Ok, ok, ok. Content marketing. Sounds simple enough. Add a little of this here, a little of that there—voila. Right? Wrong. Actually, really wrong. Content marketing takes planning, scheduling, and most importantly strategy. Now, ready for the good news?
You can totally do it!
You can have a kicka** content marketing campaign that will propel your business to new heights. And here is my dirty little secret—it isn't that hard!
So, how do you create this awesome, successful, organized campaign? Well, I've simplified it into 5 steps, you can thank me later.
1. Come up with a stellar topic.
Ok, so step one is self-explanatory, but I cannot tell you how many people I have seen go seriously astray here. Content marketing is all about telling a story. Remember when we talked about the 10 think you should know about content marketing? Well take a minute to refresh—I'll wait...
Ok, so now that we are all on the same page, back to step #1.
Choosing your topic is a critical step in making sure that your story makes sense to your target—and ultimately makes sure that they fall into your funnel and convert!
When choosing a topic, make sure that you are thinking with your brand-hat on. What do you offer? Are you service based? Are you a fashion blogger? Landscaper? Choose a topic that is specific to your niche. Don't worry about eliminating people who are looking for a broader approach to your genre of things (?) , odds are those people aren't at the correct persona level to move through your funnel—so leave them be.
Also, remember that you are a subject matter expert in your field! If you aren't then why would I want to listen to you, buy from you or trust your advice? So choose a topic that you can talk about! And I mean really talk about. No fluffy topics that leave you rambling about the same boring thing day after day.
If you are an expert in your field, you should be able to talk about a narrow subject matter for days. I mean, just think about it. I have worked with finance advisers that can go on for years just talking about 401ks. If they can do that, you can come up with a few thousand words to describe, relate, dissect and enlighten your topic for your audience.
2. Map out your approach.
So now that you have your stellar topic, it is time to get serious. Before even writing one sentence of supporting copy, I need you to do this. (I promise this is what will make your life a million times easier.) Map. It. Out. I am in LOVE with Microsoft Visio. Not only can you create awesome flow charts (great visuals for client work as well), but you can also create timelines, maps and more.
If the price tag is a bit heavy for you (which I totally get, uh hello!) I also love this free alternative: Draw.io.
Either way, you need an action plan. Here is a sample map that I created for a client (note, this one is very basic. Before sending this to the client for review I will be adding a number of details, elements, etc. But this should give you a basic idea):
As you can see, getting a visual flow together allows you to determine how much content you will need, which will hep you when determining where you will be sharing that content, and how you can get the most bang for your content buck. But, even more importantly, it allows you to ensure that all of your content is working together to achieve your ultimate goal.
What is your ultimate goal you ask? That is so important that I put together a worksheet to help you figure out your main objective! Yep, oh, and did I mention I am working on a workbook on that one as well?
Want the awesome Content Marketing Worksheet?
3. Start writing as broad as you can.
Now, before you start saying that this is counter to step one, let me explain. Your topic should be narrow. For instance, I am a digital marketing professional (very broad). I specialize in content marketing and brand development (getting more narrow). My current content marketing strategy revolves around content marketing understanding (narrow).
Now, as we start writing, we have to go from broad to micro-narrow. Remember that first blog about 10 things you should know about content marketing? Well, that was my introductory piece on the narrow topic as a whole. From there, I moved to the more narrow segments of my narrow topic (Like How to create a kicka** content marketing campaign). Make sense?
By starting with the broadest piece of content (for your narrow topic), you will be able to ensure that all of the micro-narrow or specific pieces make sense to your audience.
For instance, if you are a social media manager/ personal assistant and you have chosen social media optimization as your narrow topic for your content marketing strategy, you may start your writing with a blog called "Optimization: So what is it anyways?" and work your way down to specific social platforms and best practices.
Ultimately, you want each of your content elements to work together to draw your audience in. Not only creating brand loyalty, but also keeping your target engaged—leading to higher conversion and funnel retention.
4. Use supporting material where you are weak.
This is huge. Knowing where your weaknesses lie is a vital step in kicking a** through content marketing. Yes, content marketing requires writing. But it often also requires a bit of design, creativity, multimedia elements and—you guessed it—STRATEGY.
If any of the above are areas of weakness for you, you need to recognize it and determine the best way to overcome that weakness. My advice? Use each other.
I have said it before, and I am sure that I will say it again, but there is never a need to reinvent the wheel. We are all members of a digital ecosystem. Together we are working our consumers through our funnels, feeding ourselves and subsequently feeding each other. Some of the best resources that I recommend clients reference after our time together belong to my "competitors!"
I know that in order to have a strong content marketing strategy I need to have strong visual communications. I may dabble in design, but there are much stronger visual communicators around who are producing and sharing awesome content, so I send my audience to them!
Not only does that build a trusting relationship between me and my audience, but it also bridges the gap between me and my community of creatives.
5. Stick to the schedule.
Remember that awesome map we put together? Well, now it is time to use it to fill your calendar! Megan Martin had a pretty awesome blog about creating an editorial calendar over here. Not only is it important to know what type of content you are creating and how it works together, but you also need to be able to produce and share that content in a timely manner.
I know that blog vacays are all the rage these days, but a successful content marketing strategy requires diligence in the consistency of your posting, sharing and engaging.
A little bit of planning and love goes a long way in content marketing.
[If you don't believe me, check out Regina's Epic Planner (below) & let her tell you why planning can change the trajectory of your business.]
If you are struggling to produce the amount of content that you need to drive engagement, look for supporting materials (remember #4?!) and share those with your audience.
My general rule of thumb is to have 1 eBook, 5-6 blog posts, 3-4 infographics, 20+ social posts and 3 emails per content marketing strategy. Sometimes, if I am feeling feisty I through in a webinar or two as well.
You will want to schedule these out over a period of 30-60 days, with a sprinkling of additional content/ supporting materials as well. And don't forget! Share your content more than once! Each blog posts should be scheduled to push out through Twitter & Pinterest (at the very least) 5-8 times if you run your campaign for 60 days.
I usually try to share with a 2-1 ratio. For every two pieces of supporting content or new content I share, I share one piece of older content that fits into my strategy. You will be surprised how much engagement you will get by the 8th time! In fact, most recently I shared this post through buffer:
10 Re-Tweets—and that was the 4th time I shared it! (Remember each Tweet only has about a 15-minute lifespan, so odds are good that your whole audience will never have seen an individual post, you have a better chance of getting engagement when you share posts more than one!)
I do try to mix it up though, and never share the same post back to back with no buffer in between.
These basics are the foundation for a kicka** content marketing campaign. If you can manage to get these pieces together, you will be light-years ahead of most of your competitors + if you find yourself needing additional support, you will always know where to find me!
So, what step do you find you have the most trouble with? Let me know below!