Content marketing is a strategy that, simply put, leads people to free content that solves a specific problem and leads them down a sales funnel to accomplish a specific objective. In other words, give away free knowledge in hopes your awesome audience will buy what you are selling!
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It’s not really about the money, but you do need to make money to be a successful business so getting strategic about the content you are giving away for free is a great plan to have in place when developing new blog posts, podcasts, or videos.
1 | Figure Out Your Objective
First things first, define the objective. This is the first question you want to ask yourself before you start creating any piece of content or marketing material. Your objective needs to be very specific, such as “I want to send people to “www.landingpagefreebie.com” and convert 500 people on this page.” Where do you want to send people? What’s your goal?
I understand sometimes we just want to jump in and start creating all this fantastic content and can’t wait to just boost it out. I have been guilty of this “rush in” mentality just because I get so excited and don’t want to stop and think all of it out logically. But once I started mapping out my objectives with a content marketing strategy I wanted to put in place, I had GOALS. I had a plan. I had a purpose and the content ideas as well as the marketing materials were a million times easier to create because of this. So in the long run, it saved me time as well.
An objective like “more sales” is not what we are going for during this step, make sure your objective can be measured during the end of the campaign.
Some examples of objectives that other marketers center their content marketing strategies around are: more people becoming aware of their brand, loyalty programs (creating or growing), upsetting to existing customers, and lead generation. There are obviously a LOT more possibilities for an objective and it may be tempting to do multiple objectives at once (the “knock out two birds with one stone” doesn’t work so well right now) but just start with one and create your first content marketing campaign, then you can test out other objectives later on once you have your first one mastered!
2 | Map out Actionable Steps
You’ve defined your objective, which is fantastic! It’s time to figure out how to make that objective happen.
Have you ever used a mind map? If not check out http://mindmeister.com/ (it’s free). Create a simple mind map, whether it be digital or on a piece of paper you have beside you, of each step your audience has to take to achieve your goal. You’ll be mapping out the whole process of how you are going to lead them, in a lovingly way, toward meeting that objective you decided on in step one.
Let’s say my objective was selling at least 50 new seats to an online workshop I created, an example of a mind map for that would be leading them to a blog post > opt-in page > giving email address > sending a follow-up email series that leads into a product pitch for the workshop.
This part in the step by step process also helps make it easier to create copy because you’ll know where your audience is at each “content point” so you’ll know how to talk to them to get them to move on to the next dot on your map. This is the part where you can get really creative with how you want to achieve the objective you chose. It’s always fun to think outside the box and get creative!
3 | Define Your Target Audience
Create a persona. Instead of thinking about it as your “target audience,” think of only one person and what kind of characteristics, income, family life, etc is associated with this person. Make this person have a name! For example, if you are someone who owns a boutique a persona of someone from your target audience may look like: Paige, a 24-year-old recent graduate who got a full-time job. She’s obsessed with getting a good deal and loves fashion. Obviously that was only one sentence and a better quality version of a boutique’s target audience would be well over a paragraph. But you see how I gave her target audience the name Paige? It’s amazing what a name can do when creating a persona.
What does your target audience need to know that will convince them to meet your goal or objective? Which social media platforms are they on the most so your content will get out in front of them? Are there any pain points you can focus on solving while creating this content?
Before you write one word, make sure you write out your target audiences persona. Pick a name, choose all the details, and get specific. If you write incredible content but don’t have that content aimed for the right person or group of people, all that work that you put into creating isn’t as effective.
4 | Brain Dump Content Ideas
Everything that comes to your mind, write it down or type it out. Just brain dump every single thought no matter how ridiculous it may be.
I would suggest making a list of 20 possible content ideas that way you can filter out all the ones that aren’t as strong and get the top 4-5 ideas on your “ready to go” list to start creating.
5 | Create the Content
Ok, finally.. Right? It took us a bit to get to this step in the process of creating the strategy. But building the foundation before we get to this point is so important! You now have an objective, a map for how your target audience can reach that objective, and a detailed list or paragraph describing the persona of your ideal customer or client.
You can take one topic off of your brainstorm list and repurpose that into not only a blog post, but a podcast, YouTube video series, etc. So those few topics you choose to create content around can morph itself into different forms as well which means way less work on you!
Make sure the creation aspect of your content marketing strategy is scheduled out in your planner or whatever you use to organize your business. If it’s not scheduled, it is even harder to get it completed!
6 | Get Your Content Out There
Now this is the time to get your content out there in front of your target audience (that we defined clearly in step three) You can choose to go the organic route and paid route, or just stick to the organic traffic route.
Make sure that your content includes great photography, SEO, click to tweets, a pinnable image, and share icons! Include the “next step” on your map that we created in step two and let your audience know how to achieve that action. For example, going back to the mind map I placed in this post, after reading the blog post the next step on the map was leading them to the opt-in landing page. So you will make sure to have several buttons within your blog post that will lead them to that URL that opens up the opt-in landing page. Once there, they will keep moving down your sales funnel.
If you would like to go the paid advertising route you can get your content out there using Facebook ads, Instagram ads, promoted pins, or Google ads. There are so many options!
7 | Analyze Results + Engagement
So now we are going to go all the way back to the beginning and focus on that objective you picked out in the first step. Write down that objective really big on a piece of paper (or title an Evernote with the objective) and start the evaluation.
It’s always good to go back and analyze your results because you can figure out what worked the best with your audience and possibly some mistakes that were made or just some instances that need to be changed for the next go around. Always be willing to take a few minutes to analyze a process that you completed so you can make it even better and more effective in the future.
Content marketing can be quite a bit of work, but the value you are giving to your potential customer not only increases their trust toward your brand but increases the chance they will buy your product or service that you work so hard on.