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  • Writer's pictureHilary Young

Content Strategy Basics: Make Your Content Work For You

Let me lay out a little scenario for you: you’ve been running the marketing for your own business for the past few years, but coming up with new content ideas is burning you out. You’re starting to dread focusing on marketing at all, and as a result, your efforts have fallen by the wayside. Perhaps you only feel inspired to create something new when you see your competitors post a great piece of content.

Or, perhaps your marketing team has been tasked with generating leads for your sales team, and that’s been the sole focus for the past few years. Every time you try to get organized and put a plan in place, there’s always another fire to put out and it seems impossible to get off the hamster wheel and get ahead.

Regardless of how big your business is, the problem remains the same: you have no content strategy in place.

Why You Need a Content Strategy

A content strategy allows you to stay focused on specific goals your business wants to achieve and helps you put a plan in place so you can stop working harder and start working smarter. Without a clear plan of action, you end up sharing content because you feel that you “have to” in order to compete, but you don’t see much of a return on your investment (and you will probably start to resent the content part of marketing altogether).

Having a content strategy gives greater purpose to the time spent on creating content; instead of staying on that hamster wheel, a content strategy provides you with a roadmap for how to leverage your content efforts to achieve bigger brand goals. There can and should be different layers of your strategy, taking into account the various marketing funnels and customer touchpoints with your brand. With a content strategy in place, every piece of content you will work on will help you either grow your brand awareness, create deeper connections with your ideal audience(s), and increase your lead generation or sales.

Elements of a Solid Content Strategy

There are many different ways to approach a content strategy, but all of them will involve the same four key components: measurable goals, understanding your audience segment(s), defining your pillars of content, and crafting channel-specific plans for how to put your plan in motion. Here’s what you should know about each:

  1. Identify Measurable Goals: What are you trying to achieve with your content? Is it building your email list? Improving your lead generation numbers? Increasing your sales by 20 percent? No matter what you want to work towards as a business, make sure that you have ways to connect your content efforts to those results. If your goal is to build brand awareness, the metric to consider in terms of success would be the number of impressions on your social media advertisements or the number of followers on your IG account. And if your goal is to generate more leads, the metric to watch would be how many people provided their information when downloading a lead magnet from your website.

  2. Understand Your Audience: I’m not just talking about breaking down the demographic information for your target audience, I’m also talking about listing out their emotional needs and psychological motivations. Knowing your audience is a key component to any content strategy and essential to its success. Take the time to really put yourself in the shoes of your ideal customer and think about what their life is like–what are they worrying about? What do they need help with? What are their challenges and struggles? The answers will determine how your content can provide them with the most value.

  3. Define Your Pillars of Content: Content pillars are broad topics that you want your brand to be known for or associated with. The majority of your pillars should relate to your business and your product or services, but you can also pick pillars that highlight your brand values. Think of content pillars as big buckets and lots of smaller, relevant topics can be placed inside them. You’ll want to choose between 4-7 pillars for maximum impact. All of them should showcase your expertise and mirror your brand strategy.

  4. Pick Your Channels: There are a lot of options to choose from (ie: email, social media platforms, content marketing efforts, etc.), but start with identifying the ones that will provide the best ROI based on your target audience. Start by revisiting your audience breakdown and determine the best methods to reach your ideal clients.

Make Your Content Work For You

When all of the content you create can be tied back to business goals, it will help you keep moving forward instead of just spinning your wheels. Once you know what you want to say and where you want to say it, customize it to fit each specific channel.

Pay attention to your data over time. I like to check in on how content is performing about once a quarter. In particular, examine how your target audience engaged with certain topics and pieces of content. You can use a variety of metrics to determine whether content was successful or not, but abandon anything that’s really not working and aim to replace it with a topic that was well received.

The secret to great content creation is really simple: get to know your audience and create content that is appealing, educational, and valuable to them in some way. The more you can get an audience to connect with your brand, the more likely they are to take specific actions with you. And this, in turn, will get you one step closer to achieving those goals.

If you need a little extra help with your content strategy, join my email list to receive my FREE Content Strategy 101 Worksheet.


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