Planning on launching your business blog? Congratulations—but don’t hit “publish” just yet. If you don’t have a content strategy plan, you’re not ready to draw a crowd.
Why? Rather than diving straight into content development, taking the time to look at your company through a wide-angle lens to examine who you are trying to target and what topics and angles your prospects will find most compelling will give you the tools to plan out more relevant content. That will ultimately help you create more unique, engaging content that will capture ongoing interest in your brand.
While a full inbound marketing plan involves an in-depth look at your company’s marketing goals and unmet needs, here are a few tips to help you start thinking about your content marketing needs as part of an overall business strategy:
Whether your company is already successful or you’re just starting a new venture, there are likely several types of potential customers who might use your product or service. Rather than trying to market to everyone with the same messages, break down your prospects into distinct “buyer personas”: Think about a specific example of each target prospect, and identify the type of content that is most likely to grab his attention.
For instance, if your technology company targets both IT managers and CTOs, you’ll need to create different types of content to appeal to each. IT managers are likely to focus on useful information that can help them streamline their workflow, so they might enjoy tactical blog posts and video tutorials. CTOs, meanwhile, are more focused on how a vendor solution can cut IT costs and improve the company’s bottom line; they are more likely to choose high-level white papers that discuss using a particular technology to consolidate departments and drive down costs.
Once upon a time, most marketing consultants recommended bulleted lists of keyword phrases that should be incorporated into your online content to raise your site rankings for those terms. However, SEO is no longer the powerful tool it once was; if you want to see results, you need to focus on delivering messages that will resonate with your audience. Think about what your solution can offer to consumers: What are the key takeaways for each customer segment?
Going back to our tech company example, one takeaway for IT managers might be, “Our software helps you do your job more efficiently.” Develop a series of blog posts dedicated to strategies for IT managers to increase productivity, including case studies that spotlight your solution. While it’s useful to incorporate relevant keywords (particularly in the title and teaser sections), focusing on the core messages of your solution is a better strategy for increasing your audience through both organic search and social sharing.
Before you launch your new content marketing initiative, you’ll need to make sure that it is sustainable over the long term. Take a look at your marketing budget to see how much you should plan on investing into your content marketing over the year to come—this may mean examining which of your existing marketing strategies are underperforming, and reinvesting that budget into content.
Once you have a rough budget in mind, you can plot out an ongoing editorial calendar to outline the types of content you plan to spotlight, hiring a content marketing agency to help you develop the content your employees don’t have the bandwidth to produce, or even hiring additional employees to assist with your content marketing needs if there is room in your budget to do so.
Here’s a sample quarter-long content plan for that technology company:
3 advice-focused blog posts per week (36 total)
At the same time, it’s important to come up with a distribution plan for all of this new content, so that you can drive new prospects to your website and convert them into leads. In the next piece in this series, we’ll look at a number of strategies for getting your company’s articles and other materials out to the people you’re trying to reach.
Need help with developing your content strategy? Get in touch.
Kathryn Hawkins is principal and chief content strategist of Eucalypt Media. She has worked as a freelance journalist for media publications and managed inbound marketing and content strategy for corporate and nonprofit clients for more than 16 years.
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