The 5 W's as the foundation for your content strategy

The 5 W's as the foundation for your content strategy

Marketers concerned with in content marketing can learn from journalists. The first thing journalists learn during their courses is the importance of the five W's, which are the basic elements of a good story. To tell a clear story, every news article should answer the five W-questions: who, what, where, when, and why? The W-questions are not only a solid foundation for journalism but also for anyone looking to establish a good content strategy. When creating "business content," it is essential to focus on the story you want to tell and the goal you want to achieve. While "who" is the key question in journalism, in content strategy, it all begins with the "why."

Read below how the five W's can assist you in developing a content strategy.

The 5 w's: ask yourself the following questions

Ask yourself the following five w-questions that serve as the foundation for your content strategy.

1. Why do you create the content?

You do not create content just for the sake of enjoyment. You likely have specific motives to embark on a content strategy. Try to convert these motives into concrete goals and write them down. In other words, what do you hope to achieve specifically with your content? It is important that these goals align with the organizational and strategic objectives that already exist. Therefore, answer the question: How will the content strategy integrate with the other strategic goals and efforts? When you can answer this question properly, you will be most effective. You will know that the content objectives align with the other organizational objectives you want to achieve. Examples of objectives include attracting new customers, increasing brand awareness, improving online visibility, or encouraging your audience to talk about your organization.

2. Who is your audience and who are you?

The next W-question revolves around getting to know your audience and yourself. You need to discover who your ideal customers are and what they want. Ultimately, you must know your ideal customers well enough to understand their biggest problems and desires. This can be achieved, for example, by developing buyer personas. This involves creating customer profiles based on factors such as age, gender, location, occupation, hobbies, and pain points. The second part of the question is equally important: who are you? What is unique about your organization, and what are your motives? When you can answer these questions, you will have a stronger foundation for your content strategy.

3. What do you want to achieve with the content?

You create content because you want to achieve a certain effect with your ideal customer. For example, you may want them to make a purchase, subscribe to the newsletter, join your Facebook page, visit your website, etc. Make this primary goal specific so that you can design your calls to action accordingly. Also, consider how you will measure the effectiveness of your content efforts. After all, you want to know if you are achieving success with your efforts.

4. When and how are you going to develop content?

An important question is how and how often you can best present the content to your target group. A useful tool for this is developing a publishing schedule, such as an Editorial Calendar for example. In this schedule, you indicate which content you will publish on a daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis. Examples of daily content are tweets, while webinars and whitepapers are typically published monthly or quarterly. Also, in this step, consider the content you already have. What have you previously published in terms of printed brochures, newsletters, digital documents, and videos? This content may serve as valuable input for new content.

5. Where are you going to publish the content?

Now that you know why you're sharing content, who you're sharing it with, and when you're doing it, consider where you are going to share the content. Where do your ideal customers spend their time? How will they discover and share your content? Do they spend a lot of time online? If so, on which websites or social media platforms? A useful tool for this is the website This site provides information on people's demographic data. For example, you can see what people spend their time on and therefore, where they can be found. Lastly, remember that good content will naturally be found and shared when it is in the right location. There is no need to push it excessively towards your ideal customers.

Once you listed these five W's, you have a good foundation for your content strategy. The next step is creating the content. Check out an overview of the content creation process according to Inbound Marketing. 


This article is inspired by the book Content Rules van Ann Handley & C.C. Chapman (2010).