How to develop a sound content marketing strategy

Expert Mirko Lange’s guide through the “content jungle”

Content marketing is nothing new anymore for event planners, venue operators and destination marketing managers. However, it is sometimes hard to focus on the essentials when faced with a wide variety of goals, channels to use and trends to follow. Content marketing expert Mirko Lange provides tips how to come up with the right strategy and implement it.

Status quo: too much content, not enough planning

“Here’s the problem: We‘re all constantly producing content. The choice of channels is ever growing and more and more teams get involved in the work,” says Mirko Lange. “What we can observe is that companies are often very much overwhelmed. They resort to hasty measures and simply producing isolated content for specific channels. However, what’s missing, is an overall plan that meaningfully connects all the different dots,” so the analysis of the communications and PR expert.

Marketing professionals and managers are not only caught in a jungle of marketing goals and techniques; they’re also confronted with phenomena such as “content shock” or “channel overkill”. All in all, a rather worrying and frustrating scenario.

What is content marketing?

Let’s go back to the question what content marketing actually means. It is, so Lange, “a marketing technique addressing a target audience not with advertising but with content that informs, entertains and is of an advisory nature in order to reach different goals” – e.g., more website traffic or better rankings. For the classic sales funnel, this means that its increasingly less effective mode of operation, with the elements advertising, marketing, sales and service, is being replaced with a new model that, on each level, revolves around content.

According to Lange, there is one guiding principle that applies to every step on the way, from addressing potential customers to closing a deal and the subsequent customer management: Content needs to be useful and what is useful, is defined by the extent to which a specific piece of content satisfies a need.

Here is how the GCB markets its content:

What is good content?

Lange’s answer to that question is that “good content connects the needs of your audience with your own expertise and conversion.” In this context, it is vital to have a “core story” that each and every content marketing measure is derived from.

However, marketing professionals who want to quickly implement good content need to be aware of one pitfall in particular; the issue of silos. Or, in other words, different departments in companies that often independently of each other produce content: “Content must not develop out of silos but be based on themes,” says Lange. A solid content strategy is the basis for this, ensuring that company goals are pursued jointly: “Don’t publish articles before goals and benefits have clearly been defined. Working with a strategic basis also means that companies become more aware of how they use their limited resources and hence, work more effectively.”

Mirko Lange

Mirko Lange is one of the most renowned strategy consultants for content marketing in Germany. He is the founder and CEO of scompler, a strategic editorial planner, as well as vice president of content strategy consulting for the Canadian content marketing provider ScribbleLive. Mirko Lange has more than 20 years experience in fields of corporate communications, PR and online marketing. The current consulting customers include companies such as Deutsche Bahn and Vattenfall. In addition Mirko Lange is a publicist and lecturer at several German universities.

Michelin Guide – successful content marketing more than 100 years ago

The Michelin Guide is a very old best practice example for content marketing. More than 100 years ago, this hotel, travel and restaurant guide was launched by the tire manufacturer Michelin as a directory providing useful information for motorists (e.g., car mechanics, petrol stations). The renowned publication quickly developed into a stand-alone product, independent of the company, while still – or maybe precisely because of that – contributing to the positive image of the brand name Michelin to this day.

How to develop a content strategy

A well-thought-out content strategy needs the combination of an organically integrated company, i.e., overcoming silos, with a clear focus on useful content, i.e., taking on the perspective of potential customers.

Bottomline: Don’t start with the second step

Lange is convinced: “As soon as marketing managers realise that a strategy has to be the basis for all content activities, the first step has been taken. If you’re really aware of the issue at hand and start dealing with it, it automatically leads to taking all the steps involved in the right order – instead of, as is often the case, resorting to pointless actions und distributing content without a strategic concept.”