You hear the term 'content is king' a lot. But what does it mean?
If content marketing is the way to drive more leads and more business, what does that look like for me daily?
What exact steps do I need to take to execute a winning content marketing strategy for my business?
Want to know the answers? Read on my friend...
A long time ago, when the internet was still a baby, I remember setting up a brand new website using an old eCommerce script called Zencart.
I registered the domain name, and as I was installing the eComm software, ping. New customer registered.
I thought nothing of it. Then a few minutes later, ping. Another new customer placed an order.
I was gob smacked.
The website was only half built, and within literally minutes, ping, people were putting things in baskets and checking out.
I couldn't believe it.
No SEO, no AdWords, no blogging, no lead magnets, no social media, nothing.
In those historic days, the big retailers still had static informational sites and hadn't embraced the transactional potential of the internet.
Fast forward seventeen years and the landscape has changed a lot.
Big retailers and big brands dominate now, and small retailers are jostling for position in crowded marketplaces.
Years ago being online felt like being the first person on the beach, pick your spot, lay back and enjoy the sun.
Nowadays it's like being in a nightmare. Same beach, but people everywhere, standing room only, shoulder to shoulder.
And to add to that, now it's f#$@ing cloudy.
So what's the answer?
Content marketing is the marketing equivalent in the beach analogy of owning your own private cove with a magnificent beach.
Just imagine a place where you can sit back, relax, and soak up as much sun as you like.
Be warned, there is a lot more to it than just producing great content. I will show you exactly how to do it...
Now grab a pen and paper and let's get you to your own private beach.
First things first, get clarity on your target audience. Write about exactly who they are.
Your audience will largely dictate the type of content that you create and the way you communicate.
What do they like? What do they dislike? What keeps them awake at night?
Next, what would they find interesting around what you do?
Write this down.
Start making a list of topics you could create content on around what you do.
Think about the process, the journey a client takes from first getting to know you, to experience your product or service, and write a list of these steps.
What are the questions you get asked repeatedly? Write these on your list too.
So now you should know who your target customer is and a list of possible content pieces written.
But first, let's get strategic for a moment.
What do you want your content marketing to achieve?
I know, I know, leads and sales, right?
We need to get more specific.
Break it down. Look at the number of leads you are getting every month through your website, for example.
How many leads would you like to attain three months from now? Twelve months from now? Put a number on it so you can measure it later.
How many people are visiting your website each day, each week, each month right now?
Set yourself a goal to increase this by a percentage, or a certain number of visitors, something that makes sense for your business.
How many of those visitors are coming through social media channels?
Set a goal for increasing this percentage.
Hint - Google Analytics will tell you all of this information for free. If you haven't got Google Analytics on your website. Make sure you get it, it's easy to set up.
Once you have a handle on your objectives, we then need to think about the customer journey again.
What do you want customers to do AFTER they have consumed your content?
This is where you need to revisit your list of potential content topics and add to each one, something I like to call 'Ascension'.
Ascension is thinking about the so what next? The next steps after they have consumed your content. How are you going to entice them further along the path towards becoming a customer?
This is a piece that most people disregard. And yet it is the game-changer. Content for content's sake rarely works without this piece in place.
Let me illustrate, you are reading an article here, so you can understand the steps involved in creating a winning content marketing strategy for your business that you can put into action.
At the end of the article, my 'ascension' for you will be to offer you a content upgrade to a carefully crafted checklist designed to fast track you to success, save you precious time and improve your content marketing prowess.
My next steps for you would be to give me your email address for this free 'content upgrade'. You will then receive more helpful content by email that is not available anywhere else and we can get to know each other a little better.
My mission is to help and inspire as many people as possible to take action and create their own private beach. Some will want paid help from me, and that's great. Most won't. And that's great too.
Can you see how this blog post now fits into an overall content marketing strategy for my business?
And that it is not just the content that is important. The ascension piece is vital for your content efforts to drive sales.
What might that look like for your business?
Write the ascension, next steps, or content upgrade for each of the topics on your list. Even if it is the same for each one.
If you have completed the steps so far you should now have clarity on your target audience, your brain should be ticking away thinking about the things people ask you most about, have fixed objectives for what your content marketing should achieve, and also have a starting list of content ideas.
Great work. You're almost there.
Now let's talk about types of content. The obvious and most common is blog articles. These are my favorite because they sit on your website.
You own them. You control all the variables.
Here are just a handful of additional ideas for types of content that you could experiment with to get you started. The possibilities are infinite:
- Blog articles
- Videos - Live and recorded. Don't think big production. Point your smartphone towards your face and press record.
- Case studies and success stories
- How to article/video
- Behind the scenes video/photos
- Guest posting on other people's blogs
- Social media
- Glossary of jargon
- Tips and guides
Now your head should be swimming with ideas and possibilities.
Write more ideas on your list. Remember, the next steps for each one are just as important as the topic idea itself.
Before you rush off to get creating, I want to share something that is also hugely important.
Frequency and consistency.
How many times should you release content?
The answer to this...
Produce as much content as you can commit to, consistently.
Don't get all gung-ho and say, man, I will write an article every day, and tweet seventeen times a day. Then after a week, give up.
Set yourself a realistic goal. One blog post per week. Five tweets per day. One value-driven email to your email list per week.
Something you can keep up.
I'll let you in on a marketing secret. Come closer. The marketing gurus may order a hit on me for telling you this, so tell no one...
If you produce content consistently and share it everywhere, you will get more traffic, more leads and more sales.
If you don't execute consistently, you will fail.
The key, consistent action.
Set the bar low to start with so you don't fail and give up.
How many content ideas are on your list?
Even if there are only four or five If you commit to one blog post each week, you already have one month's worth of content right there.
Keep your list handy and add to it regularly.
Once your mind is attuned to spotting ideas, they will come when you least expect it.
I drive my wife mad, mid-conversation at the dinner table with "hold on, let me just go write something down" as I reach for my bullet journal.
Or creating a note in Evernote on my mobile while pushing the trolley around the supermarket.
Another productivity habit I use and suggest is to block time for content creation. If you are committing to one blog post per week, you could batch two or three articles in one morning.
Three weeks worth of content in one go. Boom.
Then the rest of the allocated time can be spent promoting the shit out of the content you have made. That's my approach.
Simple. Review your newly generated content marketing strategy, create a list of content to populate your eco-system, create consistently and start serving up value to your audience with what you do.
You can do this.