Content Marketing 101: Some (Very) Basic Content Marketing Strategy

(This is Part III in a four-part series. Click on these links to find Part I and Part II.)

Now that you know what content marketing is, and the outcomes it can give you and your biz, let’s talk a bit about how to put this wonderful resource into action.

Remember back in the first post in this series, when we defined content marketing as a “strategic marketing effort“? That’s what we’re going to dig into today – how to create content that meets your purposes and needs.

(You’re not going to be a content marketing strategist by the end of this blog post, by any means. But you will have a better understanding of some very basic content strategy and how to use it.)

Content Marketing Strategy – Step 1

For the purposes of this post, we’re going to create a fictional health and wellness pro, a massage therapist named Julie.

The first step in creating Julie’s content marketing strategy is to decide on her main outcome or objective. We went over that in Part II. Who does Julie want her content to make her into, in the eyes of her audience?

Julie has decided she wants to become her tribe’s expert authority and trusted source for accurate and up-to-date information.

Secondarily, Julie wants to create a kickass online and real-world tribe, as well. She recognizes the value in a loyal group of followers who can not only advocate for her business, but perhaps for some of her beloved “causes” as well.

Lastly, Julie wants to be a life influencer. She wants to change minds and dispel myths surrounding what she does specifically, and what a healthy body is, in general. She wants people to come to her with their questions, their concerns, and join her in changing others’ minds and lives, too.

So, Julie is looking at three outcomes, with being an expert first and foremost, and being a community and thought leader somewhere in there, as well.

She’s taken the first step in creating her content marketing strategy.

It really is that simple.

Content Marketing Strategy – Step 2

Julie’s next important decision to make is what type of content is she going to use.

Will she be blogger? Maybe a podcaster? Maybe use a video platform like YouTube or Instagram? Create visuals to share on Pinterest or Twitter? Or just go the route of so many and hang up a shingle on Facebook?

(A quick note here – a website of your own is a must for any content marketer. Parking all your valuable content on someone else’s property is placing all that hard work, dedication, and hopes and dreams in jeopardy. What if, tomorrow, Facebook or Insta decided to charge extra for video content? Or if something like the proposed TikTok ban actually occurs? Where will your marketing efforts be then?)

Some of this decision will be influenced by knowing herself. Julie loves to do live demonstrations and hands-on teaching, so video is probably a good choice to fit her personality. Some of it will be determined by where her local clients are already hanging out on the internet. And that seems to be Facebook and Instagram. And Julie is smart enough to know about digital sharecropping from her consultation with me, so we’ve already got her own website in the works.

What Julie decides to do is create videos and some textual posts and become a vlogger/blogger. She’ll use her Insta and Facebook profiles to promote her vlog/blog, share small bits of information, and start conversations.

Her platform has been chosen, and her profiles are prepared. Julie’s ready to move on to step 3.

Content Marketing Strategy – Step 3

Step 3 for Julie is create a very basic content creation plan for herself. Since she has one main outcome and two secondary outcomes, we’ve decided she’ll be best off utilizing a 3:1:1 ratio for her content.

That means she’ll create one engaging/community building post and one encouraging/thought leadership post for every 3 educational posts she puts up on her vlog/blog. (She will use more engagement on her social media profiles, but we’re talking her main source for content marketing here.)

Frequency

Next, she’ll have to decide how often she’s going to update her vlog/blog. She thinks she can handle two new posts a week, especially if they are videos she can shoot in a few minutes.

The written plan

Once that is decided, she has to get a plan down on paper or screen somewhere – a notebook or a spreadsheet on her laptop will do the trick. I told Julie how studies have shown that having a written plan for content marketing can increase her chances of success by as much as 70%.

Topics

She’ll start off with 24 rows – one for each post for a quarter of the year. The first thing she’ll do is brainstorm those 24 topics, with 15 of them being educational, and 4 posts each of engaging and encouraging content. This leaves a post “left over” for addressing a current event or doing a promotional enticing post of some sort. That plan follows her ratio pretty well.

Dates

Now Julie knows she needs variety, and she’s already got built in variety with her three outcomes. She just needs to make sure she schedules that variety into her posting. So, across the top of her plan, she places a date to publish the post. That way, she doesn’t have to just go straight down her list and yet still be able to track what type of posts she’s been recently creating.

Next is to decide when to create the posts. I always encourage self-creators to have at least 2 posts created, posted, and scheduled ahead of time. That way, Murphy’s Law can’t catch up with your content marketing very easily. It gives you a safety net for things like illness, unexpected house guests, or even a natural disaster that disrupts power or internet services.

With this in mind, Julie decides to work a week ahead, so she adds another column, the date to create. She knows on that day, she has to shoot the video or write the blog post, and the posts for Facebook and Insta promoting her latest new content, and get them scheduled in HootSuite.

Done

For Julie, that’s it, for now. Later, she wants to meet and discuss things like categories and tags and some very basic SEO for her vlog and blog. For now, though, she just wants to get up and running and see if she can even “make this thing work”. So a very simple, very basic, content marketing strategy plan is all she needs.

Content Marketing Strategy and You

Now, it’s your turn. Do you think, given what you’ve just read and learned, that you could create a simple, basic content marketing strategy plan for you and your biz? It’s a valuable tool, whether you are a self-creator like Julie, or hire a creator like me to do the work for you.

It’s the first step that every new client and I take together, creating a plan for me to follow that puts their content to work for them in the best way possible.

Never publish without a purpose, and your content marketing strategy plan puts that purpose on paper, for all the world to see, understand, and follow. Any questions? Comments? Post them below. Want a content marketing strategy plan of your own and not sure you’re as capable of creating one as Julie is? Contact me. I’ll be happy to set up a strategy session for you.

Content Marketing 101: What Content Can Do For You

(This is the second post in a four-part series. You can find Part I here.)

Last week, we discussed what exactly this critter we call content marketing is. This week, we’re going to look at the 6 things content marketing can accomplish for you and your biz.

Because content marketing is marketing, it has to have a purpose, a goal, some reason for its existence. Otherwise, why bother, right?

So whether you want to call these 6 things the purposes behind content marketing, or the goals of content marketing, or just the “stuff” that content marketing can do for you, that’s completely up to you.

I prefer to call them outcomes – you set out to achieve them, and use your content to do so. It might be more accurate to call them objectives, because your main goal of content marketing is to form strong relationships with your audience. These 6 help you do that in very specific ways.

Ready? Let’s go!

The 6 E’s of Content Marketing

They say fun things make it easier to learn and remember something. And, I’ll be honest, as a professional word nerd, word play is something I love to mess around with, so when I was coming up with a way to present these 6 outcomes, I found a word that started with the letter E to describe each one.

Allow me to present to you the 6 E’s of content marketing. They are:

  • Educate
  • Encourage
  • Empathize
  • Excite
  • Engage
  • Entice

We’re going to discuss each one in detail, so you know exactly what it is and what it does for you when applied. I’ll also give you a practical examples of content you can use when desiring that E’s outcome in your content marketing.

Content That Educates

Our first E to explore is the one we’re most familiar with. Anyone who has spent any time on the internet or even on a mailing list in the real world knows what educational content is all about.

It’s content like this blog post, that teaches and informs the audience. And the thousands of articles found in every blog, ezine, magazine, and newspaper across the world.

It’s the recipe you find on a blog site to use up that weird jar of artichokes your foodie in-laws gave you for Christmas. That listicle naming the 164 items essential for your home office set up. And the how-to video your SaaS company sends you in an email after your first purchase. Also, the postcard from the political candidate outlining their views on the current hot-button issues.

And what all that content does is establish authority. It makes you the “expert”, the guy to go to for the answers and results. You’re the know-it-all for your audience, whether you actually know it all or not.

You know more than they do, and that’s all that matters to them.

Content That Encourages

Many times, even when we’re trying to be the expert, we create content that is encouraging or inspiring.

We post quotes and videos to uplift spirits. We share our thoughts and ideas and opinions in the hopes of sparking something inside the heads of our audience. We change minds and influence thoughts.

In short, we become thought leaders and life influencers.

Some people devote themselves to becoming encouragers. Many counselors and coaches, for example, spend most of their time reassuring their audience that yes, they can make the mental changes necessary for whatever success they are chasing – fitness, weight loss, quitting smoking, overcoming anxiety, etc. Confidence boosting is vital to many self-improvement programs, especially when things get tough.

You become their cheerleading and their biggest fan, as well as their coach and mentor. You change their mindset as well as their situation.

Content That Empathizes

Unless you are a sociopath, you most likely share some empathy with aspects of others’ struggles. It’s another part of our human nature that’s hard to ignore, and sometimes, difficult to hide.

Just as some have chosen to be professional encouragers, others have taken on the role of professional empathizer. Some do it because they aren’t comfortable with placing themselves in the position of the end-all-be-all authority on their subject. Still others do it because it’s natural to their place and their biz.

Take, for instance, the parent of a disabled child who has developed a business around educational or movement aids for that child.

Their audience is other parents of children like theirs. Their only expertise is the day-to-day hands-on knowledge they’ve gained from their unique parenting situation. They are down in the trenches, right alongside their customers and prospects, getting through each day as best they can, using their products or services for their own benefit.

They are no better or worse than the people they serve. And so their content reflects that. “We’re right there with you on this one.”

You often find empathetic content from support groups, too, as many of those “experts” are “survivors” or “in recovery”, just like the people they try to help. “Been there, done that.” Charitable organizations often use empathetic content to try and help you relate to their cause, their needs. “You know how hard it can be…..”

It makes the people behind the content very real, very human, very likable, very relatable. A true and trusted friend. And that’s what good content should do.

Content That Excites

Ever follow an author’s regular updates on their latest work-in-progress? What about your favorite fitness guru as they prepare to launch a new boot camp? Or how about Gary Vee and his hyperactive, loud videos?

If you have, then you know all about how exciting some content can be.

It builds you up for something big, or bigger, anyway. It feeds a sense of curiosity and anticipation. You get the feeling that not only are you a member of the audience, but a participant in the process. You are behind-the-scenes, a part of the action. Or at least you want to be.

Content that excites isn’t often done as a steady diet. Most bloggers and vloggers and podcasters can’t keep it going forever. A few authors I know are pretty good at it, but even they don’t use excitement in every post or video.

There are down days in Life, and it’s in our nature to share them right alongside the good ones.

Excitement can be used, though, when big things are in the works. A new book. A new look for your brand. That new course or service you’re adding to your offers. How about growth? Those new office digs or that new team member is sure to warrant some excitement and anticipation.

Go ahead and share. We’ll enjoy the ride along with you.

Content That Engages

Even the most introverted among us enjoys a good conversation every now and then. Strangers become friends. Friends become like family. Conversations change our lives. Sometimes, they create the times of our lives.

And that’s what engaging content does, too. It starts conversations. It helps strangers form relationships. It creates families of followers.

Many think that engaging content must be restricted to social media and only social media. I have seen successful engagement in blogs, on YouTube channels, and even via email. Jeff Goins, author and speaker, and Colin Theriot, self-proclaimed copywriting “cult leader”, both encourage engagement with their daily emails. They want to hear from their readers. They desire those conversations.

So much content talks at the audience, not to or with them. If your ultimate goal is to be the leader of a community of followers – a family of fans – then engaging content should be your go-to resource for creating it.

Content That Entices

All right, here we are. I chose the word “entice” because it means to persuade, to create desire. In short, it’s a synonym for “sell” and we can’t discuss content marketing without discussing how we can use content to sell, right?

The biggest issue I have with enticing content is that for some, that’s the only kind of content they create and publish.

Do you know what happens when all you tell your audience is “buy buy buy”? Your audience tells you “bye bye bye”.

If you’ve read the Part I of this series, you know that your content has to be valuable. There’s no value in publishing nothing but sales messages. They get tedious and boring after a while. Your audience will go find someone who is a better conversationalist.

Now, that said, there’s nothing wrong with having a CTA of some sort in every piece of content you create. How about a call for comments or questions at the end of a blog post or video? Or a request for replies to an email? A “sign-up for email updates” opportunity is another “enticement” that doesn’t sell anything.

In fact, I think many miss opportunities because they don’t include “soft sells” like these in their content.

But “buy buy buy” messages should be kept to somewhat of a minimum, unless you’ve just launched a new offer or are taking pre-orders or it’s a big “sale” like year-end or holiday time or some such. Even then, the flow of good, valuable, consistent content shouldn’t stop.

We can’t forget that it’s the content they come for. The sales and signups we make are the icing on the cake.

Putting All This Content to Good Use

We’ll get more into content strategy in Part III of this series, but for now, let’s just say that the best thing to do is to choose one of the things your content can make you as your main goal for your content marketing.

Want to be an expert? Educate. Want to be a community leader? Engage. Want to be their trusted friend? Empathize. Want to be a thought leader and life influencer? Encourage. Want to get them pumped up and ready for action? Excite.

Then, choose one or two of the others that you wouldn’t mind having as a secondary and even third outcome. (In today’s online health and wellness world, that’s typically educate to become an expert first and a community or thought leader second and third.)

You’ve just discovered the main type of content you should focus on, and one or two other types to throw in every now and then to mix things up.

Audiences love variety, by the way. No one wants a steady diet of the same thing, day after day, on their plate. No one wants a steady diet of the same type of content, either. A good mix keeps your audience coming back for more.

Now that you know what content can do for you, what will you decide? What’s the main outcome you want your content marketing to achieve? Drop me a line in the comments, please. I’d love to hear from you!