If you’re doing any kind of marketing in the digital world, I’m sure you’ve by now heard the term “content marketing.”
It’s everywhere, and for good reason; it works.
According to Content Marketing Institute, in their annual Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends research, around 9 out of every 10 marketers are using content marketing, regardless of the size of their company or what industry they’re in.
We hear a lot of business owners and entrepreneurs say
“I know I should be doing content marketing, but I don’t have clue where to start!” This is not only common, but also pretty understandable. You’ve got a lot going on, and a new way of marketing your business is one more thing you need to make time for, learn, dedicate resources to, etc.
If you’re in this boat, here’s where to start.
There are 3 key things you need to do to get started on your content marketing plan.
1. Clearly and concisely define your goals.
Just like with your business in general, if you don’t know where you’re going and what you’re trying to accomplish, you’re going to have a hard time doing it. When it comes to content marketing, you need to lay out your goals and clearly understand what you expect to gain from your efforts.
One of the most common goals with content marketing is building your email list, and rightfully so. Your email list is one of your most valuable tools. And content marketing is incredibly effective at not only building your list, but also guiding that list through your sales funnel.
Depending on what the path from website visitor to customer looks like, your goals will vary. Take the time to define what actions you want your audience to take and make sure all your content supports these goals.
2. Clearly define your audience.
You may have already done this when working on your other marketing efforts, but it never hurts to revisit and adjust as needed.
Your content marketing audience may not be the same as your buying audience. If your target audience is high-school students, but your product is something that requires a parent’s authorization, it may be a good idea to target some of your content to parents. So depending on your goals, you may need to define a few different audiences. This is why defining your goals comes first.
Once you have your goals defined, create your audience persona(s). Ask yourself these questions:
- Who is my audience? (Age, location, income, interests, likes, dislikes, etc)
- What do they do on a daily basis? (habits, buying routines, decision making routines, etc)
- What are their needs, their challenges, etc. (Make sure this is about what they need, not why they should use your product/service.)
- What is important to them? (Hint: It’s not you, your business, or your products/services.)
This is not always easy, and that’s okay. Your persona will most likely not be perfect, and it doesn’t need to be. It just needs to be detailed, so you know what content needs to be created.
Here are some awesome resources to help you with building your audience persona.
Buffer also did a great blog with a easy-to-use guide to marketing personas.
3. Create a clear and specific mission statement.
You need to know where you’re going and why. You need to know what your business’s mission is. Understanding why you’re creating content and what you’re trying to accomplish will make the creation process much more efficient.
There are thousands of resources out there to help with writing a mission statement, but I’ve always believed simple is best. Keep it short and concise. Just a few sentences. Simply write down what value you’re going to provide and why.
At ENI Multimedia/TrepsUnite, one of our biggest goals is building our email list so we can deliver valuable content and resources to more businesses. We also don’t like the word “client.” We think of all our “clients” as partners. We partner with them to meet their goals. We’ll never claim to be perfect, nor will we ever assume we’ve got all the right answers for any of our partners. But we do know we have a lot of value to offer them. And we’ve come to understand that working together is not only more effective, but it’s a lot more fun as well.
From this thought process, we came up with the following mission statement:
We partner with businesses and work together to create and execute effective online marketing strategies. Every project is unique, and every project is equal, regardless of budget or industry. We educate, inspire, and work with our partners to clearly define, and efficiently achieve their goals, which become our goals.
So now, anytime we need to think of new content to create, we ask ourselves:
- Will this help our partners (or future partners) create and execute effective online marketing strategies?
- Does this piece of content assist business owners in achieving their goals?
- Will business owners find this content valuable enough to join our email list?
- Will this help us continue to build a wealth of resources to share with potential business owners, so they might look to us in the future and become a partner of ours?
Based on your mission statement, you’ll come up with your own questions to ask about the content you create, and the majority of that content should fall into the “yes” column of these questions. Although every piece may not hit on all of them, everything you create needs to stay inline with your mission.
Obviously, there is quite a bit more to creating your content marketing strategy. These 3 initial steps are the foundation for the remainder of your strategy. Next, you should work with your team to create a content strategy. Your content strategy is different than your content marketing strategy.
- Your content marketing strategy is how you’re going to tell your brand’s story and encourage action that leads to sales.
- Your content strategy is all about how you’re going to create, publish, and share your content.
Both are equally important, and the next steps for your business.