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    October 19, 2011 // 11:27 AM

    How to Patch Up Holes in Your Content Strategy

    Written by Pamela Vaughan | @

    swiss cheeseDoes your content strategy resemble a block of Swiss cheese? In other words, is your arsenal of content full of holes? Just like we all need a balanced diet in order to stay healthy, your content strategy must cover a healthy balance of topics, too! (Even though I would love to be able to survive on cheese alone.)

    All kidding aside, what we mean is that marketers need to make sure they're creating content that appeals to all segments of their target customers -- not just one or two. And because different prospects have different wants and needs, marketers must cover a range of topics that appeals to a variety of potential customers. So are you effectively covering all the topics that cater to your various targets?

    Here are a few steps to help you identify and patch up those annoying holes that are limiting the success of your content strategy.

    Step 1: Conduct a Content Audit

    The first step in making your content strategy resemble a less porous-looking cheese (like, say, cheddar) is to conduct a content audit. Gather up all the different types of content you've ever produced -- blog posts, ebooks, webinars, whitepapers, videos, etc. -- and categorize that content into different topic buckets. You can do this on two levels: first on a content type by content type basis (i.e. categorize by blog content, ebook content, webinar content, etc.) and second by content as a whole (across all types).

    What do you notice? Are you focusing on one topic more heavily than another? Are you avoiding a topic altogether? Do all of the ebooks you produce tend to be geared toward one specific topic? If so, was that intentional? If your audience largely craves content on one topic over another, maybe it's okay that you have an abundance of content focused on that one topic. And perhaps you've conducted some previous analysis that shows people prefer one content topic in the form of ebooks vs. webinars. If not, it might be time to do some research and patch up some holes.

    Step 2: Consult Your Marketing Personas

    Okay, so maybe step one has made you realize you have some holes in your content strategy. That's fine: overcoming denial is a great step toward recovery!

    The next think you should do is take a look at your business' marketing personas. First things first: have you created any marketing personas? Marketing personas are profiles of your ideal, target customers. You may just have one, but you likely have a few, and they probably have some variation in their wants and needs. If you haven't created marketing personas yet, spend some time thinking about them. What types of people make up your best customers? Who are they? What are their wants, needs, and problems? Give them names. (This article should help.)

    Once you've identified and done some critical thinking about your different marketing personas, come up with a list of content topics that might interest them. Then consult your content audit. Are you missing content on any topics you've identified as helpful for your personas? Are you light on content about topics you think your personas would value a lot?

    Step 3: Survey Your Customers, Prospects, and Sales/Customer Teams

    Putting yourself into the shoes of your marketing personas to help you identify their content needs is a great idea, but nothing is more telling than what customers and prospects say they need. Consider asking your customers and prospects what they think the holes in your content strategy are. Use email and/or your social media presence to survey your target audience and ask them which topics they wish you covered more. Ask them if there is anything you're missing. Use the various online tools and channels at your disposal to get a better sense of where you're falling short.

    Your sales team and customer service/support teams can also be a wealth of information on your prospects' and customers' needs. These teams are talking to potential and current customers every day, so they'll likely be able to shed some light on the needs of your audience. Don't overlook the benefit of asking for their input, too!

    Step 4: Identify Your Holes

    Likely, the first few steps we've covered have given you some valuable insights about where the holes in your content strategy are. Write them down, and incorporate them into your future content creation plan. Consider creating an editorial calendar. If you're missing content on topics you've identified as valuable to your audience, plan to focus on that topic more in your future content creation efforts.

    Step 5: Create That Missing Content!

    The last step? Easy! Start creating that missing content, optimizing it, and promoting it to your target audience. Chances are good that because you're now creating content that appeals to the needs of prospects you've never really targeted before, what will happen is you'll start attracting a new audience of people who are well-suited for your products and services. Who knows -- maybe you'll uncover a gold mine of customers you previously overlooked! 

    What else can you do to patch up holes in your content strategy?

    Image Credit: Patrick Hoesly

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