If you want to create a content marketing strategy, but your eyes glaze over when you start thinking about it, you’re in the right place. Let’s talk about how to make it easy, and how to make it impactful. Both are important.
Select a starting point
Before I get too into the weeds when it comes to creating a content marketing strategy, I like to ask people what comes to mind when I say that word.
Responses vary, but generally include:
- Blog posts
- Social media content
- Email newsletters
- YouTube videos
- TikTok videos
- Instagram posts
- Written content
- Audio content
- Video content
Content is anything you put online that represents your brand.
When you create content, make sure you create it for these two places before going anywhere else:
- Your website
- Your email newsletter
That’s it. Every other place is simply amplification.
We created the “Megaphone Method” to illustrate this. It starts with video in the graphic, but you can substitute that initial video for a piece of long-form written content (like what you’re reading now).
Starting with owned content is superior for a number of reasons.
- Your email newsletter and online content are less prone to getting turned off by some algorithm.
- Your social media audiences do not have 100% overlap, so even if you just mentioned something on Instagram, tomorrow, you can make sure to say that very same thing on Twitter without worrying about repeating yourself.
- If you start with your blog, then you’re never putting yourself in a situation to develop independent strategies for the different platforms. You’re a service provider, not a full-time social media amplifier!
Okay, so we’ve agreed that you’re going to come up with a content marketing strategy primarily for your blog.
Get someone to ask you questions to help you brainstorm ideas for content
This part feels overwhelming on your own, which is why I think you’d be better off if you had someone else ask you questions to help you brainstorm.
Without an outsider, you may come up with scintillating topics like:
- “3 ways my product is the best thing on earth”
- “Personnel update! We just hired a new such-and-such!”
- “My company was just given an award that I’ve never heard about before!”
Or worse, when you start doing competitive research, you’ll come across a company that has a huge team of content writers and they’re putting out fresh new content every single day.
In content marketing, HubSpot comes to mind when it comes to a giant company putting out all kinds of content every single day. How can I compete with HubSpot?
The truth is, I can’t. Our company is different, our offers are different (the vault is awesome but it’s not a CMS!), and so looking at what they’re doing for content shouldn’t make me feel like I’ll never be able to write anything at all related to helping people with content marketing.
Silly example, but in every industry, there are huge players who are winning the game.
But your clients aren’t going to those huge companies. They’re coming to you.
Go beyond competitor research and create content that helps you stand out
It’s all well and good to start with competitor research, as long as you find legit competitors, not just the big players.
Side note: We used to do a fair amount of work with financial advisors, helping them come up with strategies to amplify their expertise online, and every time I asked one of them who they considered their competition, they said “Fidelity” or “Vanguard” which might be true on some level, but not really. By digging deeper, we always found an answer that was much more of a direct competitor. Their prospects had already ruled out Fidelity and Vanguard, so their real competition was someone else in their area who offered similar services.
But don’t stop at competitor research. That’s only half of the picture.
It’s easy to see what your competitors are creating, but in order to stand out, you’ll need to answer questions like:
- What sorts of questions are people asking you throughout the sales process?
- When you’re on a sales call with a prospect, what’s one question you wish they’d ask you? You know, the one where your answer would almost certainly close the sale?
- What do people misunderstand about your industry? Where are they accepting the hard path simply because they don’t know there’s an easier way?
- What sorts of problems does your ideal customer have that you can help them solve?
Create a content calendar
Now that you have a decent list of topics you brainstormed, put that on a calendar.
You can use the one in the Content Playbook as a jumping-off point, but remember: content calendars, like planners, are only as good as the person who fills them out:
So if you’re not going to use a spreadsheet for a content calendar, a) me neither, and b) don’t bother downloading something you won’t use.
But the calendar is useful for a couple of reasons.
The first is committing to a posting schedule. And now let me talk about posting. Whatever you can do consistently is far better than whatever you can do occasionally.
So if you can only commit to writing one blog post per month, so be it. Make it the best blog post you can (none of those personnel updates!), and publish one post per month.
Of course, the more the merrier, but this feels like someone who has all of a sudden gotten into the idea of exercising. “I’m going to exercise every day! Twice a day! WOOOO!!!” and then that lasts exactly as long as it takes to pull something, injure something, or get sick.
Instead, commit to writing a post a month. Go ahead, write 12. Schedule them.
But if you want to get on Google’s good side, you’ll want to post much more consistently than once a month.
On that note…
Create content that has a chance of getting some attention from Google
For every article you intend to write, use Google yourself and get some intelligence on search intent.
What’s that jargon you say? Well, you’ll want to find the top ten (excluding ads) search results for each keyword you search. Your goal is to be one of those ten, so do a little digging and find websites that have a lower domain authority than yours.
After you do that, it’s time to forget about the robots and write the best article you can on your topic, meant for humans. The robots will crawl your site, but it’s humans who are going to buy what you’re selling.
Your article needs to solve a problem. Put another way, you’re going to create content that solves the search query. “How do I << x y z >>?” someone will type in.
For every new article, spend more time than you want to coming up with a title
One of my favorite parts of the Content Playbook is the “Blog Post Title Templates” piece.
Here are the best types of blog post titles:
- Numbered lists
- How to
- Case studies
- Myth busting
- Expert roundup
- Beginner’s guide
These are useful in the brainstorming phase, too, but they’re a good list to run through when you’ve finished writing your article.
Run every article through a checklist
It’s not really all that important to do what the search engine plugins say to do in order to rank. But some things matter.
- Making sure there’s a mix of headings (h1 is the title, h2 and h3 are subheadings)
- Adding bullets or otherwise breaking long paragraphs into shorter ones
- Adding an external link, preferably one that helps you define what you’re talking about (no need to link to your direct competitors!)
- Adding an internal link, but only if it’s relevant
- Putting your keyword/key phrase into your title and meta description, at least one header, and at least one paragraph
- Adding a relevant call to action at the bottom of your article
- Adding a table of contents if you’ve written a long post
Use the Video-to-Blog Post Checklist if you’re starting with video
This checklist from the vault is gold. Pure gold. And by that I mean, we use this for our high-end, high-ticket clients. So if you want to give yourself the same level of service we reserve for our clients, use this:
Start the repurposing process before you hit publish
It’s really tempting to put this off for your future self but don’t. If you get into the habit of creating social media content while you’re creating blog content, you’re not going to feel nearly as overwhelmed.
So right now, while it’s fresh, do the following:
- Create an email newsletter version of the blog post. (And oh my god do not write five words and put a link into your email client! Remember: the point of collecting emails is to have a deeper communication with the people who’ve asked to join your list. It is NOT to get more clicks on your blog post!)
- Create a Twitter thread (complete with an intro, numbers for the end of each tweet, and a follow-up ‘liked this? Here’s how to share it’ CTA at the end.
- Skim for short, pithy quotes and drop those into your social media scheduler.
- Take one of the stories out of it, plop it under a picture of your face, and BAM you have yourself at least one Instagram post!
- Create an Instagram carousel
Conclusion: building a content marketing strategy isn’t complicated. Executing that strategy takes some work.
But you can do this.
Investing in your content will pay off in the long run.
Treating your website like a magnet for your next best clients to come to you, ready to do business with you, and NOT as yet another thing on your never-ending to-do list is powerful reframing.
You paid a lot of money for your website to look as good as it does.
It’s time to let it start working for you.