My theme for May, as I get this blog up and running, is content planning. Planning makes everything easier, from writing a book to running a marathon to taking a vacation. Your content plan is not a rigid box that locks you in. Instead it gives structure and direction, so that you know where you’re going and how you intend to get there. Changes happen, and that’s good. But a plan will help you avoid costly and futile “random acts of marketing” (not my original phrase, but I love it).
10 Content Planning Tips
In this post by Joshua Nite, writing at the Top Rank Marketing Blog, he lays out some general principles and some useful applications as you crate your content marketing plan. He starts with the basics:
1. Know Your Goals
What do you want your content to do for you?
- Attract subscribers?
- Persuade them to pick up the phone?
- Get them to buy your introductory offer?
- All of the above or something else?
Each page will have its own goal, and, put together, the goals will make a path to a deeper relationship with you. Being aware of that path and how each piece of content contributes to it will make your content planning work better for you.
2. Know Your Audience
Who are these people you’re talking to?
- What do they want?
- What do they need?
- How much do they know about what you offer?
Knowing the answers to these questions, as well as their demographics and influencers, will help you communicate in a way that connects deeply with them and lets them know you’re part of their community.
I also cover these two items quickly in Why Bother to Develop a Content Plan for Your Website?
Nite then adds one tip that’s not quite as obvious:
3. Hit the Whole Funnel
Where do your audience fall in their growing relationship with you? What do they know about you? Have they —
- Started to read your blog?
- Subscribed to your newsletter?
- Bought their first product or service?
What you say to people who already know and trust you is entirely different from what you say to people who don’t know that they need what you do.
In the next few steps, he takes up the content itself.
4. Vary the Content Types
The variety is good for your reader and also helps you keep boredom at bay.
5. Reuse and Recycle
Create valuable original content and then find ways to reuse it in different ways.
6. Have Fun
Unless your business is deadly serious (and we know that even Korean War Army doctors have to laugh to keep from falling apart), you can probably a funny side of your business. Where you fall on the scale from wry to edgy depends on your audience, but humor breaks down resistance and reveals your personality.
7. Use Interactive Content
“Your chief competitor for your audience’s attention is not other content—it’s everything else in the world,” Nite says, and it’s a truth that every content marketer needs to take into consideration. Think of how many times you see “How __________ are you?” quizzes in your Facebook stream. Some are pretty stupid, but some are fun and informative, and some can be downright useful.
Quizzes, surveys, and templates can be help you spread the word through friends of followers and bring in subscribers to your newsletter. The next three tips have to do with your sources.
8. “Leverage Internal Experts”
By internal experts, he means people working within your own company who have specific knowledge about your processes and how they affect your clients. If you’re a solopreneur like many of us, including me, your “internal experts” may be the different hats you wear as you go through your business life.
But instead of writing off the idea, think of the other people who help you in your business — your attorney, your accountant, your web person. What information can they give your audience. Not about what a wonderful person you are, but about problems that plague your audience.
A short interview can give you good content for an audio file or a blog post. (I saw a fascinating presentation by a web developer and his attorney, talking to a group of free-lancers. It was entertaining and enlightening at the same time.)
You can also think of people who provide related services to yours. Bruce Huck, of TriOasis Wellness Center in Portland, has occasional open house days, with presentations by nutritional experts, naturopaths, chiropractors, and other health-care providers whose services have a parallel path and similar audience with his.
9. Co-create with Influencers
There are many popular business books made up of chapters written by different influential people on different aspects of a problem. The author of the book is the one who put the project together — a good chunk of the work involved — and the experts just had to contribute a chapter.
You can use the content you produce from other experts and influencers in a variety of ways:
- Blog interviews
- Series of webinars
- Video series
- And you can combine any or all of them into a book
10. Start a Dialogue
The final set of experts you can talk to are your own clients. Testimonials are a start. But you can also connect them with others who need their services, show off their photos, promote their businesses, get their advice.
Content Planning and You
The problem with content planning is not that there’s not enough opportunity, but that there’s too much. That’s where a content marketing plan becomes necessary to keep your efforts effective and on target.
The 10 tips Joshua Nite gives (and I recommend you check them out because while I’ve added some thoughts, you don’t want to miss his take on them) will help you get started on your content planning.
Still need help? Call me for a free half-hour strategy session. We can get you started to make the best use of your content marketing plan. Call (503) 765-6981.
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