Content is king. Everyone seems to agree with this, but how do you achieve business goals through content? Many companies struggle with this and are often unable to deliver on this objective. To make it happen there must be a strategic approach to content production and delivery, and there must be a certain level of dedication to the effort as content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. I think it's important that marketers understand the basic, fundamental steps of developing and deploying a solid content marketing strategy as follows. What are your goals? More often than not, marketers want to jump in and just “get it done.” While I understand the urge to make things happen, it's imperative to understand the purpose -- what are your business goals and what are you working to achieve? Making sure that content generation is on brand and aligned with company objectives is the first and most important step. Who are you talking to? The second most important step is to determine who you are talking to. Target audience segmentation can be a tricky process depending on the size and complexity of what your organization offers. Taking the time to clearly identify each audience, associated demographics, ethnographics and psychographics, etc., is extremely important. Taking this information and applying it to create target audience personas can be very helpful to understand who you should be talking to, and it will help lay the foundation to determine what you should be talking about. What is important to your target audience? Content created in a vacuum can be an effort in vain, but informed content can be a goldmine. The minute you know who you're talking to and why, it becomes easier to figure out what they want to know. Now the fun starts as you're closing in on the holy grail of content marketing: understanding what unique content (that is well aligned with target audiences' needs, wants and desires) you can deliver more frequently and effectively than any other source. To get there you're going to leverage the personas that you created and you're going to spend time researching your target audiences to better understand where they go, what tools they use, the topics they're interested in, and anything else that you can learn about them. This effort can involve visiting Q&A sites, industry blogs, social media listening, interviewing your customer service team, sales team and key opinion leaders, and sometimes by conducting customer surveys. The conclusion of the process should be a well-defined content strategy that you feel will best attract and engage your target audiences, and at the same time, differentiate you as the unique source to get that content from. How will you attract your target audience? You must know what keywords are best to target. To do this you will conduct keyword research to determine the keywords target audience members are using to search for the types of content that you have determined they want. To do this, leverage tools like Google's Keyword Tool . Once you have identified the top target keywords and understand Search Engine Optimization (SEO ) best practices for content development you can start developing and optimizing content to rank well on Search Engines, which will deliver your desired target audience to your content pages. When you develop content, make sure to keep it simple, easy to read and not overly complicated. This will help ensure that it gets read by viewers. SEO is a foundational step to attract readers, but there are also other ways to market content such as Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising, display ads, content syndication networks, etc. Leverage these as needed. Which channels will you use? Developing strong channel marketing through integrated strategies is important. Typically you're going to consider email , blogs, PR efforts, social marketing, micosites and most importantly your website. Your company website is the hub of all communication and ultimately where your target audience members will engage with you once they've made the decision to buy from you. Make sure it's ready for the test. Following these steps is critical do developing a solid content marketing strategy that will help ensure success. Make sure you have conversion strategies in place and that you leverage analytics to understand what's working, what's not, and how to make necessary changes to drive results. Rhythm Interactive can work with you to develop a content marketing strategy that is right for your business.