Take stock before you put pen to paper.

The first step to developing and implementing a strong content strategy? Knowing to whom you’re speaking, and what they’re seeking.

Before putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), you should be able to answer these five key questions:

1. Who’s Your Target Audience?

The more personalized your content can be, the better. So even if you have a firm grasp on who your ideal consumer may be on a broad scale, focus on narrowing this vision down to smaller, more specific groups within your target demographic.

For instance, you might want to take a more aggressive selling approach when creating content for remarketing purposes, as these consumers have demonstrated an active interest in your products or services. Nordstrom, for one, sends sales-oriented emails to customers who have added products to their online shopping cart but have not yet followed through with a purchase.

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2. What are You Trying to Accomplish?

Think about the action you want your audience to take after consuming your content. Do you want them to share it with Facebook friends to extend your reach? Sign up for an email newsletter to increase your base of subscribers? Or is your primary focus on selling goods and services? The language you use and platform on which you publish and publicize the content should be dependent on the goals you wish to achieve as a brand.

3. What Topics Matter to Your Target Audience?

The most valuable content answers a question or solves a problem, so think about what topics matter most to your target audience. If you’re a healthcare brand, then you’ll want to write about common ailments and their cures; if you’re a fashion brand, like Elle, you’ll focus on forecasting trends and reporting on this season’s runway shows.

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4. What Does the Reader Have to Gain?

Once you’ve chosen a topic that closely aligns with the interests and needs of your target consumer, your job isn’t over. To truly make an impact, your content should aspire to do one of the following: inform, inspire, educate, entertain, or sell to readers. The form of the content may inform the purpose, but don’t be afraid to change your strategy up on occasion to keep your audience engaged and interested.

5. What Topics are Other Publications in Your Industry Discussing?

It’s important to stay current with the latest news and trends in your industry. Do some research to see what’s worked for similar brands. Rather than regurgitating the same old, tired content, find a unique angle or perspective to discuss the topic at hand in a new light. Take ClearlyDerm, for example, a dermatology center that took a fun approach to skincare content by highlighting acne-prone Hollywood stars.

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Longneck and Thunderfoot offer B2C content marketing services to help your business reach the audiences that matter with smart, useful content that delivers the right message at the right time. Learn more about B2C content marketing here.

Author Ami Foote

A graduate of the University of South Carolina, Ami is a staff writer at L&T. She has previously written for Ireland.com, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Britax Child Safety, and a variety of non-profits around the country. On a good day, you can find Ami obsessively consuming one or all of the following: folk music, NPR, black coffee, jeopardy, or Guinness.

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