Since restarting my blog in January, I’ve been so busy with my fiction, and onboarding new clients that I kind of dropped the ball on educating my audience, which has always been the cornerstone of my writing blog efforts. So, with that in mind, I’ve launched this series on Content Marketing to help you understand what it is, why you need it and what you can do about it.
I know a lot of this will be remedial for some of you, but it never hurts to check in on the basics. For those who’ve never engaged in content marketing, or didn’t know that’s what you were doing, this may be revelation.
The starting line
It’s surprising how often the same questions get asked of guys like me, here’s one, “What would it take for me to launch a content marketing plan?” After boiling it down, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are really on two essential ingredients to get started.
· You need to understand what you want to get out of it.
· You need to cook this down to its essence and come up with a mission statement
Both of these are foundational. For one, they help you determine what kind of content you need to create. Secondly, they help you get a bird’s eye view of your content marketing in relation to your entire business, so that you can determine the things you should not do.
Alright, let’s unpack each of these a bit more.
Examining business goals
Don’t ever just crank out content because you can, or because it’s cool, or because someone else did it. It needs to be integrated with your overall direction in business. Specifically, it needs to be tied to one or more goals within your overall marketing scheme. So, when considering a type, or piece of content, think of what it does to support those goals.
- · List building
- · Converting leads into customers
- · Customer retention
- · Brand awareness and authority
- · Upsell existing users
- · Looking to create new brand evangelists
Asking questions is a great way to keep on track. Here’s one, “Which of my business goals does this content work towards, and how?” Set your priorities on content that supports your goals, over content just because.
Writing an actionable mission statement
This, from Joe Pulizzi, author of Epic Content Marketing, your business needs a reason to exist and that, boiled down, should be your mission statement. In addition, it should carry your company principles in its DNA. When developing a mission statement for marketing, include these:
- · Target your ideal audience: who is going to be reached? Whose life can you improve most with your content?
- · Define the deliverables: you need to know what kind of data you want to transmit to your audience.
- · Build the ultimate outcome: are you teaching? What would you like your audience to be ready to do once they engage with your marketing?
PRO TIP: No, not everyone is your audience. Even if you honestly believe you sell something that everyone wants. If you aim your content at everyone, you will likely appeal to no one. Narrow this down, then narrow it down an even smaller part of your first target, and even more specific if you can. Decide on one person you want to speak to and tailor the content to people like them.
You’ll likely need to tailor content to a variety of audiences. That’s okay, define your groups and serve up what they will be most likely to engage with. The more targeted, the better. This is how you cut through the clutter and make a direct connection with all of the noise online.
If you have a solid grip on your analytics, going to your SEO data is a great way to profile the ideal consumer of your content. They are the ones that are finding your website, coming back and spending extra time there.
Here’s how I did it:
I’ve been going back to the basics, trying to serve up what my ideal customer needs. So, I went back through my client list over the past year and I thought it might help to show you what I personally came up with.
My main aim for my clients is to help them build authority in their niche, through excellent content, shared in the right way, at the appropriate time.
Our key goal is to build our email list, as it’s the backbone of everything else we do (such as our live events, our online training program, etc.).
So, here is my Mission Statement as a freelance writer/ content marketing consultant:
I am leading my industry through educating my clients in the best practices of content marketing, on a scale that is meaningful for their individual businesses. I work to develop content for each client based on their ideal customer, the goals of their business and the current trends in content marketing.
So, when I consider a new piece of content, I just ask myself a few questions:
- Will this build a better understanding of content marketing for my clients?
- Is it useful to readers, even those who are not looking to hire writing done?
- Will this content help me build a list of potential clients and encourage sharing to further build the authority and audience for my brand?
I know that not every blog post I write is going to hit a home run, but I need to make sure that the bulk of my content is aimed towards these goals. My mission is the central theme of what I do and if I am spending time creating things that don’t support that, I need to reconsider. I also make sharing these goals with my clients a priority, so that they understand what my goal is, and they are better able to communicate how that fits within the framework of what they are building.