Have you ever gotten in your car with no destination in mind? Winging it may feel bold and fun for a Sunday drive, but it’s foolish in business. Whether you’re creating content for your blog, social media, or anything else, you’re likely wasting a lot of time if you don’t have a content marketing plan.

The longer you aimlessly create and share content, the harder it is to get on the right path. On the other hand, if you at least develop a strategy that targets your ideal audience and gives them answers they need, you may be able to get away with some inconsistent and—I hate to say it—mediocre content.

Even if your personas and messaging aren’t perfect, you can gradually fine-tune them with some effort. But without some strategy for your content, you will either not know what kind of content to create or you will just work haphazardly until your head figuratively explodes because you don’t know why it’s not attracting engagement, leads, or customers.

Be More Strategic

Not every post has to be predetermined and added to a calendar because sometimes you’ll want to post about a great customer experience, holiday hours, or something fun with no agenda other than the humans that make up your brand or business are just trying to share something good for other humans.

However, you will want to put some thought into most of your content—from social media posts to blog posts to articles and ebooks—because creating it can be a big investment of time, energy, and money.

A true content strategy isn’t just a list of ideas saved in a calendar. It’s a detailed plan that considers your customer, your budget, your goals, and the performance of past efforts. It’s essentially a road map that leads you right to the front door of your most important business goals.

It’s important to note that not all goals are created equal. Some may not serve your business, like posting every day just for the sake of frequency or trying to gain more followers regardless of who they are.

Figure out What You Have and What You Need

A professional can help you conduct a true content audit, but in lieu of that, you can start by writing down not only your business goals, but your content objectives. How should your content help you meet your overarching goals? You’ll eventually need content for each step of your customer’s journey, but start with what you have. Evaluating the efforts you’ve already made will give you a jumping off point when you don’t know what to create next.

Begin by identifying:

  • Existing content that meets those objectives.
  • Existing content that you can update or revise to meet them.
  • Content you can scrap because it doesn’t serve your goals.
  • Existing content you can repurpose to make the most of your content investments.
  • Content you need to create to connect with customers and meet your objectives.

Creating Quality Content Is Only Half the Plan

Once you set your goals, evaluate your content, plan content to fill in gaps, and start developing it, you may discover that you have more to do than you thought. You may need more content or have more work to do than you can manage with the team you have—especially if you’re the head content creator.

After you know what content you need, there will also be a lot of other details to decide, like what channels you want to use. As you likely know, this is all easier said than done.

One option is to get professional help, but even if you don’t, your vision and goals will help you take one strategic step—or post—at a time.