It’s not marketing if you don’t have a strategy

Lynn Manternach / Guest Editorial

Is your company implementing content marketing without a strategy?

The popularity and effectiveness of content marketing continue to increase. But there’s a lot more to content marketing than just content. You need to have a solid strategy in place to make sure the content you work so hard to create is having an impact from a marketing perspective.

New research shows that nine out of 10 business-to-business (B2B) marketers are using content marketing, but only 44 percent have a documented strategy. Among those who consider their content marketing approach ineffective, 84 percent are cranking out content without a strategy. That’s according to the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProf’s fourth annual B2B Content Marketing: 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America.

Content marketing is essentially an ongoing approach of using content to identify, engage, and satisfy customers. This happens across multiple channels, and is focused on satisfying a range of customer needs, including informational needs, helping to solve customer problems and addressing behavioral and human needs such as entertainment. The strategy part of content marketing is figuring out how to most effectively connect the customers’ needs with the company’s needs using compelling content.

In order to develop a solid strategy, you need a clear understanding of your targeted customers and what’s important to them. What is compelling to those inside your organization might be very different than what is compelling to your targeted customers. It can be dangerous to assume you know what customers want and need without research. Conducting market research helps you better understand what grabs the attention of your targeted customers, and that insight helps you help them in relevant and engaging ways.

Research-based insight into how your audience thinks and what it needs not only allows you to create highly-targeted content, but it also gives you the inside track on how to create products and services that address very specific problems.

Formal research is one way to get the insight you need. But it’s not the only way.

One of the easiest ways to conduct audience research is to be a member of your own market. Connect with your customers and potential customers on websites and blogs relevant to your market. Take part in conversations via social networking sites, blogs, forums and other online groups. Answer questions. Participate. Provide helpful insight where you can. And along the way, watch, listen and learn.

Focus on understanding your audience’s mindset. How do they look at the world? What’s important to them? What are their values? Also pay attention to their problems. Discovering unsolved problems gives you the opportunity to satisfy needs.

Research is hard work, especially if you decide to do it yourself. It’s a time-consuming process that requires you to wade through a lot of noise to get to the useful tidbits that help you understand your audience. And transitioning that insight into strategy that works within your overall business goals is challenging as well.

Content marketing requires a lot of effort whether you have a strategy behind it or not. It makes sense to get strategic, because it’s not marketing if you don’t have strategy.



Lynn Manternach is brand arsonist and president at MindFire Communications Inc. ( ) in Cedar Rapids and Le Claire. Contact Lynn at