Jump Into Content Marketing With a Plan for Success
With so many businesses turning to content marketing (blogs, newsletters, etc.) to build relationships, your clients are faced with a surfeit of information about your industry. You can receive this news with fear and trepidation, but I encourage you to look at it another way. Beginning a content marketing plan is an opportunity for you to offer your clients one trusted place where they can find exactly what they’re looking for.
How do you do this?
Here are some basic concepts that will help you begin your journey.
- Your Market
The first step is determining what your clients want and when they need it. Before you head out into any marketing plan, you should make sure you understand the audience you’re reaching out to. What information do they need? What piques their interest? What makes them yawn? Are they busy? How old are they and what words do they use to talk about their interests?
- Content Plan for Seasons, Holidays, and Industry Events
Is your industry dependent on the seasons? If you are a builder, you should be nodding yes to this question. Are you a bookseller? If you live in Vermont, foliage season is the time for selling autumn related gifts and books. In winter, people are more interested in skiing and snowshoeing books.
What about holidays? Which ones should you focus on? Which ones have no effect on your industry? This will depend on your readership.
The same is true of industry-specific events. If you are a bookseller and each year brings a big, local bookselling event, shouldn’t you be talking about it in your blog? If you want people to attend, you should!
Creating a content plan takes time, but is an essential part of your marketing effort. Create a plan that can be seen at a glance, with more detailed notes to plan out each phase/month/entry etc. of the year. Brainstorm ideas for content that your audience can use throughout the year and add to the list as you come up with other ideas.
Finally, create a production schedule that includes dates for drafts, revisions, and publication.
- Content Length and Appearance
You will hear a lot of opinions about content length, but the truth is that the most important element of your content marketing effort is the quality of the information presented. A long newsletter that offers nothing of value is going to flop while a short blog post packed with fascinating and timely tips is going to be shared, reposted, and savored. People don’t have a lot of time for reading boring content. They have all the time in the world to read content that enriches their lives, though.
How can you make it easier for your reader?
Here are a few suggestions:
- Break your paragraphs into small chunks. (Big blocks of text are scary.)
- Use images to break up text.
- Use bullets when possible to highlight important points.
- Bold and/or underline text to attract attention to certain words or ideas.
- Edit and Reevaluate
No matter who you are or how long you’ve been writing, you should always edit your work. Once you have a complete draft, set it down for a day, or for at least an hour, then print it out so that you can read it from a hard copy. In addition to reading from beginning to end, you might want to read your entry from end to beginning, to see it from another perspective. If possible, ask a friend or colleague to read the post before it goes up.
You may think that your initial thoughts are clear and error free, but we all stray from perfect sense at times, and typos (such simple errors to make) will destroy your reader’s trust in a flash.
Reevaluation should be a regular part of all of your marketing efforts. If you have a Google Analytics account, pay attention to what it is telling you. Also, pay attention to the feedback of your clients and friends. Read through your old posts periodically to see if you can make small changes that will make your posts infinitely more interesting.
Content marketing is a fun way to market and a relatively inexpensive option for smaller businesses, but it takes time to get it right. Don’t waste time and money by neglecting to plan for success. Do your research, spend time learning about your intended audience, write only what you think they will love, write easily accessible posts, and edit and reevaluate your plan to improve your efforts and reach a greater audience.