content strategy

6 Steps to Build a Content Strategy for Your Startup

Latest posts by Kelsey McKeon (see all)

Content serves many business purposes. High-quality, useful content can help potential customers find a solution to their problem and can increase brand awareness. A content strategy allows startups to create and share pieces of content with the intent of achieving a specific business goal.

As an entrepreneur, your goal should be to produce and publish content with a specific strategy in mind in order to reach your target audience with that content. Now is a great time to reconfigure your company’s content strategy in order to help your business reach its goals.

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To do so, review the following six essential steps to create a content strategy:

  1. Define your content goals
  2. Identify your audience
  3. Research your competition on search
  4. Choose your formats
  5. Evaluate resources
  6. Create a content calendar

Define your content goals

Before you begin producing anything, it’s important to identify your content marketing goals. Reference your broader business objectives to inform your content strategy. With this insight, you can produce content that aligns with your business goals and define the metrics you’ll use to measure success.

Some popular content marketing goals include:

  • Earning backlinks to your company website
  • Establishing yourself as a thought leader within your space
  • Providing solutions to customers’ problems

Use your company’s value proposition to inform your content strategy goals.

For example, how will your content add to the value you already provide to your customers? A dog grooming company, for example, could use a content strategy to help potential customers learn more about pet care, providing solutions to common problems their customers experience.

Related: How to Magnetize Your Messaging with a Unique Brand Voice

Identify an audience for your content

Knowing and understanding your audience is a critical component of any business strategy. When you understand your target audience and their pain points, you will be able to form a successful content strategy to meet their needs. The aforementioned dog groomer, for example, is customer-facing and will have an audience of more traditional consumers who are interested in products for and information related to their pets.

Once you’ve identified your audience, brainstorm a few pain points that target audience might have. For insight into what those issues may be, conduct keyword research.

As a consumer, what’s the first thing you do when you need a problem solved? You likely go straight to a search engine. Consumers use search engines to find solutions, and understanding the terms that they search for associated with your company, product or service can help you identify the issues they are experiencing.

Understand your competitive landscape on search engines

No matter your content goals, understanding the search engine landscape of your chosen topics will increase your content’s visibility and help you reach your target audience.

Start by identifying topics you plan to cover in your content. Conduct a few searches for those topics in order to find what types of content appear on the search engine results page (SERP). Are there any long-form articles, infographics, video or audio content?

If you notice a theme with the type of content on a search engine results page, it’s not an accident – it likely indicates that it’s the sort of content people who search that term engage with. Use this to inform your own content strategy.

A quick search for “dog groomer,” for example, yields mostly local results for specific grooming companies.

dog groomers

This shows that most people searching for “dog groomers” are usually ready to decide on a local service provider for their pet. If your goal is to get local customers to come to your dog grooming shop, it may make sense to target your content around the generic topic, “dog groomers.” If your goal is instead to raise brand awareness about a new grooming product, you may want to create content around a different key term, such as “best dog collars” or “designer dog clothes.”

Choose content formats and channels

Content is no longer limited to the written word. Today, popular types of content include video, infographics, podcasts and more.

Podcasts are an accessible form of content that users can consume at any point throughout the day, unlike long-form blog posts or infographics. You can also transcribe podcasts to publish on your website as a blog post that Google can then index for search engine results.

Understanding your audience can also help you narrow the scope of your content strategy. If your audience is younger, you might consider producing short-form video or image-based content to be shared on TikTok or Instagram. According to BusinessofApps, the TikTok app was downloaded 738 million times in 2019, excluding third-party Android downloads in China.

Entrepreneurs and marketers should consider this growing user base when choosing which social media channels to share their content on, especially if their audiences skew younger.

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Evaluate your content resources

Steps one through four have given your content strategy a framework.

Now, it’s time to evaluate your in-house resources for content creation. Content marketing takes time and effort, and usually requires a dedicated content team to produce the volume of content necessary for success.

Do you have a marketing team? If so, are they equipped to change priorities in order to execute your new content strategy? Do you need a staff of content writers? Keep in mind that many startups employ freelance creators to help establish a content bank and populate pages, rather than full-time writers.

Create a content calendar

Once you’ve staffed your content team, you can begin to create a content calendar for your new strategy.

Create your content calendar before you start drafting or publishing any content on your website. This will ensure that your strategy is mapped out ahead of time. Start by creating content in batches so you have plenty of content to share once you roll out your new strategy.

Content strategies drive brand awareness

An effective content strategy can help your business expand its reach, while establishing you, the company founder, as a thought leader within your given industry.

To get started on a content strategy, you must first set goals and evaluate your audiences. Then, evaluate the search engine landscape and use that information to decide on the best types of content and platforms for your business.

Originally published June 26, 2020.

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