With the advent of social media and all of the digital channels where we spend our time, we can get bombarded with marketing messages.
We also have an increasing amount of control over our interruptions. To earn eyeballs, we simply have to create better content (easier said than done, I’m well aware).
One of the ways we can do this is to implement a solid content marketing strategy. I’m going to walk you through the basics of content marketing and how you can create a strategy that’s right for your ideal audience.
What is Content Marketing?
Let’s take a quick step back and clarify what I mean when I talk about Content Marketing. Basically, it’s a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content. This content is created and distributed with the goal to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience – and ultimately, to drive leads, sales, and conversions.
What Content is Included in Content Marketing?
Getting to the nuts and bolts of it, content marketing can include blogs, videos, social media, podcasts, emails. All of these components should work together for a defined goal.
Choosing the right content for your business and your clients’ businesses is two-fold. One, it needs to align with the goals and objectives of the business so you can determine an ROI. Secondly, it needs to be something that is inherently shareable.
After all, we as marketers and business owners don’t really own the customer journey anymore. The customer does and they’re our best tool to move a conversation forward.
Making content that’s shareable doesn’t mean you’re striving to go viral either. Virality is hard, honestly, for anyone to manufacture. Instead, focus on creating high-quality content that answers your target audience’s problems, gives them steps towards a solution, or something they can emotionally connect and resonate with.
And most importantly – make sure that whatever you plan to do, you stick to a consistent publishing schedule.
When Creating Content, You Want to Ensure Its…
When you’re creating content for your ideal customer, target audience, etc, you have to think more about them and less about you. After all, this is the story of how your brand or client helps them, not about the brand itself.
Before you create any content, you want to ensure that you’re matching up the point of the piece with your target audience and their goals. Think about what they might be doing, thinking feeling, the pain points they have and the why behind their search.
A big thing here, too, is that you want to use your target audience’s language; not technical jargon they may not understand. This will help with your searchability, but also removes the barrier so they understand that you are in fact speaking to them.
Anything you create also has to be clear and easy to understand. Remember, they want your help, but they also don’t have your expertise. You’re not necessarily “dumbing down” your content, but you are keeping it simple so they can understand it no matter where they are.
You can always back up your content with third-party data (this can help build trust with your audience) and keep it updated when necessary. (I’m looking at you Google Analytics lessons that don’t cover the GA4 changes).
Creating Evergreen Content
You may have heard people talk more about evergreen content. It’s a bit of a technical term, but simply, it’s content that you create that continues to be relevant over a long period of time.
Some types of evergreen content are:
- A blog article
- Social media photoshoot
- YouTube videos
- Webinar recording
What happens when some of your content is no longer accurate? You can remove it, but I’d honestly recommend editing it with an Updated on This Date note instead.
The Difference Between B2B and B2C
I’ll argue all day long that because there’s a human on the other side of the screen consuming your content that there’s not a whole lot that’s different in your strategies. However, you’ll want to keep in mind that B2B tends to mean higher-ticket items. Those can mean longer lead times, require more education and need more touchpoints to break through. Overall, just because you’re B2B doesn’t mean that your target audience is hanging out only on LinkedIn though.
Creating a Content Marketing Strategy
As someone who’s been doing this a few different ways over the years, I’m going to tell you to learn from my mistake and always write down your content plan. Never wing it. You will forget something and you won’t think it all the way through.
Start with a month calendar (you can create a simple one by downloading a template from Calendarpedia and customizing it). With this, you’re going to lay out all the pieces of content you’re going to create.
I recommend having choosing a cornerstone piece of content once a week. By that I mean a blog post, a podcast episode, a Live video, YouTube video, email, or something a bit bigger. What you choose really depends on your audience. What kind of content do they want to consume? And whatever you choose, you need to be comfortable and able to fulfill.
When you’re choosing a main channel, select a channel that you have more control over. Do not make a social media channel your main content marketing source. After all, you have such little power over algorithms and what gets seen. And who knows? TikTok could disappear tomorrow (I mean, we did almost lose it a year ago…). Instead, focus on a platform that you can have more ownership of. A brand’s website is always the number one choice for this because it’s about the only piece of marketing we can truly own.
OK, so have you decided what you’re going to create? Let’s write down on your calendar what you’re going to focus on creating, i.e. a podcast.
Now, keep in mind that you need to make sure your content is entertaining, persuasive, educational, and always provides a call to action that allows them to convert. You don’t necessarily want to be salesy, but you don’t want to hide what you do and how you can help either.
Think through the main questions your audience comes to you with. Do some Google research if necessary to find the common problems and threads in those discussions. Get that calendar back out, and let’s write down four topics you can cover with your cornerstone content – once per week is optimal. You can publish your content on whichever day works best for the brand, though I personally wouldn’t choose say Friday at 4PM if you’re a B2B company. Think about your audience’s behaviors a bit to make that decision.
You’ll want to make sure all your content flows together, so make topics a progression of sorts. For instance, last week we talked about schemas and how that can help boost your SEO. This week, I’m teaching you how to create content that will utilize those schemas. See what I did there?
The fantastic thing about creating a cornerstone piece of content is that it’s super easy to repurpose and use in other areas of your content strategy.
For example, I write all my podcast episodes out as a blog (because I love to write) and then I record that podcast episode based on the blog itself (because I speak better when I’m working with a framework anyway). Then, I break that podcast episode up into a teaser video for social media and repurpose listicle items from past episodes in later social media posts. If I were better about utilizing my email list, I could send out a teaser email when an episode dropped, too.
Remember that most of your audience isn’t going to see everything you post and share, so repetition is not only OK, it’s great. Not everyone will follow you on all channels either, so resharing to different platforms just helps you get that message across.
Pro tip: You do want to ensure that however you’re repurposing content, you’re matching the type of content expected for the platform you’re publishing on. You’re not going to post a 10 minute video on Instagram or TikTok, for instance.
Content Doesn’t Have to Be Scary
What I often hear from others in the industry is that content marketing can be scary, overwhelming, or a lot. And yes, it certainly can. We often feel like we have to be everywhere. But you don’t have to be! Just where your audience is spending time and wants to engage with you.
Take that calendar back out. Now that you have your four cornerstone pieces, think through how you can repurpose and reuse that content across a variety of platforms and start filling in the gaps. Find third-party resources you can share in the other gaps. And put in some non-salesy, “Get to Know the Brand” type posts in the rest. Pretty soon, you’ll have an entire month filled in and you’re ready to batch and schedule!
See, easy peasy lemon squeezy. 😉