How to Create a Content Strategy in Minutes not Months
“We need to develop a content strategy for 2016” says your marketing leader. Queue groans and internal eye rolls: who wants to create a content strategy? The word “strategy” likely causes you to feign illness and see if you can find an unwitting co-worker to help you with this new project.
It’s a word that sums up a vision of an endless PowerPoint deck filled with disconnected ideas and no clear path for what actually needs to get done. And the worst part: after months of brainstorming sessions, sketches for the future, and trying to connect the content dots, you often feel like you’re no closer to achieving something meaningful with your content.
Or at least, this is what I’ve been told 😉
Content strategies serve one true purpose: to be informed, realistic and actionable. The kind of help and the kind of action you need depends on where you are at with your current content approach. But, I’m here to tell you that you can create a content strategy in minutes — not weeks—and it only requires a single sheet of paper with the answers to 6 simple questions.
In fact, let’s say we do one now. Are you ready?
Here’s What You’ll Need
- 20 minutes
- A pen
Looking for a tool you can print out and use as you walk through each step? Download our content strategy template and checklist.
How to Create a Content Strategy in Minutes
I’m so excited you’ve decided to come on this 20 minute journey with me to create your first content strategy. There’s no turning back now – so let’s go.
Question 1: Why Are You Creating Content?
To begin let’s answer a foundational question: why are you creating content?
You’d be surprised how often this question is overlooked. Knowing the answer to this question will help you focus the rest of your efforts — for content to be effective, it honestly should be a means to an end. Content for the sake of content, with no overarching objective attached, is a total waste of time and money.
Let’s back up to our original question and the spark of this entire 20 minute endeavor: someone on your team asked you to come up with a content strategy. Why? What prompted the need?
Common examples include:
- Increase brand or product awareness
- Increase leads into sales funnel
- Drive additional revenue
Chances are your content efforts fall into one or more of these goals. Snag the ones that resonate the most, and write them down now. (Quickly, because because you only have 13 more minutes to get to your finished documented content strategy!)
Question 2: What do you want the content to do?
This one isn’t too hard if you know the answer to question one. Understanding what you want your content to actually do for the reader is important because it helps narrow down the how, when, and where when it comes to content creation.
Common examples include:
- Showcase your brand’s unique point-of-view within the market or industry
- Attract new visitors to your website and increase lead generation
- Provide potential customers with their pre-sales research
- Support your site’s larger SEO efforts and goals
- Help recover lost leads or conversions, like abandoned shopping carts or demo requests
- Remarket to existing customers
Thanks to Heidi Cohen for providing many of the examples used from her great content marketing list!
Question 3: Who is the intended audience of your content?
If you have an extra minute or two to spare, spend it on your audience. Your target audience drives the entire content lifecycle and determines how effective your content actually is at achieving its intended goals. After all, your audience is literally the group of people who your entire content revolves around.
Never create content for a generic audience unless you have an affinity for lighting money on fire. Content that is customized for a group of very specific group of people will help you focus your content efforts and continually refine your approach as your audience sends you engagement feedback.
Here are some questions to help you understand your audience a little better:
- What is your audience’s age, gender, and digital comfort level?
- What is the problem your audience wants to solve with your brand or product?
- What is the primary reason your audience doesn’t convert?
Wow, we now 50% of the way complete!Never create content for a generic audience unless you have an affinity for lighting money on fire. Click To Tweet
Question 4: What are the content formats you can you realistically create?
Right now, list the types of content you can create with minimal obstacles. Most businesses can, at a minimum, produce blog content.
Or maybe you have resources to hire an agency to do some of the heavy lifting for you with graphics and video.
The main takeaway here is to focus on the content you could get live in no more than 30 days if needed. And always prioritize formats that you can create frequently, consistently, and that meet high quality standards.
Keep in mind your target audience as well, and ask what content formats match their digital comfort level?
Common content types include:
- Blog articles
- Downloadable PDFs (free guides, eBooks, case studies)
Question 5: Where will your content live, who will publish it, and how often will you have new content go live?
Okay so this is technically three questions but they are all related. And you’ve only got 30 seconds to answer it.
The goal of this question is to get an idea of content distribution, content frequency, and content ownership within your team.
Here are some content distribution options to choose from:
- Website pages
Only circle the ones that actually apply. For businesses just starting out, it’s most likely going to be your company blog and Facebook page.
Question 6: How will you measure the success of your content?
You might feel like this question could take hours or days to complete and you’d be right, it can.
What is one way you can measure the success of your content?
We want to match up our goals to our measurement so that we can analyze our performance within the right context. Leads are great, but if your goal was to help support your site’s SEO efforts and you’re not seeing a bump in organic traffic, something may be off.
When setting your measurement goal, be sure to set a timeline. This could be ninety days or one year, depending on your answer to question.When setting your #contentmarketing measurement goal, be sure to set intervals for pulling data. Click To Tweet
Here are some common content measurement goals for content:
- Generate 5 leads from downloadable content assets within the first 90 days
- Increase organic traffic by 10% for the year
- Increase return visitors by 5% within 6 months
Congratulations! You Just Completed a Content Strategy
Woo! That’s it. Your answers to these six questions just produced a one-page content strategy! How does it feel? If I were you, I’d bask in this moment because these 20 minutes produced a pretty great document.
The reason I pushed you to do this exercise in 20 minutes is because the hardest part is just getting started. Done is always better than perfect. And no matter how fantastic or beautiful (or long) a content strategy is, execution is always the most important part. That’s why I focused on the elements that will help you create an easily digestible content strategy framework.
So go on, show off your content strategy. You’ve earned it.No matter how fantastic or beautiful (or long) a #content strategy is, execution is always the most important part. Click To Tweet
About Kat Robinson
Kat brings several years of content strategy experience having worked with a diverse group of digital publishers and various brands to the Vertical Measures team. She is a passionate advocate of using data analysis to test and optimize content practices in order to deliver results-driven, engaging content.