3 Strategic Questions To Ask For Content Marketing Win

What percentage of content marketers document their strategy in writing? The answer might shock you. It’s not 75% or even 50%. No, research by Content Marketing Institute finds only 36% of content marketers document a strategy. 

And can you guess what those 36% have in common? They report the most success. They win at content marketing because they have a strategy, or game plan, to win.

To jump start your game plan, consider three strategic questions that I adapted from the excellent book "Playing to Win."

The first is “What is our winning aspiration?”

This is your goal and vision for your content marketing program.

For example, when Marriott announced its robust content marketing program and studio, they declared a clear vision: to be the Red Bull of the hotel industry, as quoted in a Variety article. 

In other words, Marriott seeks to be a powerhouse of travel lifestyle content the way Red Bull is a powerhouse of alternative sports content. Your goal and vision might be different, but the point is to define it clearly.

The second question is “Where will we play?

This is choosing your playing field, specifically where you plan to compete on content. 

For instance, consider who your ideal audience is, where they are geographically, what channels they use, and what topics interest them. If you already know what your competitors are doing, you can factor that in, too. Think twice about choosing the same exact playing field as your competitors, especially if they are already successful.

Hilton, for example, is not trying to offer content about travel lifestyle and culture the way Marriott is. Marriott already dominates that playing field. Instead, Hilton goes after delivering personalized, useful content as customers travel with them.

If you’re not sure what your competitors are doing with content marketing, you can do a competitive analysis to shed light.

And the last strategic question is “How will we win?

That means considering what gives you the right to win on content. That might be a unique value proposition your content gives customers, a competitive advantage such as specialized expertise, or a distinctive content approach.

For example, the Tennessee Valley Authority (disclosure: a client), a federally owned corporation founded during the Great Depression to provide utilities and navigation, had rich historical, ecological, and technical knowledge of the region, plus a huge archive of visual content like photos, maps, diagrams, and video to make its content marketing program distinct. 

Your right to win might be different, but finding it is crucial to your content marketing strategy.

The legendary Serena Williams would never start a tennis tournament without a game plan. In the same way, don’t start content marketing without your strategy. Write down your winning aspiration, where you will play, and how you will win. 

1 comment about "3 Strategic Questions To Ask For Content Marketing Win".
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  1. Ford Kanzler from Marketing/PR Savvy, May 15, 2019 at 2:12 p.m.

    Agree completely that strategy is too often missing in an overall marketing effort as well as from business/brand communications of all types. I'd offer the most important questions which marketers must answer are:
    - "What’s different? (What single attribute, important to customers, makes you different from competitors?)
    - "What single, unique benefit does a customer derive from your products or services?
    Suggest exchanging "winning asperation" for "competitive differentiation."  Your brand may "aspire" to a specific perception in the mind of the market. Is that brand perception achievable? Does a competing brand already own that market position? Discovering a brand's competitive difference is the essence of strategic planning. Applying your customer-valued difference is one of the keys to marketing success. Highly suggest Jack Trout's "Differentiate Or Die" as the best info on why and how for developing a competitively-differentiate strategy. The good news is once a clear strategy is established, the organization will start investing far more effectively in all forms of marketing than previously random tactical efforts.
    To achieve a desired market position in peoples' minds (the Objective), you'll need to clearly understand how your brand is currently perceived (your statement of position). That info may be daunting given how you want to be known. Market perceptions (people's minds) don't change over night. If your marketing vp or CEO is in a rush, they'd best prepare for a lengthy effort and significant investment.
    As is mentioned above, also understand how key competitors are perceived and/or what they claim as their competitive differentiation. You may be surprised learning competitors are utterly un-strategic and all over the map with their claims. Then you immediately has an advantage.
    Additionally, your entire organization will need to be on board with the strategy. Don't keep the new strategy a secret. Sell it internally and promote it widely and often. Police it when you see people going off-strategy. Walking the talk as well as producing strategically-focused content are both essential to marketing success.

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