Every business has a brand – and how your brand is perceived is no longer solely based around things like your packaging, advertising or product design.
Today, your brand value is significantly impacted by how you tell your brand story, across all your customer touch points.
…and publishing no content also tells its own story.
Telling your brand story is an integral part of your brand strategy, and will require more of a long-term view.
However, fate rewards the brave. The time and effort taken to build your website’s content, and therefore your SEO presence, will generate traffic that will enable you to build a sustainable business brand.
Having a content marketing strategy helps you build trust with your target audience, so they build a relationship with you as a reliable source of value in their world.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is a customer-acquisition strategy focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience—and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. – Brian Halligan, HubSpot cofounder
…and here’s our short and sweet content marketing definition:
Creating and publishing useful content to acquire more traffic, get more leads and turn those leads into customers.
Content marketing is all about building trust and engagement. It’s about using blogs, guides, socials, email, video, infographics (and more) to provide value and insights for your target audience.
Have no clue what your brand story is? Or have no idea where to start with your content marketing strategy? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!
Here are 4 sure and steady steps to help you draft a winning content marketing plan.
1. Identify your target audience
We bang on about this quite a bit, but that’s because it’s important!
Spending time and resources on any marketing campaign without knowing precisely who you are targeting, will lead to frustration and poor ROI.
Taking time to identify your target audience and create ideal client personas, is time well spent – as it will guide all your content creation activities.
A persona is a fictional character that represents the people you’re trying to reach. Your client personas will help you identify and attract your ideal customers.
There will be a number of things you can do to identify your target audience, but it fundamentally comes down to asking yourself these three questions:
- What does my ideal client look like (role, goals, habits)?
- What are their needs (their pain points)?
- How can you help them (resolve their challenges)?
Once you have formed a deep understanding of your ideal client, you are ready to create a content plan that will resonate with your audience.
You will also know which messaging channels and social media platforms will be best to reach the audience you’ve identified.
You’re also ready to research and carry out your SEO plan. This is a whole new article, but by basing your content plan around your brand awareness SEO goals from the start, will be key to your success.
2. Be creative, be engaging
Okay, now you know who you are creating content for, you can start preparing what you want to say, how you want to say it, and where you will publish it.
Do your research – including competitor analysis. Find out which topics are creating buzz, then brainstorm how you can put your slant on it. And while you’re brainstorming, consider sub-topics you can address too (a mind map can help here).
Remember to stay on brand, adopt a friendly and welcoming tone, so your readers feel comfortable engaging with you.
The content formats you can use are many and varied. Here are a few of the most common formats:
- Blog posts
- Social media posts and updates
- Video (including live-streaming)
- Email campaigns
- eBooks, guides and reports
- Case studies
- White papers
Is that enough to get your creative juices flowing?
Next top tip: Be helpful. Educate and inspire.
Don’t make your content all about the sale. That doesn’t mean to say you don’t run promotions, but don’t try to batter your audience into submission.
Instead, share insightful, informative and helpful content pieces which address their pain points. This will be more likely to resonate with them and will demonstrate your expertise.
Be a storyteller. We all love stories, right? It’s a sure way of making that emotional connection. You have a story to tell, so tell it! It will enable you to connect with your customers in a meaningful way.
3. Getting all your content ducks in a row
Regularly publishing different forms of content across the various media channels fast becomes a complex task (ducks everywhere!).
To help stay organised, you will need to work to a content calendar – which pretty much does what it says on the tin. Your content calendar will enable you to establish a content creation workflow, to coordinate:
- Content priorities
- Planning a schedule
- Key contributors (strategist, writer, designer, scheduler)
You can use pen and paper, a spreadsheet, a calendar app, or a purpose built content calendar platform to keep your team organised.
Seeing your content plan spread across your calendar will help you think about your publishing frequency, timing and brand voice.
All of which should align with your content goals and target audience’s online habits.
Once you’re up and running, you can stay organised by storing all your content assets in one place. This will help you avoid wasting time and effort while improving your results.
4. Did someone say results?
Okay, so we’re on to the boring part; measuring your results. Not everyone is a numbers person, but half the battle with using analytics is defining your metrics from the get-go.
Your content goals will determine what metrics you need to measure your success, and identify where adjustments are needed.
As mentioned, SEO is key to getting your content seen. So, observing what gets you indexed quicker and ranked higher will be important to measure too.
However, keep in mind that you are writing for your audience first and foremost, not search engine bots. So don’t go overboard with adding keywords where they don’t make sense to your readers.
Let your audience guide you. Checking your content metrics will enable you to see which topics are getting the most traction with your target audience. This is invaluable data to direct future content plans.
Lots to do, so little time to do it
Creating great content isn’t an easy task – and especially if writing isn’t your bag. And after all, you have a business to run, right? Without having to learn to be an award winning writer as well.
However, if you want to create a successful content marketing plan that generates quality leads and keeps prospects moving through your sales funnel, you need to dedicate some resources.
Finally, you will need to be patient while you let your content marketing plan build momentum and ultimately, deliver you a steady stream of qualified leads and customers.
So, if you’ve read to this point, you’re definitely considering content marketing as a viable strategy to build your brand. So, let’s get together over a cuppa – we’d love to learn more about your business.