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Three Simple Steps for Building a Strong Content Strategy

By Clare Tyrrell-Morin.
Image Credit: tsalko/depositphotos.com

Here are 3 simple steps organizations should follow to build a strong content marketing strategy.

Since joining Eucalypt as a project manager in April 2016, I’ve spent two months in a state of extreme learning. I come from a background of journalism, marketing and events, but nonetheless, I’ve spent recent weeks on a steep learning curve—it’s been a delight and an eye-opening experience. We work with some innovative companies, and I’ve been noticing a trend emerge. I’ve started to appreciate how there are some universal truths when it comes to great content marketing.

Here are three golden rules to help you master content marketing.

1. Think about your audience.

This one seems so utterly obvious, but you’d be amazed at how many of us get this wrong. We tend to be so close to our brand, our company, our story, that we get in the way of ourselves. Ask yourself this question: who am I thinking of as I write this blog or commission this ebook? Who is the key stakeholder here? Is the intention here to tell my story?

So here’s the hard truth: no one cares about your product or company.

Readers are coming from the perspective of their own lives. Their time is precious. So when they interact with your whitepaper, your website, Facebook feed, or blog, they don’t want a sales pitch. They want something that will tangibly improve their lives. They want to learn or be entertained or inspired. In short, they want meaningful content, and this is the very crux of what content marketing or branded journalism is.

My friend Jayne Benjulian, Apple’s first chief speechwriter, recently told The Atlantic that a lot of the success of those early speeches lay in the way that the writers thought intricately about their audience: “Of course a speech is about your central concept, what it is you're saying, but it's also who's saying it and whom you're speaking to,” she says. They thought deeply about how someone would be listening, and shaped a speech that met those people where they were.

The best content marketers of today also have this outward focus. They take their brand and think beyond it, questioning how they can develop content that will contribute to the field. How can we, while telling our own story, connect to some universal truths? How can we give to our readership, share our knowledge? Through this approach, we engage, build trust, and create a platform.

2. Work with journalists.

To create genuinely compelling content for your audience, you need to work with seasoned writers—and journalists are among the best people to have on board. Some of the best storytellers of our era are now working in branded journalism. Find these journalists and invite them to your team. They will be able to create original stories that make people sit up and take notice.

When you bring a trained journalist to an editorial meeting with product marketers or brand managers, something magical happens. The journalist starts to ask unusual questions. She goes beyond the obvious, to probe deeper. She questions how what you’re saying may be resonating with what is being said in other verticals and industries. Trained journalists have within their minds a map of context; they have traditionally been the curators of our times because they can see the connections and spot the trends occurring. They’re always wondering, ‘how does this connect to a bigger story?’ They also have an uncanny ability to pull the interesting content out of their interviewees.

Bring these people to your content marketing meetings and let them interview your subject matter experts. Not only will their angle be fresh and engaging, their writing will also have an edge of polish and finesse that will delight the reader.

3. Plan ahead.

With your outward view set in place, your team at the ready, now you need to think strategy and frankly, you need to think big. You need to build a robust editorial calendar with quarters mapped out, and a year at a glance. This is what gets you out of firefighting mode, quickly rushing to write any copy you can to fill your blog schedule.

With planning, your content will now become curated. Themes will emerge. You’ll start to build a balanced mix—allotting enough time for rounds of edits, revisions and proofreading, caring once again for that precious reader by making the copy perfect for their eyes. By preparing content well in advance, you are also freeing up space to react to the news and create timely posts.

This calendar will become your greatest ally. Set up a spreadsheet, slot in your normal blog schedule as well as your milestones: your webinars, product launches, events. Paint the big picture—then each time you revisit this document, more ideas will appear. You can be smart about your content—create bigger assets such as ebooks or whitepapers, then breaking them down into different types of assets such as blogs, infographics, quizzes. Schedule these out, still thinking of your dear reader, to make sure they are spaced out enough to not be overbearing but beautifully orchestrated.

At the end of all this, you’ll have something that seems effortless. You’ll have content that seems so brilliantly clear and interesting, that readers will come and they will stay. They may even share. You’ll develop an audience that feels close to you, respects you, and appreciates your offerings. Now you have a platform.

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Clare Tyrrell-Morin

Clare Tyrrell-Morin brings 15 years of international marketing and editing experience to Eucalypt Media. Born in the UK, she spent a decade in the Asian media industry as arts writer for the South China Morning Post newspaper, founding art editor of Time Out Hong Kong, and marketing and events manager for Asia City Media. She moved to Maine in 2009 with her husband and has been enjoying the pristine air ever since.

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