Do you want to increase engagement and traffic to your site? Do you want to boost sales? Maybe you want to build a community of fans and followers? Your answer should obviously be yes to all of the above, and we are going to provide all the information you need to be ridiculously successful in achieving these goals.
So, why exactly are we providing you with this precious tactical information? Well, our team wants to give you every tool you need to get a leg up on the competition. We are going to stuff this full of all the immediately actionable tools that you need, in order to be successful in your own business today.
Are you still reading? Good, because this article is going to help take your success online to the next level. Follow this guide and you’ll be engaging your ideal customer with the high-value content they want it in no time!
Defining The Task At Hand
Before we get into the thick of things, it is important to have a firm grasp on the subject at hand. So, what exactly is content marketing?
In short, it is a marketing strategy aimed at producing information that will build trust and authority with your target audience.
When done correctly, content marketing will allow you to become recognized as a leader in your industry. Furthermore, it will help to build relationships, which will create loyalty to your brand.
Neil Patel has a great video explaining Content Marketing, which you should check out HERE.
Why Do I Need To Build A Content Marketing Strategy?
You need to develop a powerful content marketing strategy in order to lay the groundwork for your success. This foundation will pave the way for your online success.
By defining why you are creating content, and what you are trying to achieve with it, you will gain focus and clarity. It is important to do this before you start creating your content so that you have a strong direction.
By understanding your target audience, objectives, and strategy you will be able to create relevant, engaging content and stand out as an authority in your industry.
Through planning, you will ensure that you are creating content that will engage your ideal audience and take your business to the next level.
Ok, I’m In – So Where Do I Start?
You are in the planning stages so, create a simple planning document.
You are going to be making a lot of important decisions regarding the structure and management of your content marketing strategy and you need to document and track these decisions.
This doesn’t have to be a complicated document. You just want to end up with a simple, actionable strategy that will help guide your content creation.
We recommend creating an Excel document. Your document may vary from industry to industry, and based on what your organization's goals are, but the basic idea will remain the same.
You need to be tracking things like your core message, keywords, target audience, mission statement, secondary messages, business objectives and results.
That’s all there is to it. Now you have strategic planning documents.
If you are struggling with creating a document you can click HERE to download a great template by Quick Sprout, an industry leader in all things marketing.
It’s Time For Some Goals And Objectives
One of the first and most important steps you need to focus on is goal setting.
While planning your strategy it is critical that you determine what you want to accomplish. You should do this before you try to tackle how you will accomplish it. Just remember, What before How. Makes sense, right?
Don’t get discouraged by the goal setting process. Sometimes it can be tedious, but like any marketing strategy, you will be finding things that work and things that don’t work. Just test, test and test again.
Some of the goals and objectives we recommend focusing on are as follows:
- Determine how content marketing will help to grow your business: Is your focus on sales? Customer support? Prospecting? Generating interest in products?
- Define specific goals: Be specific. Name exactly what outcome you hope to see and why.
- Carry out a competitive analysis: choose 4 or 5 brands that are using content marketing successfully and evaluate their content.
- Determine how you are going to stand out from the crowd: Your content needs to be unique and offer something that no one else does.
- Determine your core message: Form your core message, mission statement, and secondary statements – state what benefits you are offering your customers above everyone else in your industry.
When first setting goals and objectives you may need to make some educated guesses, and this is ok. You can always change your mind, or make tweaks if you find that your original plan isn’t quite working.
Make sure you give your plan time, though. Stick with your plan for several months before determining whether you are seeing the results you need or not. Giving up too early, and changing your plan too often can be a deadly mistake.
Who Do You Want Reading Your Content?
Before you go any further you need to determine exactly who your target audience is. There is a saying that goes something along the lines of – if you target everyone, you won’t hit anyone.
You should try and be as specific as possible about the group of people who you are targeting. Your goal should be to determine the smallest group possible that is still large enough to meet your content marketing objectives.
For example, narrow your audience from “car lovers” to “Porsche lovers”. If you can, continue to narrow your target audience even further. Eg. “Porsche lovers” could be further narrowed to “911 Turbo drivers”.
Make sure that the audience you have identified is worthwhile. Just because you want to create content for “911 Turbo Drivers” doesn’t necessarily mean this market is a good fit.
Make sure the answer to all these questions is ‘Yes’ before you move forward:
- Is this group large enough to meet your content marketing objectives?
- Does this group want or need the content you are going to provide?
- Will this group benefit from your product and/or service?
- Can this group afford your product and/or service?
Now that you have an ideal customer in mind, you need to locate them. This step might be time-consuming, but it should be pretty simple. For example, find out what social media platforms they are using, events they are attending and media they subscribe to.
Make sure that you become a part of all these groups and further define the persona of the average person in your target audience.
It’s Finally Time To Get Down To Strategy
The first phase of your strategy building should be to take your core message and form a statement that conveys to your audience what benefits you are offering them.
You want to be sure that everybody that sees your content sees and understands your core message or at least the idea behind it.
If you are working on content that does not support your message, stop. Do not waste your time on topics or ideas that do not support your core message.
Every piece of content that you produce should be guided by your core message. In order to ensure that all content conveys your core message we recommend the following:
- Develop short, concise summaries of your message
- Develop a list of taglines
- Test the above summaries and taglines and tweak as necessary
The second phase of your strategy building will be to develop a list of keywords.
An easy place to start is with your secondary messages. Turn each of your secondary messages into key phrases or keywords by summarizing the content that will be created for those messages.
Another tactic for developing a keyword list is to use tools like Google Adwords.
Next, you need to determine exactly what type of content you want to create. There are a multitude of options and you shouldn’t feel limited to choosing just one or two. You can create one type of content or choose to create multiple types of content.
Your decision should, however, be based on your audience. Create the content your audience wants and/or needs. Don’t waste your time creating content that isn’t going to help you achieve your goals and objectives.
Now it’s time to decide where you are going to publish your content.
Whether you are posting blogs, videos, podcasts or eBooks you need to determine the publishing platform for each form of content you will be creating.
What social media platforms are you going to be active on? Don’t try to maintain a presence on every platform. Choose the channels that your customers are active on.
Each of these steps may require some research and getting used to, but you want to be sure you are comfortable with your publishing platforms, that they are helping you reach your objectives and that you are getting content up where your ideal customer is going to see it.
The final step of your strategy should be to establish a publication schedule.
You need to answer a few central questions when setting your schedule:
How often will I publish? Some bloggers publish an article once a month, while others publish something new each day. Determine a frequency that works for you and for your audience.
How long will my content be? Setting a word limit for written or a time limit for video/audio content is a pretty common practice. But, some follow the practice of allowing each form of content to be whatever length it needs to be in order to provide the necessary information. Whatever structure you follow you need to ensure you set standards and follow them.
What is my style going to be? Choose a style, or tone and follow through with it. Depending on your audience, maybe content with profanity and slang will work best, or maybe you need to take a professional tone. Whatever the case, don’t flip-flop. Changing your style or tone regularly will make it very hard for you to build authority
Consistency is the key here. You need to determine what will work for you and ensure that you remain consistent or you risk losing interest from your audience.
Don’t Forget About Content Management
The final step in developing the ultimate content marketing strategy is proper content management.
You need to have goals and objectives for each type of content or channel that you are publishing on. Don’t feel like you need to be limited to one goal each, but each type of content should have its own unique purpose or part in your strategy.
Some examples of goals could be - Engagement, Community Building, Education, Driving Traffic etc.
Be creative and set any goal you like, just keep in mind that you are working towards the ultimate goal of meeting your content marketing objectives as a whole.
Each form of content is going to be used a little differently to communicate with your audience, so now you need to determine what approach you want to take with each channel. This is where you will finalize exactly what types of content you will be posting to each channel.
Try to be as specific as possible. For example, you may decide that Twitter will work best for posting quotes and sayings, Instagram for thought leadership and Facebook for personal engagement.
Just like with your content, you need to determine and maintain your structure, tone, and style. These may vary depending on the channel but, keep in mind that every decision should be made with the objective of achieving the goals you have set out for each channel.
Finally, it’s time to establish your workflow process.
Here are a few questions that you need to both ask, and answer, in order to establish an efficient workflow process:
- Who will decide and assign the topics?
- Who will produce the content?
- Who will edit and approve the content?
- Who will upload the content?
- Who will promote the content across social media channels?
If there are multiple parties involved, ensure that the lines of communication are open and that everyone is on the same page. This will ensure that your overall business objectives are being met through each stage of the process.
An easy, if not necessary way, to keep everyone on the same page is to create a social media calendar. Google has a simple, shareable calendar that can be used when managing a few accounts. Otherwise, you may need to start looking at paid options like SproutSocial.
And remember, every business is different, so be sure to develop a workflow process that suits your business structure.
You made it, and should now have the tools to put together your content marketing objectives, planning tools, target audience, ideal customer, keywords, content strategy and a workflow process to get it all done!
So there you have it. You are ready to build an amazing content marketing strategy. By following these guidelines you will be able to engage your target audience and build relationships with them, creating loyal customers, and putting your competition to shame.