Template for Developing a B2B Content Marketing Strategy

content marketing strategy template.pngContent marketing can be tough, especially if you’re as organizationally incompetent as I am. (Seriously, it’s bad). If you’re like me, this gives you two options for achieving your content goals:

  1. Rely on tools to help organize and support your efforts

  2. Rely on highly organized teammates to keep you on track…to the point that they daydream about hiring a contract killer to end you.

I prefer a healthy mix of the two.

But since my esteemed colleagues would be better suited to write about the second option, this post will focus on the first – tools to facilitate your disorderly, yet well-intentioned content marketing strategy efforts.

Content marketing templates that I depend on

Every B2B content marketer relies on differing processes. The key is to find or create the tools that are flexible enough to be tailored to your specific, and often changing, needs.

At Integrate, we rely on three primary templates to continually refine and execute our content marketing strategy:

  • Quarterly Content Strategy Template (Worksheet C in Integrate’s demand marketing workbook)
  • Content Map (Worksheet D in the workbook)
  • Quarterly Content Calendar (worksheet E)

In this post, I’ll discuss the first template, and will cover the other two another time. (By the way, you can get all these templates and nine others by downloading the Demand Marketing Assessment Guide and Workbook…get the pdf here without providing any lead info.)

Quarterly Content Strategy Template

The first section of the template is straightforward and nothing special, but it’s important. It has you describe the goals of that quarter’s content efforts as well as the keys to achieving those goals.

Such goals can be incredibly varied, but you want to focus on your key departmental objectives that feed into sales, customer success and even product development.

Moreover, the higher up the demand marketing maturity curve you go, the more down-funnel your goals should be. For example, if you consider your organization to be pretty sophisticated, your goals should be focused on pipeline creation or even marketing-attributed revenue.

quarterly content strategy template section 1-1.png

The second section of the strategy template gets into the strategy itself. It’s a theme- or program-based outline that leads from high-level concepts (themes or programs) down to various sub-themes and on to individual pieces of content. The idea here is forming a logical framework around your persona messaging.

Every content marketer should strive to make an argument. We’re all essayists in a sense, but our arguments are usually delivered in pieces – blog posts, industry articles, white papers, ebooks, case studies – all working together to substantiate our overarching arguments regarding why prospects should invest in our products or services.

The template helps you organize these arguments in a logical way that will guide your strategy. Here’s the high-level framework on which the template is based:

  1. Program/theme: [E.g., "The Evolution of Cloud-Based Security"]
    1. Sub-theme No. 1: [E.g., "Why on-site storage undermines growth"]
      1. Subtheme No. 1 Content Pieces
        1. Blog post [E.g., 3 ways on-site storage ways down business agility]
        2. Infographic
        3. White paper
        4. Case study

…and so on through all your themes or programs.       

Look at the Content Strategy Template as a tool to outline each of your primary messaging stances (i.e., arguments). This may be just one or many themes/programs – it depends on the size of your organization, the number of products and services, and number of personas. At Integrate, we typically execute no more than four overarching, integrated programs at any given time, but we’re a very lean marketing department.

Now let's break down what each template layer – from program/theme to individual content pieces – should include.

Developing your program/theme ideas

For each program or theme, you should write a paragraph that outlines:

  • your definition of the theme or program
  • your organization's point of view (POV) or argument on the theme and why it's important
  • the personas targeted (it can be more than one, with sub-themes addressing differing personas), and
  • the key goals you hope to achieve with it (e.g., 500 MQLs from content developed on the theme).

Themes should be broad enough for your target personas to easily grasp the fundamental topic, but specific enough to allow you to present a unique perspective.

Supporting programs with sub-themes

Sub-themes are more focused points of your larger themes or programs. Taking the cloud security theme for example, something like "Why on-site storage undermines growth" would work. (Please forgive my made-up topics – I’m not an IT or data storage expert). The idea is that these sub-themes should act as premises that support your main themes’ overarching argument.

In the template, you'll describe the sub-theme and include any additional considerations that may apply; for example, your positioning/messaging as opposed to competitors' messaging, new product rollout, upcoming events that align with the sub-theme, etc.

Listing individual content pieces comprising each sub-theme

When listing content pieces, use this opportunity to brainstorm. You may have a lot of items or just some preliminary thoughts when completing the template – either is fine. These will all change a great deal throughout the quarter; this is simply a good way of getting the ideas flowing and documented early.

Basic info to jot down include:

  • a working title (which will inevitably change)
  • the basic point it'll make, and
  • where it’ll likely play into the customer lifecycle (e.g., top-funnel educational content, bottom-funnel sales enablement, etc.)

Moreover, you may only have a couple pieces of content per sub-theme or a great number of pieces. This will depend on factors such as how important/central the sub-theme is to your overall theme and quarterly goals.

A few extra notes

Remember: it's good to mix up topics – if you harp on the same themes and subthemes throughout a quarter, you'll bore your audience. Also, keep in mind that themes and sub-themes need only be tangentially aligned with your products and/or services to have value to your company. Of course, as your content moves down the funnel, it'll naturally need to be more focused on your products/services.

Further, keep in mind how you intend to repurpose individual pieces of content – for other content types (e.g., a white paper into an infographic) or at different places in the funnel (e.g., using a software guide for lead generation and in nurture tracks of an aligned theme or program.

This stuff can begin to get pretty complicated when you think of content positioning at various funnel stages; that’s why the next template I’ll discuss in an upcoming post is the Content Mapping Template.

For now, feel free to look through the entire workbook here: it includes a 30-something page pdf and an Excel file comprising a demand marketing assessment guide and 12 templates to help with your demand orchestration efforts.

demand-marketing-assessment-guide

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