Developing a content strategy for your business is one of the most exciting feats you can take on a business owner. Why? In every aspect of business there are an unquantifiable amount of games being played every second.
Whether you’re aware of it or not, game theory plays a major role in all of our lives. From politics to business, to the mundane decisions we make on a daily basis. Why does it matter? Because the moves we make have a long lasting effect on our growth over the long run.
When it comes to marketing, Game Theory specifically speaks to what you want to do (Content Strategy) & what you want to achieve (Business Goals). Simply put, your actions have to match the end result that you desire. One of my favorite quotes is: “I gave it all and got it all right back”.
Think back to the moment that you decided to start a business. There was a point where you had to make a decision, calculate risks and weigh your options. The same process can be applied through content strategy, game theory and social media.
One of my favorite books, “The Art of Strategy: A Game Theorist’s Guide to Success in Business and Life“, dives deep into the practice of taking a course of action when you don’t have a lot of data vs. when you do have an appropriate amount data, how do you make decisions based on probability.
The growth of technology tailored specifically to businesses has allowed game theory to take center stage through the Internet. Content is a game in the sense that you present a piece of information that will directly affect your customers’ decision making in a way that only your organization controls. Hence, the large popularity and value that is created by a great PR firm.
When it comes to marketing and developing a content strategy, your biggest advantage is that there’s a blueprint for everything you want to do. Your main goal should be focused on creating a specific design tailored to your business. Not re-inventing the wheel.
So the next question is: How “exactly” do you produce the most optimal results when it comes to aligning your content strategy with your business goals. I like to use a three step process that can be applied across multiple marketing campaigns.
Let’s dive deeper below.
1. Persona Development
The whole idea behind content strategy is to create value. Developing online personas is an effective tool when trying to figure out who’s on the opposite end of that value. We all have heard the saying, ‘great leaders are great listeners’.
In this case, persona development is all about asking the right questions and finding the right answers. Once you have found the answers to those questions, then you can start creating content around your target audience. The most important factor for persona development is to tailor your content back to your business goals.
Depending on what your goal or objective may be, will determine how far you need to go when creating an effective content strategy.
Creating an online persona for your target audience should start with asking the right questions. Always remember online personas are in place to serve the people. Your online personas will be determined by where people are in the process and what type of service/product that you are providing. Lets go over some starter questions to begin with.
- Where/what do they eat?
- Where are they from? Local crowd or national crowd?
- Are they mobile or desktop users?
- Do they use tablets or iPads?
- How do they get from Point A to Point B? Public Transportation? Scooters? Personal vehicles?
- Do they cook or order take-out/delivery?
- Do they shop online or visit brick-and-mortar locations?
- Are they single? In a committed relationship?
- How do they spend their time?
- Are they students or professionals?
- How much money do they earn (on average) per year? Disposable income?
- What is the highest level of education?
To add your spin on persona development, just think about what your target audience CARES about? Then fine tune your approach.
It’s essential that you develop a deep connection to your online personas. This will allow you to dive deeper into who your ‘ideal’ customer may be. Going past demographics will help you place a greater emphasis on understanding your target audience.
As with technology, take the time to go over your online personas once every year to determine if they are still relevant to objectives, goals and your organization’s over content strategy.
2. Tie Personas To Revenue
Every — single — piece of content you have ever seen from a business has been tied to an objective. By design, content is used to achieve a number of goals. Whether it’s building a brand, beefing up an online community or building awareness around a recent product release.
Using content to support the sales cycle & buying process has always been the bread and butter of content marketing.
Always remember, customers are people and people are prospects. The goal is to transform those customers into brand ambassadors and regular purchasers of your product or service. The sales cycle can be defined as the amount of time spent trying to turn that ‘prospect’ into a repeat customer.
A major key to success is to understand where customers are within the sales cycle. This will allow you to leverage your content creation efforts in a way that influences the customer to make a decision that supports your business objectives.
Every customer is different, that is why relying on data to support your content creation and marketing automation efforts should be your primary focus (Creation + Distribution). For your content to be truly effective, it needs to do three things on a consistent basis:
All great sales cycles understand the customer’s needs and wants. It’s a science that must be worked into your content mix repeatedly. What does your business say? How does your products or services make your customers feel? Are they coming back for more?
3. Create A Online Journey Map
One of most notable philosophies from Simon Sinek is “Always Start With Why“. This concept is pertinent to online journey maps because of its deeply rooted foundation in human nature. When it comes to content strategy, starting with why can address a number of business goals.
Statistically speaking, most people make decisions based on why, such as:
- Why is this beneficial?
- Why is this the best choice?
- Why should I purchase this item?
- Why not?
The list can — literally — go on forever due to its innate relationship with self-interest. Creating a journey map for your online community can help you leverage that play on human nature. Once you have identified your target audience, developed your content creation process and created your online personas.
It’s time to strategically map out your journey maps in a way that makes sales process convenient for your target audience no matter where they are in the marketing funnel. You want to be able to address the needs of your target audience on every level when it comes to researching, making choices and providing an omnipresent value.
Creating journey maps can be broken down into three facets:
- Search & Gather Journey Maps
- Purpose Driven Journey Maps
- Interdependent Journey Maps
Creating an online journey maps for your business goes way farther than just social media and email. Your journey maps should include a mix of SEO, paid advertising and PR.
Having an idea about how your target audience consumes content daily can help your to better develop your journey maps. From gathering information, addressing needs and meeting people where they live. The main goal of content strategy is to help you set priorities around your business goals.
The best way to create value is knowing where value needs to be created. This can be achieved through research and a solid content strategy.