“Want to do an activity?” my son asks. Paul and I agree. He hands each of us a pencil and a sheet of paper face down. Zachary tells us to circle numbers in order beginning with one and working up as high as we can. And he’ll be timing us after we turn over our papers.
“Go!” We flip to see a page with numbers all over in no particular order. I’m scanning for the one … for the two … three … it’s taking too long to find the three … finally! Four …
Talk about feeling jumpy!
“Time’s up! How many did you find?” Zachary asks. Embarrassed, I found 9. Paul got 11. He gives us another sheet of paper face down. We’re to do the same thing except draw two lines and the numbers will appear in four quadrants. Look for the first number in the first quadrant. The next one in the second quadrant. And so on. After the fourth number, go back to the first quadrant.
He tells us to go. We flip the paper to see the numbers in four squares. Number one is in the first quadrant, two in the second, etc. Five is in the first, six in the second. You get the idea.
“Time’s up! How many did you find?” I felt better about my 20 and Paul’s 21. He explains how important it is to have a plan or goals so we can hit our targets faster and more effectively rather trying to do things randomly. Wow. What a powerful lesson and a great way to teach it to kids. (Thanks to Mrs. Brennan, our elementary school counselor for all 14 years!)
So what kind of results will a company get when it does content marketing without a strategy? Clearly not as good as it could with a strategy in place.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the thought of doing a content marketing plan. Start small with these arse-kicking six steps.
1. Marketing goals. Identify marketing goals you want to achieve in six to 12 months. Examples:
- Educate prospects and clients.
- Build brand awareness.
- Engage influencers and customers.
- Generate new sales leads.
- Support current clients.
- Nurture leads.
- Cross-sell and up-sell.
2. Target audience. Build one persona in your target audience with the following information. (Remember we’re keeping it simple for starters.)
- Job title.
- Company details.
- Pain points.
- Character traits.
- Likes and dislikes.
- How the person prefers to get information.
- Where do you find this person online?
3. Make a list of questions your prospects and clients ask. You’ll create content that answers those questions and know what content you need to help them move to the next stage.
- Blog posts.
- Curated content.
4. Determine what types of content you will create. You can save a lot of time by spinning off content into other types that eventually get you the email address you want.
For example, you’re planning to do a webinar. The contents from the webinar can be the basis for more content, such as a series of blog posts, a SlideShare presentation and an ebook that requires filling a form to access it. (Gated content.) Now you have an email address to add to your growing email list. Next time you create new content, send an email to your list to tell them about it.
5. Make a simple publishing schedule. Don’t go nuts trying to create an editorial calendar. Instead, come up with a publishing schedule, such as monthly webinars, weekly blog posts and so on.
6. Make a list of where you’ll promote the content. Turn this list into a checklist that you can reuse each time you’ve created a new type of content. Here’s an example:
- Email list. (One time with a second send to those who didn’t open first send.)
- Twitter. (Two times a day.) Test different headlines.
- Facebook. (Twice a week.) Test different images and introductory copy.
- LinkedIn company page. (One time.)
- LinkedIn personal account. (One time.)
- Google+ company page. (One time.)
- Google+ personal page. (One time.)
And there you have your six-step content marketing plan.
What about metrics? Yes, they’re invaluable. However, I promised a simple content marketing plan to get you going. You can add more as you find a routine.
So which approach will you take with your content marketing? The random one like the first worksheet — creating content on an ad hoc basis without considering your target audience’s needs and preferences? Or will you take the organized approach like the second worksheet — delivering the content your target audience wants and needs?
Now go create a kick-arse content marketing strategy!