This post is part of a monthly series on how to best utilize your personal branding and media benefits. [Note: This benefit is for Forbes Councils members only. Click here to find out if you qualify.]

Every year, the industry reports confirm what we already know: Content is still king, and it represents a growing slice of many organizations’ marketing budgets.

Contributing thought leadership articles to publications like Forbes.com is, of course, just one small (if crucial) part of the content puzzle. There are dozens of elements in an effective content marketing effort, from email campaigns to press releases, web copy, social media and beyond. But I believe bylines can be an excellent tool for growing your company’s credibility when used right.

In other words, you need a plan. Which is why this stat from the most recent Content Marketing Institute (CMI)/MarketingProfs report caught my eye:

While 91 percent of the 870 B2B marketers surveyed said their organizations used content marketing, only 37 percent had a documented content marketing strategy. (Notably, the figure was much higher among respondents who were most successful in their efforts, at 62 percent.)

If you’re investing your time and energy into creating content, you deserve to see positive results. But if you’re not tying your content to a strategy, and a set of definable goals, I think you’ll find it hard to justify the resources.

With that in mind, I rounded up some of my favorite beginner’s resources on content strategy. If you’re new to content marketing, some of these resources might be more detailed than what you need — but that’s OK. Consider it an investment in the future. Plus, after you start reading, I think you’ll notice a few common themes emerge:

  • Successful content marketing starts with clear goals…
  • …and a well-defined audience.

Getting results from content isn’t rocket science; it starts with knowing what you need to accomplish and who you’re trying to reach. 

If you’d like to see better results from your content efforts, take a look.

  1. CMI: The Essentials of a Documented Content Marketing Strategy: 36 Questions to Answer (email required to download PDF).
  2. HubSpot: How to Develop a Content Strategy: A Start-to-Finish Guide. Tip: “External content” is how you’d classify your publishing benefits as a member.
  3. Moz: Chapter 2: Content Strategy (from their exhaustive Beginner’s Guide to Content Marketing). Tip: I highly recommend you check out Chapter 1 on what content marketing is first. From Moz: “Content marketing is a wonderful example of what’s referred to as flywheel marketing: At first, it takes quite a bit of effort just to get the wheel turning. Over time, though, the wheel’s own momentum lessens the effort required of you to see the same results.”
  4. Convince & Convert: How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy.
  5. Search Engine Journal: 5 Steps to a Content Strategy That Works. This piece is geared more toward the tangible, technical results that accompany intangibles like credibility, reputation and trust.
  6. Sprout: 17 Tips for Creating a Content Marketing Plan.

One final point worth noting: Nearly all of the companies I linked to above work, directly or indirectly, to support other marketers. By creating these free resources, they’re offering their expertise to build their audience, gain credibility and industry exposure, and get the ‘flywheel’ turning for their own marketing efforts. Now that’s smart thinking!

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