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We are living in the “Attention Era” of the Internet and it pays to be at the top of a consumer’s mind. With paid advertising becoming a piece of the pie and not just the whole. Content marketing is still considered to be a fairly new concept when it comes to building an online community.
To break it all the way down, think about it like this: content marketing isn’t just about sharing what your interested in or giving away your company’s best secrets. It’s about positioning your brand as someone who’s willing to share that information to the masses.
The psychological effect behind content marketing has a major pay off. If you can develop a voice in a niche topic, people will always come to you to solve problems or address their needs. Overtime, they will begin to view you as a reliable source of information. Effectively utilizing content marketing begins with knowing the pressure points of your customers. Do they want to achieve a specific goal? Do they need help addressing an issue?
Your job is to merge the gap between your business, content and your customer’s pressure points.
This is why recipe blogs and cooking shows are so popular. They provide a release valve for pressure points, with a proven customer cycle and a effective approach to content marketing. At it’s base level you know the customer’s interests: food; the customer’s need: saving time/money and how to satisfy the customer: creating value (learning)/experience (entertainment).
When you understand the pressure points of your ideal customer you can create a routine around addressing those needs, solving problems and creating value. A content marketing routine will put you in a situation to create conversations and provide the tools you need to measure the value being created. Content marketing is a cost-effective online journey, given that if you want to change direction or improve upon your current experiment, it’s possible (without breaking a significant commitment).
This is essential because it allows your business to allocate time, while using capital to take a more lean approach to paid advertising (Increasing reach & traffic). You have the means and the access to do so without having to withdraw or waste a substantial investment. On the other end of the spectrum this allows you to improve your odds of success when you do decide to invest in paid advertising because you already know what works and what doesn’t.
This is a valuable piece of the process and can not be skipped.
Content marketing can be a vehicle that can take you to many destinations. If your goal is to increase word-of-mouth or even improve upon your messaging, content marketing is your best option.
How To Develop A Routine
The key to developing a routine is to start small. The phrase I like to use is: “Build Local, Think Global”. There will always be room for expansion in the future. The key is to start with a small sample size that is manageable and develop your approach as you go. Content provides the time to get every facet of your organization in position to scale up and fast. Identify an attainable business objective, calculate the result and reverse engineer a plan to meet that need.
Plan + Execution = Result
In the beginning stages of your routine, focus solely on execution. Two of the biggest factors in developing a content marketing routine is production and consistency. It’s simple logic, you can increase your odds of success by increasing the frequency of your actions.
Gathering leads using content marketing can be approached in two ways: “locked” or “unlocked” content. Depending on your business, your “locked” content could be anything from a free PDF/eBook to keeping your premium content behind a paywall vs. free content that is provided on your website.
LOCKED: This is one of the most utilized concepts across the Internet. In order to gain access to the content, a person would need to provide an email, phone number or some form of information in exchange for a “Free” guide or PDF. This is a great way to invite prospects into your customer cycle and opt-in for future newsletters. Once they have provided information they are considered a lead and can be nurtured along the customer journey.
UNLOCKED: I would consider this approach to be more data focused. Offering “unlocked” content depends on the type of business that you’re in. For example most music businesses are categorized as “unlocked” content. Why? Because the the most important conversions happen through ticket sales and merchandise purchases. Where the customer cycle can being a fairly low entry point (given that most people are providing some form of information during purchases). If you’re in the business of providing information, there needs to a be a mechanism in place to collect data and analyze user behavior.
What Is The “1 Over 1” Approach?
How often do you post content? With content marketing being all about frequency and creating a routine. I like to use the term “1 Over 1” Why? Because when you break down your content marketing routine into habits, you are more likely to accomplish your goals and will have a “bird’s eye view” of your upcoming year. For example, you’ll be publishing lighter content daily and distributing the heavier content yearly.
The “1 Over 1” approach will allow you to plan out your moves accordingly and be prepared for any adjustments. Let’s break it down.
- One: Daily content – In my experience, Twitter is most effective for daily content. This could be Tweeting, engaging with others and sharing content that produces value.
- Seven: Weekly content – Blog posts are great for weekly updates. Using Facebook to manage your online community can also help boost SEO and traffic to your website.
- Thirty: Monthly content – Now, we’re getting more into heavier content such as newsletters, videos, interviews, podcasts, etc. You preferably want to use this category to produce content and stretch it out (quarterly). Executing Facebook advertising monthly is also a great way to reach customers without bombarding them on a weekly basis.
- Four: Quarterly content – Depending on your business this is a great opportunity to get creative using White Papers and eBooks. This is a prime opportunity to decide if your business should utilize locked or unlocked content. White Papers and eBooks are a great entry point for managing leads.
- Two: Bi-Yearly content – This is one of my favorites when it comes to developing your content marketing routine. Bi-yearly content should consist of guest speaking at conferences or doing small in-person events. As an entrepreneur and community leader, I believe that every business owner should be their #1 advocate. Whether that be empowering others or providing the tools that produce ultimately value. Conference and in-person events are a great way to reach out and touch the people that your business serves year round.
- One: Yearly content – One of the heaviest pieces of content for your routine should be yearly content. This can be a total mash up of your year in review. Depending on your business, you give your company’s best performers bonuses. Some companies achieve this through galas or retreats. Hosting or sponsoring your own conference is also a great way to finish off the year.
Why Are Identity Pillars & Messaging Architecture Important?
The key to a developing a routine with content marketing is identifying your identity pillars and cultivating your messaging architecture. Who are you and how will you present who you are?
For example my identity pillars are rooted in the following:
- Helping people create VALUE.
- Helping people improve their PRODUCTIVITY.
- Helping people learn how to use the power of CONSISTENCY.
- Teaching others how to build LEVERAGE using the Internet.
Identifying these identity pillars for your business or brand will put in a position to create content around your messaging architecture. Prioritizing your messaging architecture is essential for every business. Why? It’s important to know what you want to say, what’s even more important is knowing when to say it.
A messaging architecture is an outline of how you want to communicate your brand’s top characteristics to your target audience. This includes prioritizing your business objectives with your content marketing efforts to form one clear message within your content. No matter the size of your business, your content should have a focus. Whether it be growing an online community, recruiting your content dream team or increasing brand affinity.
To go further lets take a look at an example editorial calendar.
Planning out your year using an editorial calendar allows you to refine your content marketing routine. This lifts any pressure off of creating content because you will be able to adjust accordingly. Having a birds’s eye view of your content presents an opportunity for reflection and analysis. This will allow you to combine your business objectives with your content marketing efforts. Automatically, putting you in a position to measure your results online and offline.
If you further study the editorial calendar above, every identity pillar has a purpose that backs up the messaging architecture and pin points a time period for executing this initiative. Applying this method to your routine will allow you to choose the best content formats that speak to your business objectives. Editorial calendars are also a great way to tax plan for content creation and paid advertising. Effectively putting you in a position to fit everything within your budget.
The last part of your content marketing routine is building out a customer cycle. Depending on your business, these objectives should be the “results” of your content marketing routine.
|Engage with Prospect||Follow/Subscribe/Download Content|
|Provide Value||Customer takes actionable steps using your information|
|Secure Trust||Becomes reliable source of information|
|Prospect Reaches Out||Customer reaches out about “how to” or “personalized services”|
|Conversion Completed||Customer purchases product or services|
|Water Your Plants||Repeat the process to ensure growth|
After you’ve completed the above steps there are just three more things you need to do before beginning your content marketing routine.
- ESTABLISH EXPECTATATIONS: Content marketing is all about long term growth. Once you have developed a routine you’ll be able to pick up the pace and execute paid advertising. With the tools available today, the best path to take is building out an online community around your business.
- IDENTIFY BUSINESS OBJECTIVES & RESOURCES: Who will be a part of your content dream team? Will your content marketing efforts push you towards your business goals? This is where you need to apply a vision. What does the perfect customer look like? What do you want to accomplish throughout the year?
- MEASURE, MEASURE, MEASURE: anything that can be measured can be improved. It’s important to keep track of your progress. This will allow you to improve your content marketing routine and be in position to scale up when necessary.
Most importantly, your content marketing routine will be influenced by the people consuming your content. THEY will determine the content formats, the channels and the means of communication. YOUR part will involve creating the identity pillars and messaging architecture around your brand.
How can you engage your audience and present what you do?
While simultaneously creating value, solving problems and building leverage.
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