I am thinking of three probable reasons why you started reading this blog post.
Firstly, you are stuck at creating content. You ran out of ideas.
Secondly, you are creating content that are ignored by the audience
Finally, you are creating content that do not get results.
Let me elaborate on the last one.
Results mean getting people to join your email list, bringing people to your website, getting your business mentioned by influencers, and getting people to buy from you.
Content that do not produce results have no business in your business.
You’re not here in this world to produce Cat Memes and Father’s Day Quotes, unless of course these are relevant to your business. These content could even go viral, but are highly unlikely to bring you results.
I am here today to help you craft your content strategy, which covers all three possible reasons mentioned in the beginning.
Content Strategy: The powerhouse that delivers potent content every time
I hope you now understand that creating and promoting your content blindly is not going to help you. You need content that are useful enough for the audience, and potent enough to bring you the desired business results.
You, my friend, need to dig a well (of content) deep enough in a sweet spot near your audience. So that it never runs dry and the water (content) is always fresh and sweet. That’s how people who seek water will always come to you!
That’s how I define Content Strategy.
Because it is not about writing one blog post or about creating one YouTube video. Content Strategy about building a system that will keep producing irresistible content that bring business results.
Now that you understand content strategy, name it the way you want. A framework, a powerhouse, an engine, whichever suits you.
Your content strategy covers 6 areas
- Audience Insight
Let us now get into the real thing one by one.
Will they ever like it?
This could be your biggest concern about your content. Because deep inside your heart, you somehow know that if the audience doesn’t like your content, all is lost.The customers decide what shall be cherished today, or be perished tomorrow Click To Tweet
Tony Robbins has an e3 formula for creating content that pass the audience test. According to him, people like content that educate them, empower them, or entertain them.
You should include his formula in your content strategy, but don’t just say Eureka yet!
You need to UNDERSTAND your audience first. Then you’ll know what educates, empowers, and entertains your audience. Not convinced yet? Listen to Steve Jobs!
See how easily you can understand your audience
Start by asking simple questions such as:
- Who are my customers (Example – Working moms in metropolitan)
- What are their demographic characteristics (age, gender, location, occupation, family)
- What are their psychographic characteristics (Personality, Interests, and Lifestyle)
Developing a crystal clear idea about your customer identity helps you identify their needs (remember the e3 from Tony Robbins).
You can now ask questions such as:
- What problems are my customers facing (That triggers them to buy products/services)?
- What knowledge do my customers need (along with the products) to really solve the problem?
There are numerous ways of finding out answers to these questions. You can interview customers, browse forums specific to your topic, stalk your ideal customer profiles via social media, even connect and build relationships with them.
Your Brand Purpose
You’ll be halfway through creating potent content when you know the reason why you’re creating content.
With a clear and higher purpose, you’ll never run out of content ideas, and you’ll always create content that matter to your audience, and you’ll always bring results through your content.
Yes, of course, there are challenges that lie ahead (in the remaining half), but when you have found your true purpose, you’ll sure go all the way.I believe I am here for a reason, and my purpose is greater than my challenges - @jongordon11 Click To Tweet
The purpose of your content strategy is the same purpose that your business has. Finding and embracing the business purpose is also they key to building a brand that you can be proud of.
Kevin Lawrence is an international consultant who coaches CEOs and Business leaders. In a two-part article, he showed how to identify the brand purpose, vision, and promise.
“Your purpose is the lifeblood of the organization; it is what motivates employees, attracts customers and keeps your team focused on achieving success” – Kevin Lawrence of Coach Kevin
Kevin shows three possible routes to find out your business purposes.
Why did you start this business in the first place?
Neither it is about making money, nor it is about what your business does!
Your business could be repairing bicycles, but that’s not your business purpose. You, my friend, have a higher purpose that you may not know of!
Do you repair sports bikes? In that case, you’re actually helping the cyclist to win or enjoy the sports.
That looks like your purpose. Defining a higher purpose like this helps you identify relevant content topics that would educate, empower, and entertain your audience.
What knowledge does the cyclist need to win? What Tools or Tricks will give them more control? What cycling moments and memories will make them smile, laugh, or cry?
You now have started digging the well of content! A well that never runs dry!!
What is your passion and how are you making a difference for your customers?
Think of the time when you were considering to start your business. What gave you confidence? Was there a lack of competing businesses or the businesses that exist were kind of lackluster?
There must have been something in your mind saying Yes! I can do it better.
Perhaps you make ratatouille taste so good that it reminds people of their childhood!
Voila! Your purpose is here.
What is the legacy you want this business to leave behind?
I hate philosophy most of the times, maybe you do too. But this one my friend, is essential.
The answer lies in the middle of the above two questions. If you know the reason why you started the business and the difference that you make, you can easily find out your legacy.
Ask yourself, what will the world (the people your business serve) miss if your business isn’t there anymore?
Your Content Topics
The job of digging your well of content is going well!
You now know what do you do (purpose) and for whom (the audience). Let us find out how you can use this knowledge to find out content topics that are helpful for your audience and fruitful for your business.
Let us assume that you own a bicycle repair shop targeting mountain bikers. So your content topics could be as follows:
Biking Skills Tutorial
Example – how to back flip a bike
Example – these 3 apps will make you a smarter biker!
Example – how to check the wheels for alignment
Example – 5 treacherous turns in ‘route name’
Example – Little known facts about ‘route name’
Example – the secrets to staying fit during off-season
Example – 5 things to avoid the day before you bike!
The list can keep going, but I have to stop since I know nothing about mountain biking!
If I can identify purpose and audience and few of the topics without any knowledge of mountain biking, imagine what you (knowing everything) can do for your business.
The secret to creating a good list of content topics is to let your mind go blank first. Then ask yourself,
What do I need to teach my audience to achieve my purpose?
Nobody likes a copycat. But, more often than not, you’ll be creating content on subjects which already has been discussed. The secret to making your content sound unique is to say things your way for your audience.
Consider these two examples.
Gentlemen VS Dude
Parents VS Folks
The words you choose differentiates you from others and lets you speak to your audience. Moreover, you should add your own life experience to every content you create. That way, you’ll never sound like a copycat.
Here’s what Marie Forleo says on this topic
Your Content Structure(s)
You probably are working alone now. That’s what most startup entrepreneurs do. And it is not likely that one person is equally skilled in writing, visual graphics, presentation, speaking, etc.
But, don’t you worry about it. The structure of the content has nothing to do with the quality of your content. So use the structure you’re most comfortable with, and select social media channels that are most appropriate for your content structure.
As said, a content can be presented in different structures –
- Blog Posts (600 – 800 words for consumers, 1200-2000 words for B2B)
- Ebooks (2000 – 4000 words)
- Video & Podcasts (5 minutes to 30 minutes)
- Infographics (800 Px wide, 2000 Px high)
Additionally, you can create bite-sized content (for social media) to make a point
- Photo Posts (Quick tips)
- Short Video (6 seconds if you use Vine)
- Status Updates (140 characters if you use twitter)
We’re almost at the final leg of digging your well of content. There are just two things to decide now.
Who will create and publish content? [Content Responsibility]
What is the frequency & schedule for content [Content Calender]
Don’t panic if you never have created content for your business. You sure have created content for other purposes throughout your life. You just did not realize that those were great content!
Almost anyone can create content.
Here is the list of your skills that are waiting to help you:
Maybe that you’re good at writing? Create blog posts. Avoid writing in bookish language, be informal
Maybe that you’re good at Visual Design? Create Infographics.
Maybe that you have very good presentation skills? Voila! Create slider shares or turn your presentation into a video by using Microsoft Power Point.
Perhaps you are good at speaking? You can become a great podcaster or a YouTuber. And the most fun part, you sure can write the way you talk!
With skills discovered and developed during your school and college days, you can start creating content that will drive your business.
You can further refine and upgrade your skills by practicing and training. And there are lots of tools that make your job easier.
You’re your own boss. But that is problematic sometimes, especially if you’re like me (not very organized).
To be successful in content marketing, you’ll need to produce potent content consistently. When you create a content calendar and make yourself answerable to it, you will be able to stay on track.
You can create a content calendar in three simple steps
First you’ll need to decide on the frequency; how many blog posts or youtube video per month, which days of the week should you publish etc.
Which content or topics are relevant to which season etc. Because, you can’t promote winter fashion tips on summer!
List your ideas:
Brainstorm on each of your content topics and note down ideas. Then you can put this ideas into content calendar according to frequency and business cycle.
When you’ve engaged yourself into content creation, ideas can come to you even when you’re not brainstorming. To capture all ideas on the go, I use evernote. You can use it too, it is very helpful.
A lot of people (including me) use Google Calender as their content calendar. I mark unfinished content in red, and complete ones in green. This way I know what do I have to do next.
Every content marketer, new or old, rookie or veteran, wants the same thing. They want to keep producing content that are helpful for the audience, and fruitful for the business.
And today you’ve got yourself covered. By understanding your audience, you can tell what content are helpful for them. And by uncovering and embracing your purpose, you can always tell if a piece of content will bring you any results or not.
Most importantly, you’ve learned how to say things your way, now your content will always be unique for your audience.
Knowledge becomes junk if it is not used. So please, if you truly want to build your brand through content marketing, craft and document your content strategy.
Write down about your audience, purpose, topics, structure, voice, and responsibilities on paper or on a word document. This will help you in your business for years to come.
So tell me, how and when are you going to craft your content strategy; the well that never runs dry?