Planning a long-term content marketing strategy

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If you’re a marketer, it’s likely you’ve heard of HubSpot, an inbound marketing and sales strategy company. In addition to providing expertise and software for these services, HubSpot also offers an academy for training and certification courses. I recently completed the Content Marketing course and it was both informative and inspiring. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for more knowledge on how content marketing can fuel customer growth.

For this certification course, there are ten online classes. They range from Storytelling to How to Foster a Growth Market Mindset. Over my next two blog posts, I will share a few highlights. This post will focus on strategy and the next will highlight promotion and measurement.

What exactly is content marketing?

First, let’s begin by defining content marketing. According to HubSpot, content marketing is a strategic marketing and business process focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content. Ultimately, the goal is to attract and retain a defined audience and drive profitable customer action.

So in layman’s terms, it’s how you communicate with your potential customers to attract them. Then, it’s how you engage with your converted customers to keep them.

Getting started

Bright colored chart with the acronym of SMART, which stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely when crafting goals to support content marketing.

Photo Credit –

Before you craft your long-term content marketing strategy, it’s important to review your sales and marketing goals. And think SMART. Maybe you’ve seen this acronym before? SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. 

SMART goals are important because they clarify what you are trying to do, ask you to pre-determine success parameters and hold you accountable to a time frame.

The Buyer’s Journey + The Marketing Funnel

When crafting your long-term strategy, you should keep two things in mind. One is the Buyer’s Journey and the other is the Marketing Funnel. They go hand in hand and relate to your customer and how you should communicate with them.

                        BUYER’S JOURNEY                                                        MARKETING FUNNEL

The Buyer's Journey stages of Awareness, Consideration and Decison aligned with the Marketing Funnel stages of Visit, Lead, MQL, SQL, Opportunity and Customer to help with content marketing.

The Buyer’s Journey consists of three stages: Awareness, Consideration and Decision. This journey should align with your sales and marketing funnel, which has six stages: Visit, Lead, MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead), SQL (Sales Qualified Lead), Opportunity and Customer. You should map your content creation to both the journey and the funnel to support inbound marketing tactics.

  • Awareness = Visit, Lead
  • Consideration = Marketing and Sales Qualified Leads
  • Decision = Opportunity, Customer

So, let’s talk through this.

Creating awareness

When potential customers are in the Awareness stage, this is the “courting” stage. Engage with them and define your positioning. Let them know who you are, what you are, what you stand for and why they should care. Blogs and social media are great platforms for this type of messaging.

Fostering consideration

When potential customers move to the Consideration stage, delineate and differentiate. Answer their questions and provide relevant product/service information. At this stage, you should also include a CTA or call to action to help move them towards the Decision stage. Custom landing pages, form fills and email marketing can help you share your CTA, track your leads and cultivate deeper engagement.

Closing the deal with a decision

The final stage is Decision. This is the time to address any concerns or problems your potential customers may have. Competitor analysis,  case studies and trial downloads work best. These tactics allow you to highlight product and service attributes, while encouraging interaction with your brand.

And there you have it. A few tips and tricks for successful content marketing! I welcome your feedback and perspectives on your own content marketing efforts. Do share – we are a community!

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Martha · at

Well written Deb. I’d be interested in your thinking on the “difference between marketing and selling”. My personal opinion is that in one organization it might be the same thing while in another it is two completely separate functions. There seems to be a lot of differing opinions out there in the business world.

Shani · at

Hi! This was a great post and very informative. I appreciate your time. Thanks!

Gabriela · at

I like your post and your way of explaining what content marketing is. I think one very important step before creating a content marketing strategy is to find out what your customers want to hear. A big mistake I see often is that companies create content based on what they want to tell, rather than what the customer wants to hear and learn from you. These two don’t always match.

Kevin Scalf · at

This is very informative Cooldeb. Inbound marketing has brought about great changes in the thinking how we connect with customers. Direct response has been turned on its head with this new paradigm. And HubSpot has made great inroads to provide marketers with the tools to not only capture information but to help them to be able to change strategies and on a dime. I’m buying the next round for HubSpot!

cooldeb · at

Absolutely Gabriela! You can’t pull potential customers in or keep current customer close to you if your content isn’t desired, relevant, helpful, insightful, entertaining…the list is rich! With that said, none of it matters if it isn’t customer centric and something they want.

Jim · at

Good stuff Deb. A couple other areas to consider. Don’t forget the power of video to tell your story and the power of testimonials/reviews to close the deal!

Debbie Schallock · at

Video is a wonderful format for storytelling Jim. You can really get emotion across. Appreciate that suggestion! And agreed, there’s nothing more powerful than a happy client testimonial…a different perspective for word-of- mouth. Both are valuable tools for successful content marketing.

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