Planning Great Content for Your Business
During my Client Discovery Calls, I talk to business owners about their challenges when it comes to branding, content, and marketing. There are two responses that come up the most often:
Feeling like they are not doing a good job articulating their value proposition as a business, or not having clarity as a brand.
Not having a strategy or plan when it comes to how they are approaching content for their business.
Business owners understand that content is an integral component to building their brand (especially in the digital space), but underestimate the time, effort, and talent that typically goes into executing high-quality content that will drive leads and then convert to sales. Even with my corporate consulting clients, there is a bit of a disconnect between the resources they allocate for content efforts and the results that they expect to see from said content.
Step one is admitting that you have a problem. Once you acknowledge that what you are doing hasn't been working, you can set out to solve the problem. While no two content strategies are alike, here are some general recommendations to help you better understand content strategy for your business.
Understand Your Audience
Before you just start pumping out content for your business, you need to get organized. First, you have to understand your audience. Beyond just knowing their age and gender, it helps to build out as comprehensive a profile as you possibly can. One note: what's especially important during this process is identifying their pain points. Knowing the problem(s) they need solved will help you figure out how to communicate solutions to them.
Pick Your Content Pillars
Once you know who you are talking to, figure out the most effective and relevant topics to consistently write about for your business. This is how you not only communicate clearly with your audience, but also how you become a subject matter expert for your industry. These topics are known to as content pillars because they are the main themes that hold up your brand. The pillars should focus on the practicality of what you do as a business as well as your values/mission as a brand. Ideally, you'll have about 5-7 pillars for your brand.
Brainstorm Content Ideas
After you've identified the general themes you'll be writing about, start brainstorming potential content ideas that fall under each pillar or category. If you're not sure where to start, I'd recommend paying attention to questions that continue to pop up with potential customers or clients and creating content that answers those questions. If you're focused on SEO, brainstorm topics around search terms that you want to rank for (although I would never recommend this being your sole approach to content. You need to diversify beyond SEO). You can also create mission-driven content on topics you are passionate about as long as it's in alignment with your overall brand positioning.
Write It Out & Plan Ahead
Once you finalize the list of topics, it's time to start writing. I happen to outline content that I'm working on in my head before I start writing, but for most non-professional writers it helps to actually outline the piece on paper beforehand. When enough of your content has been written, or at least planned out, you can start scheduling it. Try to schedule about a month of content at a time in order to stay ahead of yourself, which comes in handy when business gets super busy. This will help prevent lapses in your posting schedule and allow you to see the bigger picture when it comes to the story you are telling with your content. If it seems like your content is all over the map, it's time to rethink your plan for that month.
One thing to note: be flexible when it comes to planning content. Leave room for new ideas in your schedule and don't shy away from talking about topical or trending topics that pop up just because you haven't worked it into your monthly plan.