The art of content marketing is essential in today’s online business world. Put simply, content marketing is the distribution of content specifically designed to appeal to your target audience for a specific purpose. This usually refers to online communication, and generally encompasses everything from social media to your website to your blog to your e-newsletter to any ads you run.
Being such a broad subject, developing a specific content marketing strategy is the best way to ensure your efforts in this area are successful. Creating this plan isn’t as daunting as you might think. In fact, most of the information you need is probably already part of your business plan. Before you start planning, build a foundation by answering these four questions:
Who do you want to reach? This comes down to your target market. Hopefully, you have a detailed mental picture of exactly who your ideal customer or client is. All your content messaging should be worded in a way that will appeal to that target.
What are you trying to say? Essentially, this is your “secret sauce.” What is it you have that your clients/customers need? How can you communicate about your products or services in a way that makes your target market realize how much they need what you have to offer?
What do you want to get out of it? Figure out exactly what your goal is with content marketing. Do you hope to acquire new clients or customers? Are you simply trying to raise brand awareness? Do you want to build a radical tribe of loyal online followers?
Where do you need to show up? There is a multitude of outlets you can chose from for your content marketing. The key you need to determine is which of them will appeal to your target market. A website, blog, e-newsletter, and some sort of social interaction are universally applicable. Beyond that, your task is figuring out which social networks your target audiences use most frequently so you know where to focus your energy.
After you’ve asked those four questions, it’s time to move on to phase two: creating and implementing your strategy.
Build your content marketing strategy. There are many different ways to approach this. The main questions you’ll want to answer are where you’ll be distributing your content (blog, social media, etc.), how often you’ll be posting for each avenue, what you’ll be communicating, and the voice you’ll use to communicate.
- Where: You’ll need to create a plan for each outlet you’ve decided to commit to, including plans unique to each social media platform you choose.
- How Often: Create a schedule for everything. Will you post blogs bi-weekly? Send e-newsletters quarterly or monthly? Post to Facebook twice a day? You get the idea.
- What: Write down ideas of what your content will be about. The more detailed you are, the better and more strategic your communication will be. You can do this however makes sense to you, but a few ideas are: choose a “theme” each quarter to focus your messaging around; list specific blogs you want to write; time e-news communication around holidays; create an “idea generator” for social media posts.
- Voice: This comes back to your target audience and your brand voice. Will you be serious? Humorous? Informative? Determine ahead of time what sort of “personality” your brand will have online, and stick to it consistently across the board.
Build your team. You may not have the resources of employees, but you can still build a team. Trying to be a one-man-band handling all areas of content marketing is a hard job. Here are a few of the components of content marketing you may need to delegate to other people on your team: social media management, blogging, e-newsletter creation and distribution, graphic design, and SEO. Finding at least one other person to help will make your plan much more successful.
Build momentum. Begin implementing the plan… And stick to it! If you’re new to content marketing, it’ll take a minimum commitment of about a year before you start to see traction. Consistency is key in getting to that point! What will help is identifying strategic analytic tools that will help you measure the progress you’re making towards your goals.
Building a content marketing strategy is one of the smartest things you can do for your business. It’ll take time and effort, but eventually the payoff will be well worth the investment. One last tip: doing this a little at a time can be a challenge. We suggest blocking off a day or two (or make a retreat out of it!) to dive in, immerse yourself in the process, and come out the other side with a solid content marketing strategy!