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Content marketing is essential for any company wanting to succeed in a twenty-first century climate. Customers are most obviously the key to your company's stability and financial future. And obviously, the optimal means of reaching such customers is through carefully developed and successfully implemented content marketing strategies. Thus, it is critical that you begin to investigate and subsequently generate these types of strategies for your company.

Keep in mind, content marketing strategy and content strategy are not the same. Understanding the difference between the two, prior to creating your own content marketing strategy, is important.

Content marketing strategy: Content marketers are responsible for devising and developing the larger story that an organization tells. They focus on ways to engage audiences and meaningfully communicate with customers using content in order to drive profitable behaviors

Content Strategy: Content strategists on the other hand, dive deeper into (in Kristina Halvorson's words) "the creation, publication, and governance of useful, usable content." As the Content Wrangler, Scott Abel, notes, "content strategy helps you manage content as a business asset."

The impact of your content strategy:

Simply put, the web, social media, and what amounts to a mobile revolution, have collectively had a hand in changing the world. We are all connected, information flowing seamlessly and instantaneously.

The definition of marketing as a result, has been profoundly altered. It is no longer just about promotion, but rather it is about sharing information, communicating on more consequential and still casual levels, understanding people in more complex ways than traditional marketers ever needed to before. Traditional techniques are no longer as effective as they used to be, if they are effective at all. The amount of content and messaging being delivered to consumers every day is increasing exponentially. What does this mean for your business? You need to be engaged and you need to engage. Creating powerful and dynamic content is the only way for your company to stay current and relevant. Consequently, understanding your consumers and knowing how to address their needs and concerns through a variety of content marketing venues and channels is of the utmost importance.

Five key factors for an effective content marketing strategy:

Think of a content marketing strategy, as an outline of your key business and customer needs. Generate a detailed plan for how you will use content to address these needs:

Your business case for innovating with content marketing: By communicating your reasons for creating content, the risks involved, and your vision of what success will look like, you are much more likely to gain executive support for your strategy and to get permission to make a mistake here and there as you figure out what works best for your business.

Your Business plan for content marketing: This covers the goals you have for your content program, the unique value you are looking to provide through your content, and details of your business model. It should also outline the obstacles and opportunities you may encounter as you execute your plan.

Your Audience personas and content maps: This is where you describe the specific audiences for whom you will create content, what their needs are, and what their content engagement cycle might look like. You may also want to map out content you can deliver throughout their buyer's journey in order to move them closer to their goals.

Your brand story: Here, you characterize your content marketing in terms of what ideas and messages you want to communicate, how those messages differ from the competition, and how you see the landscape evolving once you have shared them with your audience.

Your channel plan: This should include the platforms you will use to tell your story; what your criteria, processes, and objectives are for each one; and how you will connect them so that they create a cohesive brand conversation