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How to plan your content marketing

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Tips and ideas to inspire your content and keep it running through the year


Websites, blogs and newsletters can be demanding things - no sooner than you’ve created them they are staring right back at you asking to be filled with interesting content.

If you are struggling to keep your content fresh and engaging - I know how you feel - we are all looking after our clients and customers. Creating our own content is often on the marketing ‘to-do’ list - but it’s easy to let things slip. However, it's worth giving this some focus - content marketing demonstrates your value, builds great customer relationships and can speed up the sales process - particularly for those more considered purchases.

So, now that 2016 is underway I’ve made a resolution to create something that I hope will be as much help to you as it will be to me - tips and ideas to inspire your content and keep it running through the year. 

A little focus will save a lot of time

Creating content can be time consuming so, before you start, it pays so ask yourself what you want to achieve. What are your goals? To build awareness, create more leads, add value for your existing clients? Knowing your goals in advance will focus your content and make it far more likely to reach and help your target audience (more about them later).

Your goals can be varied - for example in my case I write largely to build awareness of what I do. Most marketing consultants will advise on strategy - but I also create marketing content which can be an additional help for my clients. It’s something I’ve found they value highly as many are just too busy or don’t consider themselves as natural writers. By writing my own blog my aim is to share useful content my readers might find helpful - and showcase my own writing style. They may even share my articles if they think others would benefit too.

But marketing content isn’t just for attracting new customers. You could (and should) also write for your existing customers, to build more loyalty, deepen relationships and keep demonstrating the value you bring. So don’t forget to ask them what they’d like to know more about - it’s a great way to keep in touch and everyone likes to feel their opinion is valued.

Content that attracts your ideal customers

Who would you like to work with? What does your ideal customer look like? If you aren’t sure or you race ahead with content that appeals to the wrong kind of customer, you might attract work that doesn’t really match your strengths. So it’s worth the time to focus on what you do best, can deliver with confidence and really want to sell. If your content attracts the majority of the right kind of work, your business will be in much better shape.

To do this you’ll need to think clearly about your ideal customer or target audience. For example, what challenges do they struggle with? Why would they need your help? What is it about your product or service that they are likely to value the most? What does their customer journey look like and what are they likely to need to know (and ask) at each stage before purchase?

Knowing this will shape your content so it becomes more relevant, wins their confidence, builds their trust and ultimately gets a positive response.

"Your content should not be a library of everything. It has to clearly focus on the challenges you can solve."

Sonja Jefferson and Sharon Tanton, authors of Valuable Content Marketing

Some content ideas across the year...

No one knows what the year ahead will bring. There will be opportunities to react to news that has yet to happen and turn that into great topical marketing content - but we also need to have a degree of planning across the year to remain consistently visible. Here are some of my favourite ideas:

Develop a themed campaign

Is there a topic that you can keep coming back to? Can you write about one thing in more depth each month - and in a way that your audience will want to follow? Perhaps something too great for one article or a story that will be developing across the year. Think about a series of articles that will keep you in front of your customers. I could write about content marketing each month - what would work for your market?

Simplify a need to know topic

What would help your audience understand something better? For example, I work with clients in complex markets where legislation changes have the potential to confuse their customers - so we write about the essential ‘need to know’ facts. It saves their customers time and positions my clients as experts in their field.

Case studies

Case studies are great for inspiring confidence that your business delivers successful solutions to your customers. What’s more, they describe what you do in far more interesting ways than your list of services ever can. I write all the case studies for the Watertight Marketing site and if my experiences are anything to go by - clients enjoy being featured and have great stories to tell.

“Case studies are everything, everyone likes a story. Tell people the story, how your business solved their problem and what the result was.”

Mike Southon, entrepreneur and author of The Beermat Entrepreneur

Preview trade shows

Is there a trade show coming up in your market? Do you want to be seen by businesses that are going to be attending? Trade shows often publish their agendas in advance - giving you the opportunity to create content that matches the topics - which usually reflect new developments. What’s more, most shows have a Twitter account so you can tweet your content using their hashtag.

Ego rub articles

Is there an influential person you want to reach? Perhaps the CEO of a major prospect, or head of a public body. They are virtually impossible to contact but, have they got a view on something that you can comment on - or embellish in an article? Writing about Richard Branson’s space programme might not get your product on-board Virgin Galactic but you never know...

Seasonality

Seasonality is the great friend of content creation. There are things that happen each month from Valentine's Day in February right through to Christmas itself. And not forgetting the summer - which has the golden goose of the 2016 Olympics this year. Has your business got an angle on any seasonal events?

The A to Z of content marketing ideas

There are lots of reasons to create great content - but if you’re going to get your content to pay you back you’ll need to make a commitment to adding it on a regular basis. Fortunately, if you are stuck for ideas, this handy guide from Watertight Marketing will give you 140 content marketing themes, topics and thought starters.

"Whether the decision takes six minutes, six days, six months, or even years… your content can give you a reason to stay in touch, and your buyers reasons to get in touch with you."

Bryony Thomas, author of Watertight Marketing

Further reading

This article is just a glimpse into the world of creating content and understanding your target customer. If you’d like to know more about this very current marketing topic, I recommend reading a new book, Valuable Content Marketing (2nd Edition) by Sonja Jefferson and Sharon Tanton.

I hope these suggestions will give you ideas to create engaging content across the year and turn your hard work into real revenue. If you would to chat about any of them, please get in touch.

 

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