MSPs: Here’s how to develop an effective content strategy

Posted by Kevin Cain on Apr 15, 2014 11:00:00 AM

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With your team in place, the next step to building a content marketing program is to start framing out a strategy. chalkboard

That strategy should be built upon four primary pillars, including your understanding of your target audience, the actual content that you are going to create, the actions that you want your audience to take as a result of consuming your content, and the methods or tactics that you will use to deliver it.

Let’s take a closer look at each one of these areas by answering the following questions:

How well do you know your buyers?

To create content that resonates with your buyers and that is ultimately able to shepherd them down the path to purchase, it’s critical that you understand who those buyers are. Start out by gathering as much information about them as possible, including such details as:
  • What their needs and pain points are
  • What their role in the buying process is
  • Who influences their buying decisions
  • What concerns they have that might prevent them from making a purchase
Next, compile all of the information you gather into a buyer persona — a short but useful description of that buyer — to help solidify your understanding.

As part of your research, you also need to study your buyer’s journey, i.e., the steps that he or she will take leading up to making a purchase. In doing so, figure out where along that journey your buyer is mostly likely to get hung up or stuck and why.

Your job as a content marketer is to attack those sticking points by creating the content necessary to ease whatever concerns your buyers have.

What content are you going to create?

The next aspect of your strategy that you need to consider is the actual content. Specifically, you’ll want to decide what content format is most appropriate for what you’re trying to achieve as well as which topics and messaging each piece of content should include.

To help you make the decision and ensure that you are creating content that will resonate with your buyers, consider what you already know about them, their needs, and their preferences.

Likewise, you will want to ensure that the type of content you select is appropriate for the stage of the buyer journey that you are targeting. No matter how good your white papers may be, for example, they probably aren’t the right form of content for drawing new buyers with limited attention spans into your sales funnel.

What do you want your buyers to do?

Once you have a good understanding of your buyers and their buyer journey, as well as of what content you are going to create, it’s time to think about what actions you want them to take as a result of consuming that content.

Each of those actions is a conversion, and while your ultimate conversion goal is going to be to get them to make a purchase, your buyers will likely need to complete a series of much smaller conversions over time that ultimately lead up to that purchase.

Make sure that you are setting a conversion goal for each piece of content that you create, and that each conversion goal is appropriate the corresponding stage of the buyer journey for which it is intended.

How will you deliver your content?

The last component of your strategy that you need to consider is how you will get your content to your buyers. There are lots of different ways to make contact with them.

For example, you could contact your audience directly through e-mail, text messages, or phone calls. Or your can get your audience to contact you after finding you in their search results or in an online forum.

Your task is to figure out which methods are most effective given what you know about your buyers and the stage of the buyer journey that they are in. In the process, you will want to keep a few basic guidelines in mind:
  • Cheaper forms of contact are generally better than more expensive ones
  • You will need to use multiple forms of contact to get your content out
  • The easier the form of contact is to execute the better
  • Make sure that form of contact is good enough to drive the specific conversion that you are after

Remember, how you market your content is just as, if not more, important than the content itself, so you will want to ensure that you get this step right.

Once you have a solid grasp of these four components, organize the information that you gather about each into a single matrix or framework and examine how they work together. If they are all carefully thought through and aligned with each other, you will be well on your way to developing a successful content strategy.

Read Kevin Cain's complete series on content marketing for MSPs:

Kevin Cain is a content and communications strategist based in Sydney, Australia, and has more than a decade or experience working in the financial services and consulting industries and helping expansion-stage software companies develop their content strategies. To learn more, follow him on Twitter @kevinrcain or check out his blog on language, content, communication and strategy.

Topics: Content Marketing