strategy, game or fudge the metrics, or use black-hat methods to close the KPI gap. None of these options lead anywhere good.

Consider Using an Outside Content Strategist

Many B2B businesses don't have an in-house content person qualified to craft a content marketing strategy.

Even if you do, you may want to consider having an outsider make the strategy anyway, especially if it's your company's first.

Because even if an internally-made content strategy has a high-level owner, whoever actually makes the strategy will be under a lot of pressure, from others, and perhaps even more, from within, to see it succeed. And such pressure may lead to tensions and conflicts, within teams and between silos, that you don't want.

So it's often better if the content marketing strategist is someone who doesn't have everyday dealings with the various stakeholders.

Guess who I recommend?

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