I worked for several years as a writer for various marketing and PR agencies, which gave me the confidence to go it alone as a freelance copywriter. And one of the biggest issues my clients faced was how to turn their execs’ ideas into marketing campaigns / content.
One of the most interesting issues I dealt with when working in a content marketing agency, was how to go about taking companies’ ideas and products and transform them into engaging content.
Every company wants to publish some form of content, be it blogs or case studies promoting the great work they’ve done for customers through to more meaty information like whitepapers and research reports.
For some businesses, this is easy: they’re overloaded with great data and stories and the biggest issue they face is choosing which ones to tell the world about. But for most companies, knowing what content they need, what it looks like, what format it should be in and how it portrays them as a business is really difficult.
It’s therefore vitally important to have a strategy in place to ensure the content you create is relevant to your current and prospective customers, interesting to the reader and, ideally, says something new.
The best example I remember of this from my days at the marketing agency was a new client that had vast expertise in its field of business — we’re talking more than two decades of selling their technology product. The company had produced some blog content, but it wasn’t focused or targeted enough to attract potential customers. So they turned to us to devise a content plan that encapsulated what they were about as a brand and was compelling enough to attract potential new customers. Together, we developed a strategy that would help to fuel their content pipeline for months to come, from blogs and social posts to videos and webinars.
Based on this experience, here’s a 7-step guide that can help you go from having nothing to devising a basic content plan.
1. Understand your audience
This sounds simplistic, but it’s a fundamental first step in creating any content plan. For example, the first task we carried out with our client was to hold a workshop in which our marketing team and content creators sat down with their key execs and product managers. This helped us to gain an understanding of who their target customers actually were and the job roles they wanted to target. Spoiler: It wasn’t restricted to the businesses or job roles they thought!
You may think you already know this information, but going through the process is vital to establishing the type of content assets you’ll create. You may also discover some surprising results when it comes to who your potential customers are and the kind of content that will appeal to them.
2. Identify your targets’ pain points
It’s all too easy — and painfully common — for businesses to talk about their strengths, especially when it comes to technology vendors. But the reality is that no-one’s interested in reading about how great your new product is, regardless of how innovative, cutting-edge or unique you may believe it is.
Instead, you need to consider the key issues facing your target customers, the pain points they are suffering, and how your technology or product solves them.
You should consider why businesses would come to you to solve these problems, how you can make their lives easier, and what you can do for them that they couldn’t do or don’t want to do for themselves. Beyond that, identify whether there are industry-wide issues blighting businesses that YOU are best positioned to resolve.
3. Map out your messaging
Anyone who’s ever been for a job interview will understand how difficult it can be to talk about yourself. Convert that into a business environment and it can be a really tough task to succinctly put into words how you want to be perceived by prospects.
But this is, of course, a really important stage in the process. Nailing down how you want your organisation to be perceived is vital to establishing a tone of voice for your brand. This begins with composing statements that define what you stand for, a company mission and vision, and the unique value propositions that truly define how your organisation stands out from the rest.
It’s also important to map out what you’re looking to achieve with your content; be it for thought leadership opportunities, showcasing your brand’s expertise, attracting new staff or simply educating people on an interesting topic.
4. Content formats
With your messaging done and dusted, the next big decision is how you want it to be presented. It’s not simply a case of thinking “blogs are quick and easy, let’s pump out some blogs,” but rather considering what kind of content best connects with the people you want to target.
It’s key to formulate a strategy that will help you achieve this. For example, with our client, we devised a few different blog topics that branched out from a longer-form piece of content. The longer item — typically an infopaper, guide or whitepaper — contained deeper practical, actionable advice towards which the blog laid a trail of breadcrumbs. And, ideally, creating several blogs, videos and social content all leading to one bigger piece of content should increase awareness, downloads, views and interest in your brand.
5. Consider your competitors
Auditing your competitors’ content and analysing what they’re saying isn’t cheating. In fact, it’s really important to understanding opportunities for your content, identifying trends in the marketplace and understanding what good content looks like.
Look at what your competitors are doing well and identify any gaps in their messages. Also consider the language they’re using, content formats they are or are not using, and topics they aren’t covering — and capitalise on it.
6. Get writing
Before you put pen to paper — or rather, fingertips to keyboard — it’s really helpful to map out what content you want to create, and when and how you’re going to publish it.
Furthermore, it’s important to have the foundations in place, so you need to consider where your content is going to be hosted, how you’re going to share it, how you’re going to raise peoples’ awareness of it, how it’s going to be presented. You may then need to create landing pages, social posts to promote it and even a tool to manage your social and email marketing campaigns.
Suddenly, smashing out that 500-word blog post and hitting publish looks a whole lot more complicated, doesn’t it?
7. Consider your style
Now you’re ready to go, it’s time to bring your ideas to life. But creating the content is usually easier said than done. It can take a while to fine-tune your style to ensure you’re speaking to your audience in a manner that appeals to them and reflects your desired brand voice.
The first draft is very rarely the final draft, so don’t be afraid of trial and error, tweaking messages and trying new ideas. However, the old adage of “too many cooks can spoil the broth” very much applies to content creation. You therefore need to ensure there aren’t too many stakeholders bringing different ideas to the table and establish brand messaging that defines what you want your content to say and achieve.
Are you ready to embark on your content journey? Get in touch to discover how we can help!