This first installment of our three-part series on creating and executing a comprehensive content strategy focuses on the most critical step in the process: planning.
A documented content strategy removes the guesswork from your marketing and gives you a roadmap to continuous improvement. The process begins with taking a full inventory of your current marketing activities, stakeholders, and competitors; developing specific audience personas; clearly articulating your goals; and putting a plan in place to hold you, your team, and key stakeholders accountable for those goals.
Start with Stakeholders
Whether your marketing team sprawls across multiple locations or you're a multitasking superhero who relies on other departments, it is important to build on a foundation of shared understanding. By interviewing everyone who touches anything related to marketing—from the director of marketing to your CRM administrator—you can ensure your content strategy meets the needs of all stakeholders.
Here are key questions to ask during those stakeholder interviews:
Strategy and Goals
- Is the current strategy meeting your objectives?
- What metrics does marketing use to measure success?
- Who are the primary audiences you’re working to engage?
- What are your competitors doing? How can you be better than they are?
Marketing Channels and Tactics
- Which marketing channels are most effective in building brand awareness, generating website traffic, converting leads to patients, etc.?
- How much is allocated for paid media?
Internal People and Processes
- How do internal stakeholders engage with key marketing functions, such as content creation, social media planning, governance, and measurement? Knowing this allows you to agree on who is in charge of what and identify gaps in your marketing process.
- How do stakeholders feel the brand is currently represented? Is there a difference in opinion? Are the brand tone and message unified? Is everyone invested and aware of your hospital’s current brand standards? Have those standards been articulated?
- How much time is the marketing team spending on each marketing function? Does each person have enough time to finish high-priority tasks?
- Are current workflows mapped? Are they effective?
- How are best practices shared across teams?
- What are your stakeholders’ thoughts and ideas about the future state of the hospital’s marketing strategy?
Review your current marketing channels and take an inventory of every Facebook page, Twitter account, and YouTube channel your organization has ever created—even if it is not currently active. This will allow you to measure how much activity each channel is generating, which ones you should devote more resources to, and which ones can be eliminated if needed.
In addition to social media account details, include:
- Internal content owners and stakeholders
- Frequency content is shared
- Who manages each channel
- Current processes for the channel (e.g. load content on Mondays and pull reports on Fridays)
- Budget allocated for each channel
- Baseline performance (followers, engagement)
If you are currently practicing SEO or running ads via Google AdWords, Bing, or other search engines, pull a list of the keywords you’ve used. Audit this list. Is it up to date? Are these keywords still important. Do they still make sense for your organization to target for a high ranking? It is important to audit your list for effectiveness and to be realistic. Broad keywords, such as “cancer care,” will be nearly impossible to rank for. Instead, aim for locality and specificity. “Best cancer treatment southwest” may be more effective than “cancer care.” By using these “long-tail” keywords, people looking for your services will be more likely find you easily, and your website will garner more visits.
Analyze your competitors’ emails, social media profiles, website content, and blogs. Is your brand differentiated enough? What are competitors doing well? Do you see best practices that you could adopt?
Use your competitors’ knowledge to improve your own marketing.
Ready to Take the Next Step?
Download our Step-by-Step Guide to Content Strategy and Execution.