Brands should lay the foundation for the content program they want in the future with the resources they have on hand now.

To quote the late author Flannery O’Connor, “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”

Translation for content marketers: if you’re struggling to explain yourself or make the best case for your brand, get your thoughts down on paper. Whether you’re writing your first blog post or looking to completely revamp your digital presence, the important thing is that you begin to lay the pillars of your content program today.

For businesses looking to develop an online voice, simply knowing where to begin the process is a formidable challenge. After all, if you’re introducing your brand to the world for the first time, you want to make a good first impression. A lot goes into establishing a robust digital publishing operation, from choosing the proper format for your content to deciding on the optimal channels to promote it.

If you’re hopeful that your content and wider digital presence will reflect the aspirations that you and your team have for your brand, set yourself up for success with these five core content elements:

1. The Content Marketing Strategy

Your content marketing strategy needs to come before anything else. While you’re not going to put this front and center on your company’s blog, your strategy will guide you and your team as you piece together your content program.

Pinpointing your target audience is an important part of this process. If you’re looking to reach younger people, you’ll want to get your content onto social media platforms that teens and twenty-somethings use on a regular basis — think Instagram and Twitter. If you’re aiming to appeal to an older, more professional subset, promoting your content on LinkedIn and securing guest posts in industry-leading publications may be a better strategy.

Your marketing strategy will also guide what form your content takes. For brands that are operating primarily in the B2B space, white papers — as we’ll discuss below — can broadcast your insider knowledge to an audience that’s looking for a more in-depth read. Alternatively, if your operation is primarily B2C-oriented, your content will be more accessible and click-worthy to those who are casually browsing through their social media feeds.

2. The White Paper

Whether you’re a B2B heavyweight or a relatively young upstart, every content-savvy business needs a solid white paper in its arsenal. An impressive, well-researched piece of long-form content is your chance to show off your industry expertise and establish yourself as a thought leader.

To demonstrate that you’re in command of the facts and a serious authority in your industry, identify pain points in your field and give your solutions. Remember: your white paper is essentially an in-depth advertisement for your brand. By the time they’re done reading it, potential clients should have a firm handle on how you fit into your industry as well as what they’d gain from entering into a business partnership with your company.

3. The Blog Posts

To get your content program off the ground, it helps to have two to four fully fleshed out blog posts at the ready. Each of these should go into depth about specific subjects that your readers are interested in while simultaneously identifying a need that your business can satisfy. Depending on the topics and keywords you choose to anchor these posts, they can boost your overall SEO performance and increase your social media following. Most importantly, they will lay the groundwork for the types of topics you’ll explore in the future.

That being said, don’t agonize too much over these first posts: the actual topics you choose to explore are less important than the execution. So, pick an angle and get writing. An imperfect, but high-quality blog post is more effective than an unwritten one.

4. The Graphics

No matter what your brand does, pushing your content out on social media is a highly effective way to establish brand recognition. And what better way to leave a lasting impression than with some sweet custom graphics? By leveraging the power of visual storytelling in the form of compelling UX design or helpful infographics, you’ll have a better chance of attracting attention from your target audience.

In the end, your graphics don’t have to be complicated. In fact, less is often more: with an eye for style and artistic composition, you can craft a polished, professional online presence with tasteful visual content that doesn’t break the bank.

5. The Video Content

While not everyone can afford to produce video content right off the bat, this medium does get some of the highest engagement of all digital content. Notably, video content can take on different forms and functions depending on your business’s needs.

From helpful explainers to creative whiteboards, you can create videos that appeal to everyone from industry newcomers to seasoned pros looking for fresh solutions to old problems. Videos are also easily visible and promotable across multiple platforms, meaning that when you do have the resources on hand to produce them, they’ll go the extra mile in terms of getting your brand’s expertise out into the world.

Author Margot Gerould

An experienced writer, editor, and strategist, Margot serves a diverse set of B2B and not-for-profit clients as a Content Manager. Before L&T, she worked with a boutique brand strategy team that advised companies like eHarmony, Verizon Ventures, and Walmart Technology. Margot holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Yale University, where — other than conducting some original research about food security in Connecticut — her life was eerily close to the plot of Pitch Perfect.

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