You don’t have to look too far on social media these days to find every digital marketing guru screaming at you to “create more content”.
Gary Vaynerchuck reckons you should be creating 100 pieces of content per day.
But let’s be real…
Unless you have a team of content creators at your beck and call, photographing and taking video of your every working moment, jotting down your everyday expressions of genius and cutting it all up into dozens and dozens of pieces of content, 100 pieces of content is a pipedream.
But even if you do manage to create 100 pieces of content per day, does that guarantee your sales funnel is going to be overloaded with leads?
It’s not that simple.
More content does not magically equal more leads.
So, instead of worrying about the volume of content you create, you should be more concerned about the quality of content you create.
There’s an important point to make here, however.
“Quality” content does not mean your content has to be commercial-grade television advertising.
It doesn’t mean you need to craft 15,000 word articles explaining the intricacies of the universe you play in.
It means providing your intended audience with content that is going to add value to their lives and improve the way they perceive your business and/or brand.
So, how do we do that?
The truth is that most of the work when it comes to generating consistent leads through content marketing takes place long before you craft your first piece of content.
Like most things in marketing, it starts with cold, hard facts and research.
Step One: Research, Research, Research – What problems are your customers looking to solve?
When you break it down, content marketing is a pretty simple endeavour in terms of what it should achieve.
Content marketing is the creation and consistent distribution of valuable and relevant content to acquire a defined audience, with the aim of driving profitable consumer action.
If we dumb that down even further, you could define content marketing as the practice of providing your target market with content that is going to help them solve problems they face or attain something they want.
We do this because we want to ensure that we are consistently improving our brand or business’ position as:
- A figure of authority within our market or industry
- A business or brand that is there first and foremost to help, before thinking about what we can get out of it
- A trusted and reputable provider of products and services within our market or industry
The best way to do these things via content marketing is to first and foremost develop a deep understanding of your ideal customers.
This is often referred to as a client or customer avatar and is the process of imagining what your ideal or dream client actually looks like.
You can have as few or as many client or customer avatars as you want, but it’s best to try and stick to your best 3-5 ideal client or customer types.
For each avatar you develop, you should know their…
- Education level
- Their hopes, dreams and desires
- Their biggest fears
- The biggest barriers they face to achieving those dreams or solving those fears
- Preferred communication method
- Their vernacular or language
- What makes them happy
Sounds like a lot, right?
But understanding this is crucial to being able to take Step Two, which is planning the content you want to create.
By understanding who you want to speak to, it suddenly becomes a lot easier to think of ideas for content that will:
- help them aspire to their hopes, dreams and desires
- ease or solve their biggest fears
- make them happy
- at a time that best suits them
- in a language they clearly understand
- via a channel they are more likely to see it
Too often, content focuses far too much on “what we do” and not on “how to solve this problem”, or, “how to make this dream come true”.
Here’s a super simple exercise you can complete…
For each avatar you create, complete the following exercise…
|What are their…||Top Priority||Second Priority|
|Hopes and Dreams|
So if we take mortgage broking as an example.
This mortgage broker might be looking to win more work from families who are concerned about their existing interest rate.
Their research has shown that their target audience are home-owners aged between 30-50 with young families.
These people are active on social media and are mostly professionals, working mainly between the hours of 9-5.
Furthermore, this mortgage broker’s research has shown that one of the big fears that this target audience has as is that they are paying too much money on their home loan repayments.
However, their major barrier is not understanding how to find the best rate and not being sure who to trust.
This mortgage broker completed the above exercise and came up with…
|What are their…||Top Priority||Second Priority|
|Hopes and Dreams||To be mortgage free||To afford an investment property|
|Fears||Paying too much interest||Not being in control of their finances|
|Barriers||Unsure how to shop for a better rate||Not sure who to trust|
Now that you’ve got the creative juices flowing and you know who you are trying to speak to, you can start planning content.
Step Two: Plan your content
Content planning is all about deciding the topics you’re going to produce content about, the type of content you’re going to create and the channels you are going to use to distribute that content.
The hard work you did in step one should make this part relatively simple.
When it comes to topics, you want to ensure that the topics you cover are directly addressing your target audiences hopes and dreams or their fears and the barriers they face to realising those dreams or removing those fears.
So if we use the same example as above with the mortgage broker, they might come up with some topic headlines like…
STOP giving the banks too much money! Five tips for restructuring your home loan
Get that property investment sooner! How you can save money on your home loan AND build a deposit for your first investment
Would you trust the casino to help a gambling addict? How a mortgage broker can help you get one over the Big Four banks.
Next, it’s time to decide the types of content you’re going to create and how you’re going to distribute that content.
Often, people jump straight into creating content without thinking about where the content needs to go to have the best chance of capturing your target audience.
The channel should, more often than not, dictate the type of content.
For example, if you know your target audience spend a lot of time on Instagram, then a short 1-minute video is going to be a lot more effective than an article.
If you know your customer spends a lot of time on Twitter, an article with a well-designed graphic might be a better option.
A good content marketing strategy will create a wide variety of content which can be distributed via different marketing channels.
Examples of different types content include:
- Graphic design
- Press releases
- Social media posts
It is often true that one piece of content can be adapted into various other pieces of content.
So, for example, a well-written and executed article on a website, could be adapted into a short video, an infographic and several social media posts.
Whatever type of content you are planning to create, we always recommend starting with a written piece.
It is often said copywriting is one of the most important marketing skills you can have. So if you don’t have these in house, you should consider working with a business-winning copywriter.
Whether or not you publish the article or the e-book you write, this is the most effective way to get all your ideas down on paper.
Once you’ve done that you can easily convert what you’ve written into a video script, an infographic, a presentation or several short social media posts.
But before you start creating content, you should plan at least 2-3 months worth of content.
You should also group your content into campaigns and set goals for each piece of content and each piece of campaign.
For example, if you’ve created an article which you’ve published on your website and are sharing via social media, what is the end action you want?
Is it for people to simply read your article?
Or do you want your readers to leave you an email so you can add them to your marketing list?
If you’ve published an ebook, don’t give it away without collecting a name, email and maybe even a phone number.
If you’re creating a video, what do you want the viewer to do once they’ve watched it?
How should they complete that action?
Having clear goals behind what you’re doing will:
- Ensure you take those goals into consideration when creating the content
- Make it easier for you to analyse the effectiveness of your content marketing efforts
A tip for beginners…try and stay a minimum of 4-6 weeks ahead of your schedule.
This will give you a bit of a buffer for busy periods and ensure you can keep posting content consistently.
Step Three: Distribute your content
Once you’ve created your content, it’s time to get it out there!
If you’re just starting out and you’re using platforms like Facebook and Instagram, you need to ensure that part of your distribution strategy includes a budget for ad spend, to ensure your content can be seen and accessed by the widest possible audience.
This is why defining your target audience is important as well.
If you already have a bit of a following, or you have a strong email list, make sure you send the content directly to them as well.
Encourage your followers to sign up for notifications when you post something new.
Ensure you make it as easy as possible for those seeing your content on each channel to leave an enquiry, sign up for more updates or follow you.