New clients sometimes come into content meetings excited to get posts online fast. And while this is wonderful energy, you always have to take a step back first to develop the content marketing strategy.

It can be difficult to remember all of the questions to ask a new client, and you may find yourself sending numerous follow-up emails to get everything you need.

To make it easier, we’ve organized a content marketing checklist. You should make sure clients answer at least these 10 questions before launching a content strategy. It will also help to shape the content plan and keep you on track.

10 questions to ask to form a content marketing strategy

1. Who is the buyer persona?

If you’re working with startups or new companies, they might not even have this information. And how can you start a content marketing plan if you don’t know who to target?

Be careful with clients that answer this question with “anyone in technology” or a very general audience. If you target everyone, you ultimately reach no one, so make sure the client has a narrowed down vision of the buyer persona.

2. What does the buyer persona do online?

Now that you know who to target, what do they do online? What networks do they regularly check and what do they usually read? All of this information is crucial to developing a plan and getting the content in front of the right people.

3. What are the challenges and opportunities of the target market?

Content should always provide value to the reader, so you’ll need to know what their pain points are so you can address them through a blog or social posts. What value-driven content can address these challenges and opportunities? That will be key to getting your content read.

4. What value does the client’s product/service offer the target market?

Messaging can get tricky if your client can’t answer this question in one or two lines. Sometimes clients get so caught up in the technical side of their product that they forget that they really need to describe the value it provides first.

You can help your client narrow this down, but before launching a content plan, it’s vital to have this core messaging organized.

5. What content performed the best and worst so far?

If your client has already published some content, what worked and what didn’t? This question also assesses whether or not your client knows how to measure a content marketing campaign and if they have the right analytic tools in place.

6. What voice/tone resonates with the target?

Clients can usually answer this if they have already published content. It’s helpful to know if a more formal, academic approach or lighter, humor-based approach works better with readers. This information may also come to light if your client has a robust buyer persona.

7. Do you have documented brand and style guidelines?

You may find yourself rewriting content unnecessarily if you don’t ask your client for this up front. Maybe they used another marketing agency in the past and want to stick with the same style guidelines, or maybe they have preferences on grammar choices.

Ask this first, so you don’t have to rewrite later. Also, this should be documented, so if the client doesn’t have this on-hand, then it’s another task for your team.

8. What is the content approval process?

If you write a blog, how many people have to review it and in what order? Who approves social and how quickly?

Especially for new clients, if this isn’t discussed, you may find yourself with 15 people reviewing one piece of content. Therefore, it’s important to have a content approval process in place.

9. What SEO tactics have you implemented so far?

This question also tests your client’s knowledge of SEO. Have they done a keyword search? Do they know where they rank?

You’ll want to know first if they have any idea on SEO best practices and second what they’ve done, in case you need to fix or update anything.

10. What content automation or tools do you use?

We’re in a technological age where so many processes are automated. Ask your client what they already use (in case they like their platform) and make sure to get access to it. If they don’t use anything, introduce a new automation tool from the get-go. Don’t get locked into using spreadsheets for anything!

These questions will help narrow down the scope of work and outline the content marketing strategy. While more questions will arise along the way, these 10 can get you on your way.