Imagine yourself blindfolded, standing in a dark room and throwing darts at a dartboard. Your chances of hitting a bullseye—much less the dartboard—are slim. You might get lucky and eventually connect, but who has time for trial-and-error tactics?
When you share content without marketing plan, you’re aimlessly tossing ideas and tactics at the wall, hoping something sticks.
I recently asked the members of my private Facebook Group The Content Cure (click link to join) to name their biggest challenges when it comes to creating a content marketing plan.
They posted a number of responses, but the most common one was: “I don’t know where do I start? I need a marketing checklist … a process … a blueprint!”
WHAT YOU NEED IS A PLAN
Before we dive into creating a foundational marketing plan, I want you to consider the most important element of marketing: building a loyal audience.
Yes, I know you’ve heard this before. But it’s worth repeating: Building relationships with an engaged list of VIP followers should be your No. 1 priority.
Your list is the velvet-rope area for your VIPs. It’s where the people who have taken the initiative to follow you are gathered so you can offer them your premium content. They gave you their names because they want to know more about you and what you do. These are the people who will most likely convert from being casual content consumers to paying customers.
Start by figuring out where you want to be. Decide on the results you want, then work your way backward to square one. Then, answer these questions:
- Where does your offer overlap with your audience’s biggest needs, fears, and challenges?
- What information and solutions do you provide that fall inside that overlap?
- How much time will you set aside for content creation?
- What does your publication schedule look like?
- Which social media channels will you use to distribute your content?
- How often will you update the channels you choose?
- How will you know if your efforts are successful?
Knowing the answers to these questions before you begin is crucial. However, the good news is that nothing is locked in forever. You can easily adapt your plan as needed if you find something isn’t working. The goal is to create a framework that you will actually use and stick with. Otherwise, it’s no good to you.
SERVE BEFORE YOU SELL
After you create your content, you have to share it far and wide. And you must be consistent. Hit-or-miss marketing is ineffective and won’t build trust with your VIPs. Remember, people are often looking for answers to questions they don’t even know they’re asking. That’s why knowing your best-match customer’s pain points is so important.
The type of content you create is up to you. If video is your jam, then focus on that instead of writing copy. Regardless of whether you write posts, record podcasts, do webinars, or send out email campaigns, the key is to show up regularly with valuable tools and information. Be original and don’t mimic what everyone else is doing. Take the time to consider what YOUR audience needs and give it to them regularly.
Note: Building a cache of content takes time. Brian Clark, the founder and genius behind Copyblogger, spent more than 18 months creating content and establishing himself as an authority in his niche. Before he ever made his first offer, he focused his energy on building an audience and boosting his credibility.
One of the best ways I’ve found to serve my audience is to provide rich, value-added blog content. It’s where I always start.
Your blog is an ideal place to start. If writer’s block keeps you from posting regularly on your blog, try this tool to find inspiration: 5 blogging Cheat Sheets.
BE SOCIABLE ON SOCIAL MEDIA
If the people you are trying to reach can’t find your content, it’s not doing them—or you—any good. That’s why you need to choose three to five sharing channels that you will consistently use to distribute your content. And don’t be a one hit wonder who drops an update but never shows up again. Remember, social newsfeeds update constantly. So don’t be afraid to share your updates at different times of day, several times a week. If you only share once, your posts will be nothing more than a quick splash in a sea of updates on their newsfeeds.
Finally, you don’t have to be active on EVERY social media platform out there. That burns up way too much time, energy, and effort. Focus on a few and show up there with the intention to serve. Make your goal to be consistently present, real, and engaging on the platforms you select.
MEASURE TO BE SURE
This is the step that most people forget about (or ignore because numbers are intimidating). But, I encourage you to drill down into your analytics or hire someone to help you.
Evaluating your results helps you recognize the parts of your plan that serve you best and reveal where you should invest more time and money. For example, if your reports show that Instagram brings you stellar numbers, you might consider investing in an ad to attract even more Instagram users to your content.
Here’s the big takeaway: Creating content is an on-going job for an entrepreneur. It requires time, patience, and commitment to get results. But when you take time to plan out and build a repeatable system, you can slowly increase your reach, boost your list numbers, and position your brand.
P.S. If you want to talk to me one-on-one about building foundational marketing plan, you should consider my $97 Copy Clinic Coaching Call. You get one hour of my undivided attention to answer your questions and help you with your biggest copy challenges. It’s the best $97 you’ll spend on content marketing.