Whether you’re just starting out with content marketing or you’ve been doing it for long, it never hurts to revisit your content marketing strategy to make sure it’s innovative, up-to-date, and relevant.

Today, you’ve got more competition than ever. And one of the best ways to get a leg-up on the competition is to have a smart, solid content marketing strategy in place. Such a plan helps to attract new customers, educate leads and prospects, drive revenue, and improve brand image.

Without a plan, success or failure is a gamble and you risk all your efforts going down the drain.

64% of marketers say that learning how to create a content marketing strategy is one of their greatest educational needs.

If you’re in that group and want to learn how to create a content marketing strategy for your business, read on for a strategy to follow in five easy steps.

Step 1: Define Your Content Marketing Mission and Goals

Setting out a content marketing mission statement is a great starting point. This statement helps you focus on what’s important when creating your content so your content marketing plan stays on track. It’s easy to get caught up in the what, how, and where part of content marketing and skip the most important aspect: the why.

So why do you need content marketing? Is it to generate leads? Build trust? Improve your audience’s experiences?

Just make sure your content marketing goals are sustainable for the long run and that they connect to your business’s main goals, mission, and vision. Stick to three to five goals and document them; this will help you create a focused and crystal-clear strategy.

Step 2: Determine Your “One Thing”

There is a lot of content on the web, and more and more is published every day. So what content will you create to set your business apart? What’s the heart and soul of your content marketing plan? Is it to:

* Be very useful?
* Motivate and inspire?
* Educate?
* Entertain?

The only appropriate answer to the above questions is yes! Otherwise, you risk creating more of the same and contributing to the enormous, growing content oversupply.

Going one step further is the only option to come up with your “one thing.” First, write all the brand messages your business uses. Then, look at your top three strongest competitors and cross off any messages on your list that they’re using too. This leaves you with a unique set of brand messages, which can help define your “one thing.”

Step 3: Understand Your Audience

Relevancy attracts attention. To be relevant, you must understand who you’re speaking to and targeting. And to create a successful strategy, you need to define your content’s target audience.

This is crucial, especially if you are new to content marketing. By knowing who your ideal audience is and what they need, you can create more relevant and valuable content that will resonate with them and convert them.

But if you’re an experienced marketer, your target market may have changed. Do you want to target a new audience or expand your current audience? Conducting market research can help you revisit your audience parameters, which is crucial to growing your audience.

Step 4: Conduct a Content Audit

You may already have a lot of content out there. This could be content that’s on your blog, podcasts, videos, and social media content.

The next step is to determine if that content is helping you achieve your goals.

To run a content audit, look at all the pieces of content you have, assess their usefulness, and identify the gaps. Also, look at how your content compares with that of your competitors, and figure out how any new content will fit in the market.

You can do your content audit using tools, such as Screaming Frog. With this tool, you’ll see how your content is working.

Step 5: Create a Content Calendar

Your content marketing strategy should go beyond the content you’ll create and should also cover how you’ll organize your content. An editorial calendar will help you be on the right track for publishing a diverse content library. Also, you can use a social media content calendar to promote and manage your content on other sites.

Planning is a key part of content marketing. So it’s great to use a content calendar to schedule all your content.

You can use Google Calendar and add the due dates for each piece of content you want to create. This works great if you’re not publishing loads of content.

However, if you’re publishing a lot of content, you have to manage a content team and the production workflow. Here, you can use managing tools such as Asana or a purpose-built editorial calendar tool like CoSchedule. These will enable you to schedule different parts of the content creation process.

The best way to find content to add to the calendar is to conduct initial research and see the topics your audience responds to.