I recently dropped my $500 smart phone in the bathtub. I know, not so smart. And really who takes baths any more? All I can say is I was super sore from a martial arts class and I had this book that I just couldn't put down. I was reading the best-selling book, The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber. In his book he encourages small business owners to work on their business, not just in their business. This proved to be a revolutionary and transformative idea for me that has also helped thousands of other successful people to build thriving small businesses that function like well-oiled machines.
And this same idea can, and should, be applied to your content strategy. It’s not enough to just write a blog and be active on social media (working in your business). You also need to develop a content strategy to help you achieve your business goals (working on your business).
So here are five ways to improve your content marketing strategy.
1. Define Your Purpose
Before you write your next blog post, article, video, or podcast you need to do something. Define the purpose of your content marketing. Why are you spending all this time creating content? What is your primary aim? If you’re in a for-profit business then chances are one of your main goals is to generate revenue. And to generate revenue you need customers. And to acquire customers you’ll have to engage in marketing. Many choose content marketing because of its ability to connect with readers in a way traditional advertising never could.
But you’ll need to go beyond, “My goal is to use content marketing to acquire customers.” Be more specific. How many customers do you want to acquire and by when? The more specific you can be, the better.
2. To Thine Own Customer Be True
In order to create a successful content strategy it’s important you know your customer better than she knows herself. I realize that may seem strange but hear me out. Far too many business owners get excited about what they want to say in their content marketing instead of giving the customers what they want. To avoid this fatal marketing mistake it’s vital to study your target market until you know them better than they know themselves.
Here are some questions to consider:
- How old are they?
- Where do they live?
- Are they Internet and business savvy?
- What is their annual income? How do they spend their money?
- What blogs, magazines and forums do they read?
- What do they do for fun?
- What are their fears, frustrations and ambitions?
Once you possess an intimate knowledge of your Ideal Customer then, and only then, will you be equipped to create content that resonates deeply with them. Expert content marketers know how to create content that joins the conversation already taking place inside the mind of their reader. And in order to do that you must know how your reader thinks.
3. Which Media Platforms Will You Use?
“Content” is not limited to the written word. Although writing is the most popular way to share ideas, it’s not the only way. Video and audio are two other effective ways to distribute your content. You may want to create a YouTube channel for video content or record audio content in the form of downloadable mp3s. Perhaps you could record a free training session on how to solve a common problem your target market has. Or maybe you want to connect on a regular basis via a Podcast on iTunes. Many people choose to use a three-pronged approach to content marketing consisting of written, spoken and video content.
4. Planning Your Editorial Calendar
Most blogs, YouTube channels and Podcasts are ghost towns. And here’s why. The business owner gets excited about content marketing and launches a blog or YouTube channel. After a few posts they get distracted by the daily demands of running a business. “I’ll get to that later when I have some more time,” they think. Ever tell yourself that?
Reality check: you will never have more time. So to avoid content marketing burnout you need to approach this systematically. Remember, you’re learning how to develop a content strategy (working on your business) not just learn the tactics (working in your business).
So decide how often you want to post. Let’s take blogging as an example. I’d suggest posting at least twice a month and at most, daily. It’s also a good idea to maintain a “reserve.” By reserve, I mean having several evergreen blog posts you’ve written but not published. Then if you need to publish a new post, but were too busy during the week to write, you can just use one from your reserve.
5. Quality More Than Quantity
It’s tempting to think, “If I just produce more content, I’ll get more business.” But that’s not usually how it works. What generally happens when business owners think this way is that they end up producing mediocre content that people don’t care about. You need to remember that you’re marketing to the most distracted generation ever.
People are drowning in free content. It doesn’t cost money but they still have to spend time reading, listening or watching it. So instead of producing more content you could redirect your energy into creating a better experience for your customers.
For example, instead of writing ten more blog posts consider creating a short manifesto that takes the form of an e-book. This manifesto could combine all the great ideas you were going to include in those ten blog posts. But instead you wrap it all up in a nice neat package and hand it to your grateful reader. Now instead of having ten mediocre experiences with your company they have one great experience they’ll remember and be more likely to share with others.
What kind of content strategy are you using to grow your business? Let us know by leaving a comment below.