The Confident Marketer Playbook: Step 7
Creating a content strategy is a major aspect of every marketer's job. New content is put online all the time, whether it is videos, blog articles, press releases, social media posts, whitepapers, or newsletters. Our world is overloaded with content. Check out these astonishing statistics:
- 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created every day.
- There are about 1.98 billion websites in existence right now.
- Over 500 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.
- Around 7 million blog posts get published each day.
With that in mind, the last thing your customers need is more crap to sort through. So what are you going to do? You could shrug and create more and more content about your products, hoping some of it gets seen or heard amid the general "content noise." Or, you can create your content strategy with information that actually matters.
Today's Content Strategy Challenges
With so much information out there, buyers have to wade through the junk to find something that they actually want to purchase and use. In many cases, they will become overwhelmed and give up, which means almost every piece of content that is presented to them is ignored.
It's your challenge to give your customers content they do not want to ignore.
Unfortunately, most marketers create content without understanding its purpose in the sales cycle or buying journey. They don't have a plan in place. That means they are usually reacting to internal requests from the sales team. This is neither stable nor effective.
Many marketers mistakenly believe that the more people they reach, the more sales they will get. They fall into the "more is better" trap. It may feel good to get something published. However, quality matters. Another way of looking at it is, you want to reach the right customers, not more customers. To reach the right customers, you have to focus on that one specific audience that values what your product or service has to offer.
Did you have a commitment to produce more content? It's time to change that commitment. Instead, commit to producing products that are meaningful and valuable to someone specific. Then, create a content strategy that targets your unique audience.
Why You Need a Content Strategy
Developing and then sticking to a strategic content plan helps you develop a voice that will be heard by your specific audience. It prevents you from publishing bad content that will get overlooked.
If you are not the sole creator of content for your organization, then you need to work together with the others to decide what sub-par content looks like and what good quality content looks like. Your content plan should help you accomplish your goals. That means it will help you sell more of your product or services to people who find them valuable.
To get the best outcomes, make your content all about your customers and make it as relevant for them as possible. High-quality content needs to be planned out with a specific strategy in mind. Otherwise, you're just shooting in the wind. Document your plan, and outline exactly to whom you are trying to reach, what you hope to achieve, and how you will get there.
Steps To Create a Strategic Content Plan
Your content should serve a specific purpose along the buyer's journey. The following steps help you create a plan for making quality content that gets seen and results in buyer confidence and more sales.
1. Use a Framework
Our Confident Marketer Playbook provides a roadmap for content creation. The content framework is structured around four different questions buyers have that your marketing strategy strives to answer:
I have a problem, so am I going to fix it? It is your goal to make your audience aware of a problem they have and let them know what could happen if they don't do anything to resolve the problem.
How am I going to solve my problem? Your marketing material should paint a picture of a good solution for their problem, including key features of your product.
Where am I going to buy from? You should present your company in a positive manner, showing your buyers how it can solve their problems.
Did I make the right choice? Go the extra step to help your buyer know they made a great decision by purchasing your product. This type of marketing is more along the lines of continuing education.
I also give you ideas on what types of content work well for each aspect of the framework. For example, infographics and industry webinars are great ways to help your customers become aware of a problem they need to fix. A buying guide helps educate the customer about how your product solves their problem. Product demos or comparison guides give your customers more interaction with your company, so they feel like your company is the best choice among the competition. A video tutorial that comes with the product is a great way to let your customer know that they made a good choice in buying the product from your company because now they can get more value out of the product.
2. Identify Where You Have Content Gaps
One of the biggest weaknesses of marketers is not knowing what they are doing wrong. It can be difficult to look at your own work and see where you have failed. Part of you sees all the work you did to create that content, and you won't want to get rid of it, even if it's not helpful to your overall content strategy.
To help you figure out what content you should keep, what you should kill, and what needs to be created, plan on doing an annual audit of your content. What does a content audit look like?
Put yourself in your buyers' shoes. Take a look at your content and ask these questions:
- Do I feel more informed?
- Am I smarter now?
- Do I want to know more about this company, product, or service?
- Am I curious about anything I heard or read?
These questions are all based on how your prospective buyer feels, not on what you are doing to sell the product. If your buyer believes that your content is valuable, sales will follow. Helpful information makes people much more likely to purchase.
Identifying content gaps can also be accomplished in more measurable ways. For instance, you can measure customer engagement and how your content contributes to the buying process. Gathering feedback from your customers and sales team can also be extremely helpful. Ask yourself if the time, budget, and resources you're spending generate the returns you're looking for. If they are not, then you need to change your content plan.
3. Learn What Works and What Doesn't for Your Audience
It may be tempting to copy your competitors, but you need to do your own research. To stand out in the sea of sameness, you need a distinct point of view and a unique tone of voice.
Your distinct point of view should be aimed at one specific audience. If you don't have a specific person you are talking or writing to, then you are speaking to nobody. If you have multiple products that have different buyers, you will need to have different content for each one. Generic content that works for all your buyers will get lost in the crowd.
Try to figure out what your audience cares about. Check out this guide for content inspiration, and keep an inspiration file of your own.
Remember that you want to make a difference in your customers' lives.
4. Evaluate the Progress of Your Content Strategy
Marketing takes time to gain momentum, so you don't want to stop something before it has a chance to come to fruition. On the other hand, you need to know when to pull the plug. Have a formal process to review what's working and what's not.
While you are evaluating, remember that having more followers does not necessarily mean you have more buyers. You could have lots of sales, but do you have more profit? A close evaluation of your content and the results of your content should show you when you are producing something that is valuable to your customers and when you have become part of the general "content noise."
What's the Next Step?
You have studied the content framework, identified places where you need to create more content and places where you have too much content, analyzed your specific audience, and are always evaluating the progress of your overall marketing plan. Great job! You are becoming a confident marketer who cares about meeting the needs of a specific audience and generating relevant content material that is actually helpful and not something that gets passed over.
The next step in the Confident Marketer's Playbook is "Building an Army of Marketers." I will teach you how to identify who and what you need on your journey to becoming the most effective marketer you can be!
Complete the Confident Marketer Scorecard to see how your marketing strategies score. It's free and is designed to give you instant feedback that will help you in the real world.
← Read Step 6: Create a Value Proposition that Matters to Your Customers