Ever heard someone say, “we had a great strategy but just lacked the means to implement it?” That is pure hogwash. A strategy that has no pathway to implementation is not a great strategy. And this is especially true in content marketing. The following are the ten rules to keep in mind when crafting an effective content marketing strategy for your business.

1. Thou shall be relevant

The biggest mistake content marketers do is focusing too much on current trends. This results in creating content that is superficial and redundant. A good content marketer concentrates more on being relevant to their audience. In other words, your content should be geared at meeting the unique needs of your defined audience.

2. Thou shall focus on your brand

A good content strategy should nail the brand strategy by defining the reason for being in the market. The content marketing team should always remember why they are competing with businesses in the same niche. This will help to keep the message communicated through content as consistent as possible.

3. Thou shall know your budget

Content marketing is an expensive affair – but it can also be done inexpensively. Before you start developing your strategy, take time to know your budgetary constraints. This will help to keep plans realistic. It will also help you establish the best types of content to concentrate on. A budget is also important in estimating the success of your content strategy because you can use the amount allocated to guestimate the return on investment.

4. Thou shall ride the news

Even though your content must always seek to address the unique needs of your audience, you must also look for hot news topics that you can ride. This is an easy way of making your content viral. However, don’t make the mistake of jumping on anything and everything that is trending. Some trends will do your brand more harm than good. As a rule of thumb, only ride waves that are relevant to your niche.

5. Thou shall plan

No content marketer fails intentionally. No one plans to fail. But the reason most content marketers end up failing is that they fail to plan. When you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. Most people assume that spending too much time planning is wasting precious time that would have gone into the execution of the project. But the truth is, when you spend enough time planning, you save a lot of time during the actual execution. Time spent on planning is never time wasted.

6. Thou shall set the creatives free

Your creative team should be given the space to do what they do best. If you are constantly harassing them or trying to think for them, their creative juices will simply stop flowing and they will turn into ordinary employees. Creatives should be given the space to take your ideas and spin them into something truly amazing. Sometimes, this means allowing your creatives to document and tell a story as it is – even if there is no immediate benefit to the organization

7. Thou shall be self-less

If you spend too much time talking about yourself, you end up sounding like a braggart and no one likes a braggart. Your audience isn’t interested in reading about you – they are interested in reading content that helps them. As a content marketer, your responsibility is to create content that promotes engagement and builds trust and this means that 99% of the time, you shouldn’t be talking about yourself.

8. Thou shall not plagiarize

We live in the information age and the average internet user is bombarded with lots of information every single day.  When you use data from a secondary source, it is best to give credits to the author(s) by referencing them. If you don’t, your readers will probably come across the source and your plagiarism sins will find you out. Besides, you sound more credible when you add relevant references to your content.

9. Thou shall not oversell

Content marketing is not all about selling. It’s okay to subtly sell once in a while but this should be the exception rather than the rule. For every content that attempts to sell something, you should have at least 5 other pieces of content that are purely informational and not aimed at selling anything.

10. Thou shall be focused

A good content marketing strategy will clearly outline the primary objective of the content marketing team as a whole and also have other related objectives for the individual team members. Each team member should stick to their objective and remain focused on the overall objective. It is not about producing content for every exciting thing that comes up but remaining focused on building a strong brand based on the primary objectives.

So there you have it – the ten commandments of a winning content strategy. Once you have your strategy in place, remember to review it from time to time because as the organization evolves, the needs will evolve too. But always remember not to drift away from the primary objective of the strategy. 

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