Content is every marketer’s main form of currency. Think of some of the biggest influencers on YouTube, Instagram, and nearly every other form of social media—what do they have to offer that makes them so influential? Sometimes it’s a product or service they’re trying to sell, but most of the time it’s simply the fact that they have incredibly engaging content.
Content marketing is an effective tactic for establishing thought leadership and engaging your audience without coming across as “too sales-y.” By producing the right content and delivering it to the right audience through the right channels, you can grow an engaged and loyal follower base who may eventually turn into paying customers.
Not sure where to start? Here are 5 steps to take to get moving with content marketing.
1. Understand Your Audience
Before you can create content, you need to define and fully understand your target audience. This is a step that many early stage businesses overlook, despite having a general understanding of who they’re selling to.
Create a persona map and list out every type of person that you expect to engage with your brand. Consider the following:
- Potential buyers or stakeholders in the buying process
- Potential channel partners
- Potential investors
Be as detailed as possible in describing your ideal personas and add in specific traits regarding their typical demographic, habits, interests, and pain points. By understanding your audience’s background, what they’re interested in, and the common challenges that they face, you will have an easier time producing targeted content for this audience.
Need templates? Hubspot provides excellent templates for getting started with personas.
2. Determine Your Primary Marketing Channels
After you complete your persona exercise, you should have a good idea of where your potential customers like to spend their time consuming content. This will vary from business to business, but evaluate which channels will resonate most with your target audience:
- Social Media (LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, etc.)
- Phone / Text Messaging
- Print Media
- Digital Media (ie online magazines or publications)
- Search Engines (ie Google, Bing)
It could be that your target audience prefers to consume content in just one of these channels, or even all of them! For some businesses, it might be easy or even obvious from the start where their target audience spends their time. Other businesses may need to do thorough testing or gather feedback from actual potential customers to truly understand where they consume content. It’s important to determine your primary marketing channels so that you can determine the content formats that will work best for those channels.
3. Decide What Content Formats Work Best
It’s time to evaluate what types of content you or your marketing team should focus on producing. If your audience likes to spend their time mostly on Instagram or YouTube, it might make sense to gear your content strategy more towards rich media like photo posts and videos. If they’re not as active on social media but still religiously check their inbox, then it may make more sense to craft a solid email marketing program that shares content like blog posts or company news via newsletters.
Look at the channels run by your competitors and peers and see how they’re approaching their content strategy and see what’s resonating best with your audience. This can provide some inspiration for new messaging or content to test within your own channels. When it comes to identifying which content works best, you can never go wrong with doing more A/B testing.
4. Create an Editorial Calendar
Okay, you’ve created persona maps, you’ve studied where your audience spends their time consuming content, and you already started testing different content formats to see what works best.
It’s easy to get burnt out or overwhelmed with how much content you and your team will have to produce, and a lot of businesses will start off strong by publishing content very frequently only to taper off and go for long stretches of time without new content at all. A tried and true method of getting ahead of this burnout is by establishing and maintaining an editorial calendar.
Create an editorial calendar to set a reasonable cadence for content production and set expectations for your team as to when certain pieces of content should be published and promoted. You can break your future content down by month, week or day, and also by channel (ie email, social media, website, etc.). That way, you can plan ahead and see what type of content you’ll be producing, the topic, and the channels where you will distribute the content to your audience. If you have a sales team or other teams that are expected to share this content through their own outreach, the editorial calendar is also a great way to keep everyone on the same page.
5. Don’t Try to Reinvent the Wheel
As much as we’d like to think of ourselves as being highly original and unique, chances are that some of the topics you will write about have already been written about by someone else. However, don’t stress out about whether or not you should create a piece of content just because someone else has done it before. In many cases it could actually be a good idea to take inspiration from others’ content because it signals that it’s a topic that people are likely interested in learning more about.
That said, we’re not recommending plagiarism by any means. Take inspiration from what others are writing about, but always apply it back to your business and how it brings value to your specific audience.
We do, however, strongly recommend that you copy your own content. Over. And over.
What does that mean?
Your audience’s attention span is short, and many aren’t going to interact with every single piece of content that you produce. You will have the luxury of being able to repurpose content repeatedly into different formats, therefore don’t get caught up in trying to create net-new complete original content every single time.
As an example, let’s say that you’ve spent several hours writing and designing a whitepaper. That’s a long content format and there’s a good chance that the whitepaper is broken down into multiple chapters or sections. Instead of spending many more hours trying to create yet another new whitepaper right away or create net-new content in other formats, you can simply repurpose each section and even subsection as a blog post, an infographic, a video, a webinar topic, and more. 90% of the work was already done when you completed the whitepaper, and it should be much easier to repurpose this existing content into other formats. By doing this, you will be much more efficient with your time in both publishing and promoting your new content.
Getting Started with Content Marketing Is Easy
Content marketing takes time, but if you can easily set yourself and your team up for success by taking strategic steps earlier on in the process. Truly get to know your audience and be smart with how you prioritize and plan your content creation.
Need more help with content marketing and strategy? Reach out to schedule a free 30-minute consultation with our team, and we’ll help guide you in the right direction.