I am an introvert, and introverts tend to want order and structure in their lives. So it shouldn’t surprise you that I love helping companies develop content strategies.
A strategy is simply a plan of action for achieving a desired outcome. Strategies are important, because they help you focus your time and attention. In business, time is money. So the more time spent on executing your strategy, the more productive and profitable your business will be.
What is a content strategy?
Let’s back up and make sure everyone understands what we mean by strategy, because it can get confusing. As I said earlier, a strategy is simply a plan of action for achieving a desired outcome.
What’s the strategy for a football team? The desired outcome is to win the game. So the strategy would be to create a plan that would allow the team to win the game. Makes sense, right?
So the head coach, would work with his offensive, defensive and special teams coordinators to come up with a strategy for winning the game. This would be similar to how a CEO might work with his CMO, CIO, CTO and CFO to create a business strategy. There will be a strategy for the offense, another for the defense, and one for the special teams. But these three strategies will all support the larger strategy for the team; Winning the football game. Each different area of the team will play its part in supporting that larger strategy and achieving the desired outcome of winning the game.
A content strategy is a plan that uses the creation, development and management of content as a tactic to support your larger business goals. Notice I used the word ‘tactic’ to describe content. Many people get confused about the terms strategy and tactics. Tactics are what you use to execute a strategy.
Going back to the football example above, our strategy is to win the game. Running the ball could be a tactic we use to execute that strategy. We could also have a running strategy. Maybe our strategy is to run between the tackles to avoid the speed rush of the ends on defense. Likewise, content can be a tactic we use to execute a larger business strategy, but we can still have a content strategy that guides how we use that tactic.
Why have a content strategy?
Confession time, I stole a lot of Andy Crestodina’s ideas for structuring and writing this blog post from this article of his. I used his ideas while writing this post, and it greatly helped me clarify my thinking and bring order to the chaos of creating this post.
Why did it make writing this post easier? Because Andy’s advice helped me better organize the writing of the post. It made the process more efficient because it helped me focus on the desired outcome from the post.
This is why strategies are so important, they focus your actions on the desired outcome. When you have a strategy in place guiding your efforts, you accomplish more, in less time.
By creating a content strategy, you focus your content efforts only on the areas that are relevant to your desired outcomes. Think of all the places where you could create content. Your blog, Instagram, Twitter, Tik Tok, Facebook, Clubhouse. So many other options, it can be incredibly overwhelming!
A content strategy helps you narrow your content creation focus to only the tools and channels necessary to achieve your business’ desired outcomes. This saves your business time, money, and it saves your content team an awful lot of stress!
How do you create a B2C content strategy?
The first consideration when creating a content strategy for your B2C company is figuring out your desired outcomes. There are two considerations you want to address with your content strategy:
1 – Who are you trying to reach with your content?
2 – What action do you want them to take?
Before we dig into answering those two questions, let’s back up for a minute and talk about content, especially digital content. Digital content has strengths and weaknesses when it comes to helping a business reach its goals.
In general, digital content can do a wonderful job of helping your company build awareness. On the other hand, digital content doesn’t perform as well at closing sales.
Considering both of these factors, you want to focus on creating a content strategy for your B2C company that enters potential customers into the top of your sales funnel, and pushes them to the middle. Let’s think about this in terms of the Buyer’s Journey:
As mentioned earlier, digital content does a great job of building awareness. So your content strategy should focus on building awareness and making your target audience slightly aware of who your company is, and how your products and services can fit into their lives. If your B2C sells relatively inexpensive items, then once your content has moved a customer to the slightly aware stage, they can usually complete the purchase on their own. If your products are relatively inexpensive, that leads to little or no time spend on the research stage (Interested) and the customer can typically go close the sale themselves.
For more expensive items, let’s say a new car, your customer will want to do further research before completing the sale, in most cases. So for more expensive products, a good content strategy could target customers who are Unaware, move them to Slightly Aware, then when they become Interested, they could move to your website or interact directly with your company to get more detailed information on the products you sell.
Either way, a successful content strategy for most B2C companies focuses on building awareness with new customers, and helping them understand how the products and services your company sells can fit into their daily lives.
How is a B2C content strategy different?
Since most B2C content strategies focus on building awareness, that means creating content that focuses on the customer. In fact, when you are creating content to gain the awareness of customers, that content should focus almost entirely on the customer. Content that focuses on the customer is interesting and more relatable to the customer. This helps gain the customer’s attention, and that encourages them to learn more about your company.
It’s important to note that when you are creating content to build awareness, do NOT sell to the customer. Selling to a customer who is unaware of what your company sells, is a complete disconnect for the customer. So the content strategy is to gain the awareness of the customer, help them understand how your products fit into their lives, then once they are interested, you can create content that sells. Most companies want to create content that sells to the customer as soon as they enter the sales funnel, instead of selling to them at the bottom of the funnel, when the customer is interested in buying.
Another element of your content strategy that’s particularly important for a B2C company is to focus on storytelling. You want to create content that paints a story for the customer, where the customer can either see themselves as the main character, or they can see themselves playing a key role in the story’s development.
A classic example of creating compelling storytelling with content came from B2C brand Whole Foods in 2018. Whole Foods deleted all its Instagram posts, unfollowed everyone it was following, then posted a blank image. This immediately led to speculation over what had happened to Whole Foods’ Instagram feed. People believed that Whole Foods’ IG account had been hacked. Then, slowly, the brand began to follow a few celebrities who in some way had an attachment to the letter ‘B’ or the word Bee.
Finally, Whole Foods posted this update on Instagram:
The brand was using storytelling in its content to raise awareness of what would happen if there were no more honey bees. Whole Foods showed us some of the delicious foods we all love, that would no longer be available without pollination from honey bees. It was compelling storytelling that raised awareness of an issue that was relevant to the Whole Foods brand. In the process, it helped people understand how all parts of nature are related, and to also appreciate the quality of the foods that Whole Foods sells.
What if my content strategy isn’t working?
There will come a time in the life of every content strategy when you ask ‘What’s going on here?” For whatever reason, you aren’t seeing the results you want or need from your content strategy.
At this point, you need to back up and reassess. There’s some basic questions you should ask:
- Have we set realistic goals for our content strategy? For instance, expecting a 50% increase in sales attributable to your content strategy after 3 months may not be realistic.
- Have we adequately defined who our target audience is? Saying you are targeting adults age 18-55 is probably too broad. Creating a buyer persona for your content can help focus your efforts. More on this in a minute.
- Have we set the proper KPIs for our content strategy? There’s an old business saying ‘What gets measured, gets managed”. You want to measure metrics associated with the desired outcomes for your content. For instance, if you are using content to drive awareness, then measure metrics that would signal an increase in awareness. Such as traffic to your content channels, engagement with your content, and an increase in UGC.
It’s a good idea to audit your content strategy at least once every 12 months. Review the previous year’s content performance, and see how well you met your content goals. If necessary, you can adjust your strategy and implement new goals and desired outcomes. You should always think of your content strategy as something that’s malleable, there’s nothing wrong with changing or adapting your content strategy. This is to be expected, as your customers and how they interact and consume content changes.
The value of a buyer persona
One of the most overlooked areas of content creation are buyer personas. A buyer persona is an abstract representation of your ideal customer. Why is a buyer persona so important? Think of buyer personas as a snapshot of the daily life of your ideal customer. Buyer personas help your content teams get a better sense of the person they are creating content for.
Here’s a sample buyer persona I created for a customer called ‘Sarah’:
If you need more help, I’ve written a detailed article on how to create buyer personas for your content strategy.
So there’s your framework for creating, developing and managing a content strategy for your B2C company. If you have more questions about creating a content strategy, please fill out the form below!