“The Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins With One Step. Start Now.” One might say fortune cookies are an example of early content marketing  (particularly considering the amount of takeout we order.) While this tasty example may be a bit of a stretch, the wisdom on that little strip of paper is relevant when it comes to successful content strategy. As the world of marketing rapidly evolves around us, content strategy is a necessary discipline, aligning editorial and strategic The Content Strategy Hike: A Field Guide For Small Teams  business goals. It requires patience. It requires getting creative and using channels you may not have considered before. If you’re a small, or even one-person team, it requires these virtues and practices even more. Successful content strategy may not be a thousand mile journey, but you’re going to want to pack some trail mix. Here’s how to go the distance.  

1. Set Mile Markers

Tracking success metrics are crucial to your endurance. You want to engage audiences, keep them engaged, and see those long-term marketing wins. Therefore, you must have a map and be able to track your place along it from a bird’s eye view. Unlike the more immediately gratifying strategies, such as pay-per-click ads, the most effective content strategy can take between 6-18 months to yield its harvest. Create the heartiest abundance by thinking months ahead and setting realistic performance expectations to keep you motivated. Assess the performance of your current marketing channels (such as your website and social media efforts) and employ an analytic platform like Google Analytics. There are also keyword monitors, visibility metrics and ways to gauge your email effectiveness. Put this data into a spreadsheet, and look at metrics such as the traffic that comes to your website, time spent on your website, and unique vs. return visitors. Look at your social traffic, such as shares, comments, reviews and mentions. Looking at this allows you to understand what you can realistically expect from your content marketing and to identify the high-performing content that will best serve you down the road. You can log your metrics manually if you don’t use analytic software. You’ll just need a little more trail mix for that.

2. Seek The Help Of A Sherpa (Or Sherpas)

If you’re a small team, or a party of one, you know you have limited resources. You need to keep yourself and your team strong. Stay focused on the terrain ahead and consider employing the help of freelancers, contracted employees, agencies, or other outside resources. Make sure to find allies that really listen to your needs, who can work within your budget to create content that reflects your brand and goals. Once you’ve assembled your crew, help them succeed by providing clear performance expectations and insights they’ll need to deliver for you. Freelancers and agencies can be like an infusion of electrolytes to your team, delivering diversified expertise where your content strategy needs it most.  

3. Plot Your Course, Consider The Terrain, And Keep Going

Now it’s time to get your hands nice and dirty, exploring the fun stuff. Look at your editorial design, and define your target audience. Brainstorm ideas for content with your team and don’t shy away from experimentation. Try out new campaigns, thinking of ways to build remarkable customer experiences. Create an inspiring editorial calendar to keep you on track. Commit to posting on social media every day, or publishing two articles a week. To maximize your efforts, plan a content distribution strategy checklist to make sure you’re promoting your content when you publish. Make sure you’re hitting all the channels you want, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit, and Quora. Don’t forget to shout out and tag relevant people or businesses/organizations mentioned in your content. Consider podcasts, and video content in addition to articles and blogs. 

Remember, to take one step at a time, as the fortune cookie suggests, and enjoy the views along the way. We all know it’s about the journey on your trek to the highest peaks of Content Strategy success.