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Content marketing without a plan is doomed to fail

A documented strategy is a must if you want to be successful with content marketing.

That’s the conclusion of the first-ever Milwaukee Area B2B Content Marketing survey, recently conducted by Cultivate. The majority of the marketing managers who responded to this survey (68%) don’t have one, and that limits their ability to be effective with content marketing. Here’s why.

Imagine building a house without a plan

When you build a house, what do you do first? You would never just lay bricks, put up siding and paint rooms, in random order. You must have a plan, a blueprint of the house design that includes all of the critical measurements and a list of the materials that will be needed to construct it. It’s definitely not one of those “Let’s just get started building stuff” projects!

It’s the same way with content marketing. To be successful, you can’t just start producing content. You need a specific business objective. You need to deeply understand the needs of your target audience. And you must formulate a plan that will guide your actions.

Despite this, far too many brands are still in the “let’s build stuff” stage of content marketing. And then they wonder why it isn’t working as effectively as they had hoped. What’s failing them is not the practice of content marketing, but the way in which they’re going about it.

Without a solid strategy, the isolated pieces of content you’ve created will have little or no impact, like the dying ripples of a rock tossed into a placid lake. To be effective, content must tie back to a specific persona and a point on the customer journey. Ultimately, it must move the needle, generate sales or positively impact the customer experience in other measurable ways.

To be effective, content must tie back to a specific persona and a point on the customer journey.

Otherwise it’s an exercise in futility.

Do the foundational work. It will give your content marketing initiative some much-needed direction, efficiency and impact.

What if you’re just starting out with your content initiative and you’re testing the waters? Go ahead and do that. We all had to start somewhere. But the important thing to remember is this: DON’T STAY THERE.

Once you’re satisfied that content marketing makes sense as an integral part of your marketing mix, take a step back and do the proper planning, to ensure that your content marketing initiative will deliver the results you need.

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Robert Wendt has 30 years of experience in direct mail and marketing communications and is an expert on content marketing. As president and owner of Cultivate Communications, he’s helped countless companies grow their businesses using inventive sales and marketing strategies.

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