We continue our column on Business Focus talking about Content Strategy. Last time we talked about Native Advertising which is closely related to content marketing. So today, let’s go and see what to do before jumping into the fray!

Content Strategy, how to lay the foundation for a solid campaign

Author: Erika 

Probably some of you have already heard of Content Marketing, after all it is one of those types of promotion that is going for the most along with Native Advertising. However, a campaign cannot work separately from a more comprehensive and long-lasting strategy.

“Having a precise and structured content strategy is key to creating winning digital campaigns.”

This is not only one of our mantras, but it should be that of every company that decides to approach (even for the first time) digital marketing. In fact, there is no content marketing without content strategy, or at least not one that works profitably.
So it’s extremely important to study and understand how we can leverage a winning strategy for our business, whatever it may be.

What are Content Marketing and Content Strategy

Content Strategy

First of all, let’s understand what it actually is.

Content marketing is the creation and distribution of useful and valuable content. All this aimed at a well-defined target audience in order to attract and acquire potential customers and make them take profitable actions.

The content strategy instead deals with the more “theoretical and strategic” aspects. In the strategy we must in fact include all sides related to the planning and management of content throughout its life cycle. This includes not only the creation and publication of the content, but also a careful analysis. In fact, we’re talking about a study that involves aligning content with a company’s goals, content development, production, measurement and even archiving. This entire phase precedes the implementation of the content itself.

Content strategy is what lies upstream, everything that defines and regulates the practical development process. In fact, the figure of the content strategist does not deal with the production of content, but focuses the attention to the planning of the same. This is the person responsible for deciding not only when content should be published but above all why it should be produced. In fact, each content is a single brick that goes to lay the foundation for the success of the whole communication strategy. It is therefore important to have a well-defined project, studied and that can be analyzed in every step.

Content Strategy: What you need to know before you start

We’ve said that content strategy is ultimately nothing more than a strategy that envisions a company’s business goals and then uses content as the primary means to achieve those goals.

Content can be of various types but one of the important focuses that these have in common is the intelligent use of stories and creative writing, in any form, but we’ll talk more on that in another article.

Content marketing, even in Japan, focuses on a variety of content that can range from a blog post to a confirmation page. The task of these productions is to build a connection of trust between a company’s products or services and its target audience. This becomes more fundamental in Japan, where gaining the trust of the customer means everything and has much more weight than in other countries. In fact, as we’ve mentioned in the past, the Japanese people are basically a traditionalist nation that doesn’t like change. In fact, once the target audience trusts and relies on a specific company, they never leave it again.

But this is just the beginning of the Content Strategy concept, so let’s take a more specific look at what is involved in a good strategy.

Content strategy: The Vision

Content Strategy

When we decide to approach something, if we want this thing to be successful, the fundamental basis is to have a clear vision of what this is all about.

Defining the goals, objectives, what we hope to accomplish and how we hope to accomplish it are the first steps toward writing a good business plan. This starts with a vision of what we want the company to be in three to five years, and then creating an action plan to achieve that vision. This is the foundation of a good strategy.

In addition to making a list of all these things, it is equally important to measure with milestones and goals that are solid enough to challenge ourselves but at the same time flexible and adaptable to any situation. And in this regard, this pandemic has certainly taught us very quickly that everything is mutable and everything can change in a matter of very few days. Hence precisely the importance of having stable and precise goals, but at the same time flexible and adaptable to any occasion. This will allow you to have things well clear and under control, and to start your journey from a stronger position.

This is all part of content strategy. Dealing with the vision, the pros and cons of how and why a piece of content will be created, managed, archived or updated.
At the end of the day, content strategy boils down to writing and planning content with specific goals and objectives in mind. Nothing we’re going to share should be disconnected from everything else in the content and business goals. That’s really where vision and purpose come into play.

Planning for success

Whatever project you’re working on, whether it’s personal or for a client, if you want to grow your content it becomes a matter of visibility. Inevitably we will find ourselves fighting for the top spot on google or finding our audience on social. To do this though, it means we need a strategy or otherwise a plan of action.

By now we know what we want to achieve with the content that we are going to create. The correct question to ask ourselves now is “how can we achieve it? In what way?” So let’s talk about the method.

Surely the first step is to have an edge over the competition, but we can’t all be Chiara Ferragni and be first in the field. So how can we do that? The answer is to have a solid and smart content marketing plan in place.

Getting discovered is one if not THE big ask in recent years and at the root of it all is always interpersonal relationships. Getting our friends and their friends to read and share is the first step toward expanding our audience. This could be the beginning of our strategy.
However, in order for this to work, we need to find the exact target of not only our audience but also our content. To get to this point we need to take a close look at what has already been done and how it is working, so let’s talk about analytics.

Here’s another important word in all strategies and, more generally, in all work: analysis.

Content review is indeed one of the most important steps in developing our strategy but it’s not the strategy itself. Doing a careful review of all the content that has already been shared, even by our competitors, will help us better understand what can work and what can’t. Next, we can go deep into analyzing our own content and repurposing it to see what might be more successful.

Thinking strategically really comes down to asking good and right questions at each step of the process.

Give the right purpose to your content

Content Strategy

In today’s world, where our smartphones and dashboards are crowded (or rather overcrowded) with all kinds of content, it becomes really important to carefully select what we are going to share. Throwing any kind of photo or video into the ether just to create presence no longer makes sense. It’s much better to invest time and energy in creating content that has a chance and a clear purpose.
Let’s remember that we want our content to be successful, to reach our audience and to make us gain something, be it brand awareness or other kind of profit. So why waste content before it has a chance?

The audience is now used to receiving endless content input and we want to make sure ours succeeds. We want to make sure that our content reaches our audience and leaves a good impression. We already know that Japanese audiences are not easy to impress. So, how can we achieve this? Simple, by planning our content and thinking strategically.

The key is always to have a strategy before creating any content. We should not just push out content for the sake of it, but rather think about its quality as well, and fit it into a specific time frame.

So, before we jump into the content creation fray we need to ask ourselves the right questions. What do we want to achieve? How does this new content fit in with the content we already have or are thinking about planning? What is the big picture of our content?

These are all fundamental questions to answer before we begin our production. Let’s not forget that we have a specific purpose, whatever that may be, and that purpose needs to be well defined. For example, are you creating content to increase brand awareness or generate leads? There are many purposes, but the important thing is to be clear about what they are so you can plan the right strategy.

Give your content a purpose and you’ll give your audience a reason to read, watch a video, like or re-share. The audience is not a flock of people but a living, intelligent organism, capable of understanding exactly where a piece of content is coming from and why we are publishing it. This is even more valuable with Japanese audiences who are increasingly attentive and selective in their search for content.

If we’re creating a piece of content for a reason and planning it in advance as part of our strategy, the audience will notice. Similarly, if we were to do the opposite and throw things out randomly, without a specific strategy behind it, the audience will notice it too.

That’s why purpose is so important.

Here’s the bottom line

Creating an effective content strategy that manages to connect with an audience and inspire them to action can seem really complicated. However, as we’ve come to realize, it’s the foundation of any successful marketing campaign. Creating content that has a purpose, that is part of a larger vision and that connects us with our audience is the foundation of any good communication strategy.

It’s not always a skill or resource that we find within all companies, which is why there are realities like ours that take care of following this whole part even on behalf of third parties. We take care of creating this model, producing the content and maintaining the work done and then repeating it. Our efforts are put into creating a strategy that will allow your potential audience to discover you. This makes it easier for you to focus on other aspects of your work, or just relax without having to think about it!