(+ a peek inside my content creation workflow)
Let’s talk about how to create a more effective content marketing strategy for your small business.
Content creation often feels like a huge time suck that frankly never seems to quite drive the results you’d hoped. So much of the content floating around out there is vaguely helpful at best or a giant sales pitch at it’s worst.
But recently, I’ve learned so much about effective content strategy that I’m kinda ~ dying ~ to share.
My goal is that you’ll walk away from today’s post with the skills to create content that is strategic, helpful, fun to read & maybe even a little quicker to create.
You’ll also get a good feel for:
– the difference between a content marketing strategy & editorial calendar
– the most important things your content marketing strategy should cover
– the type of content strategy your business needs right now
– how to create a solid content strategy framework + workflow
And if you’re looking for a little extra support – grab my list of 36 questions your content must answer. This is a behind the scenes peek into the filters I implement in my own business to make sure my content is showing up & serving well.
what is a content marketing strategy
For starters, if you’re feeling like your content strategy isn’t driving results, you probably don’t actually have a content marketing strategy.
I know, I know – you’ve put a lot of time into planning out what you’re going to be posting, to what platform, on what day. But I’d consider that more of an editorial calendar. Helpful, but not exactly full of needle moving strategy.
Simply put – a content marketing strategy is a system that works together to help you deliver the right content, to the right people, at the right time, for the right reasons. (Source)
A good content marketing strategy should go into a lot more detail than your ed cal. I like mine to cover:
– goals for the month/quarter/year
– brand messaging guidelines
– research based content brainstorms
– the planning & calendaring of those pieces of content
– an outline to help organize the information on the page
– my editing process
– when, where & how I plan to promote each piece.
If that sounds like a lot – it is.
Content management is pretty overwhelming, especially when you’re managing it all on your own.
And there is a lot of pressure for businesses with any online presence at all to be creating a ton of content all 👏 the 👏 time – but a super intense content schedule is a quick way to lead yourself & your followers to burnout.
Even leaders in content creation, like HubSpot have found that after a certain point, publishing more content doesn’t equal more traffic or better leads.
Melanie Seibert, content strategist for Rackspace, summed it up perfectly, “…content is very difficult to manage. It’s very unruly and it’s almost like a living thing. If you feel like you have to get it all perfect, you’re probably not going to … just set your expectations upfront to say, ‘I am going to do what I can, and that’s better than not doing any content strategy.'”
That tells me that it’s okay for content production to ebb & flow – especially if a lighter schedule helps you serve up the most helpful, high-quality information you can for your crew.
The most important notes your content marketing strategy should be hitting are:
…current business goals
…audience informational needs
…a way to organize all the information on the page
…a solid messaging strategy (more on this soon. But basically, know the language you need to use to best communicate to your audience).
Nail those touch points & your content will be poised to help you make more sales while you get to do a lot less selling. (<<< Melani Dizon said that & honestly, it hits the nail on the head. Drop a 🙋♀️in the comments if you’ve ever said you want to sell without feeling sales-y. ~me too~ 🙋♀️).
how to find the type of content strategy you need
Non-sales-y content starts with honing in on the type of content strategy you’ll need.
(Don’t freak, this isn’t as hard as it sounds!)
Figure out what you want your content to do…
…and then decide on the best way to deliver it.
If your audience consumed your content, what would it lead to?
Would they subscribe to your email list/YouTube channel? > Your content’s job is audience building.
Enroll in your course? Book your service? > Content needs to act as a primer to your offer.
Trust in you as THE go-to in your niche? > PR is the name of this content game.
NAIL THAT DELIVERY
Don’t stress too much about this, there is no one right way to deliver content.
Reports by Forbes show that websites with blogs have a better chance of getting on the first page of a Google search + blogging is a great way to build strong relationships (when it’s done well, that is). BUT Cisco reports that 80% of all internet traffic will come from video by 2021.
So start with where your your talents + energies overlap with your audiences informational needs.
Good on/behind the camera? > Focus on vlogging and video tutorials.
Research & words more your bag? > In-depth blog posts are where it’s at.
If the “creative” part of content creation is your hang up > try your hand at quick, to the point podcast episodes.
Once you figure out your main hero piece of content, brainstorm a few ways to re-purpose that content.
> Write up the high points of your videos & give them a designated place to live on your website.
> Record a reading of your blog post & upload it as a podcast.
> Stream your podcast recordings live.
Re-purposing helps your create more content in less time AND it meets people where they are – putting your work in front of more of the right people!
7 step content strategy framework
Alright y’all, this is where the rubber meets the road.
This is where we give your content a focused purpose.
Because content only works if it’s what your audience wants to hear.
We zeroed in on the results you want your content to drive. Now we need to figure out what mindset shifts your audience needs to have in order for them to take that action.
I usually start every brainstorm sesh with these 8 questions:
– What is your client/customer struggling with right now that has them looking for change?
– What does your client/customer need to understand before purchasing from you?
– What habits do they have or lies they believe that could hold them back from purchasing from you?
– What limiting beliefs are they trusting in?
– How can I ease their anxiety? What can I give them so they trust I can help them?
– What past work do they need to see from me to understand that I can help them?
– What questions am I asked ALL the time about this offer or service?
– What does your client/customer believe they are entitled to but haven’t gotten yet?
Once you have those answered, brain dump as many content ideas as you can think up. Browse news headlines & podcast titles for spin-off ideas. Mine old magazines for stories. The goal here is to come up with enough content ideas to pull from for at least an entire quarter.
Highlight 4 – 8 content ideas that are *really* going to change minds about what you do & move the needle in your business.
Circle 4 to 6 content ideas that maybe aren’t huge needle movers, but cover something that people ask a lot of questions about.
At this point, I like to give each idea it’s own card on Trello – that way I can look at what I have & organize it so that each piece is designed to build on top of each other.
Not every content idea will naturally lead to the next. When this happens, I just order my ideas by what my audience needs to understand before they move on to the next piece of content.
While you’re in Trello, go ahead & map out when, where & how you’ll drive to each piece of content. This means email newsletters, Pinterest pins, social media posts, etc.
Make sure to include a few pieces of “relational” content in there too. Things like testimonials, shout-outs, behind-the-scenes, quick tips & your day to day life.
Schedule time to create!
Set aside work time to create your content – if you don’t put it on the schedule, it’s probably never going to get done!
my content strategy workflow
Speaking of, I find having a pretty consistent workflow outlined before I sit down to write a piece of content helps me really stay focused when I’m creating.
My workflow starts with a basic blog outline
I fill in this outline with as much detail as I can so that by the time I get to the “mini-blogs” section, I know exactly how many sections I need & what they will be about. I always write the “meat” of my post before I write my intro – trust me, it’s so much easier that way.
Once I have my post written I’ll start writing my supporting pieces, like video notes, email newsletter, promo Instagram post and supporting tips & pieces of social media content that won’t directly drive to this piece.
The “trick” to creating bang-up content that makes waves in the life of your business & your audience is really to just take your time. There is so much pressure for online businesses to be creating constantly that it’s easy to lose sight of why you’re creating in the first place.
Take this post as your permission slip to stop the “have to” hustle & start creating quality information that your audience isn’t getting from anywhere else.
And if you need some bonus tips on top pf everything I covered here, grab the freebie guide to 36 questions your content must answer. It will walk you through everything that needs to play out in your content so that when it comes time to sell, your audience is primed & ready to take action!
Till next time –