When it comes to content marketing, strategy and tactics are two different things.
Developing your content strategy requires a different focus than tactics.
There are many techniques business owners use to share content that really works, such as blogging, podcasting, email marketing, Facebook Live, Instastories, and YouTube.
However, many haven't seen the desired results from their efforts, become disillusioned with content marketing and give up on it.
Developing your content strategy involves more than just creating and throwing a bunch of content at your target audience.
Every business I work with is as different as can be (from a woman who teaches executives how to become powerful influencers inside their organizations, to a sales rep working in the medical device industry), and I begin every Strategy Session with three fundamental questions.
Those answers guide me as I craft a big-picture strategy to help them achieve the results they desire, and they can help you do the same.
Questions 1: What do you want to achieve?
Your goals determine everything, and as Stephen Covey said in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, "begin with the end in mind."
Based on my clients' responses when I inquire about content marketing objectives, I determine my suggestions and approach.
The strategy is determined by the goal.
More often than you might guess, my clients are not sure what they want their content to accomplish.
I recently asked a client "what do you want to achieve?" and her primary goal was to maintain her presence on LinkedIn by posting daily so that her training and coaching practice appears current and relevant to her connections.
Digging deeper, she told me that she's trying to scale her business by launching an online course in 2023. A big read warning light went off inside my head because she didn't realize that instead of waiting until six weeks before the launch of her online course to raise interest in it, she could begin immediately to attract customers for her course.
When developing your content strategy, it can be difficult to determine how content will help achieve your business objectives, but if you know your objective, we can devise a content strategy to help you achieve it.
In order to begin every Strategy Session, I ask "What do you want to achieve?" and only move forward when we have a SMARTER goal.
And that leads to...
Question 2: How do you plan to monitor your performance?
I'm not generally a numbers person. I'd much rather spend my time writing content. I was terrible at math in school, in fact in grade 10 my math teacher had to spend lunch hours trying to help me grasp algebra and geometry. And even with his help (bless him) I still almost failed the class.
However, when you learn to use numbers to achieve your business goals faster, you realize that it's not as challenging as it seems. But, focusing on the right numbers is the key if you want them to work, because the wrong numbers can make things worse.
Let's use an example to help you understand what I'm referring to.
Imagine you develop a content strategy to increase downloads of your podcast. You create a strategy and plan, and your podcast downloads go through the roof. You're all smiles!
The plan you devised for your podcast succeeded!
But you're focused on the wrong metrics, because...
You then decide to launch your online course and it's an utter failure because you don't have enough new leads to purchase your course.
And so your sales goal falls flat on its face. 🙁
If the key business goal was selling your online course, then you shouldn't have been tracking podcast downloads because they don't make sales for you.
This is exactly the type of thing that solopreneurs and small businesses face all the time.
When developing your content strategy, you must focus on the right numbers. Comments, likes, shares, and downloads of your podcast don't mean sales of your online course.
I'm sure you've experienced this yourself when a post you wrote got a lot of likes and comments, but you didn't enjoy any increase in leads or sales.
This is the reason why so many people become frustrated with blogging and content marketing; they're monitoring the wrong performance metrics to achieve their objectives.
So, identifying the client's objectives is key when I run a strategy session and then deciding how we plan to monitor their performance is vital so we know whether progress is being made or not.
Question 3: How do you plan to get there?
Once I figure out the answers to Questions 1 and 2, the fun begins.
I get excited when my brain starts to flow with ideas and we begin developing a plan to get the business closer to its objectives.
However, the strategy depends on the answers to the first two questions, because building an effective strategy for clients is impossible without them.
Every strategy is unique, so every strategy requires a different approach.
- If they want to sell something in a few weeks, my ideas will be different than if they want to sell something in a few months.
- If the goal is to get people on a phone call, the strategy we use will be different than trying to get people on a webinar.
- Selling high-end consulting services at $1,000 per hour requires a much different strategy than selling a drip email course for $59.00.
And what works this year may not work for you or your clients next year.
You've got to be reading and willing to adjust both your strategy and tactics.
Whereas growing an email list in order to drive sales and increase revenue might be just what your client needs now, by next year he or she may want to achieve a completely different goal.
For example, getting a flagship online program off the ground and selling spots to make a nice profit may be a great objective for your client, but having to constantly launch courses can be exhausting and many coaches and consultants end up burned out from all of the work involved.
This leads many entrepreneurs to decide that providing high-end consulting services is a better option, but that requires a much different strategy than launching a course does.
And that means developing your content strategy requires pivoting, which there's nothing wrong with as long as you and your clients are clear on the objectives you both want to achieve.
Just remember, when your plan and strategy changes, you're also going to need to change the performance metrics you're using for you and your client.
You're building bridges.
A great way to think about your content marketing is like building a bridge to take your customers from where they are to where they want to be, with each piece of content being like a section of the bridge.
The frequency and spacing of your content sections must be just right or your customers will disappear and you'll never see them again.
Too many business owners are creating and delivering content without thinking about whether it actually helps prospects to become customers.
Although long articles, short articles, blog posts, podcasts, YouTube videos, live streams, TikTok videos, and Instagram posts may appeal to your customers, they can also distract them from what's really important for achieving their business objectives.
All of these social media "assets" can become time, energy, and money wasters because there are too many platforms and trends to follow. In fact, we're drowning in them and a lot of business owners and entrepreneurs are not aligning their content marketing strategy with their goals.
Creating a content strategy that has a real impact on your business is possible when you choose the right content and place it on the right platform at the right time.
- get really clear on what you want to achieve through your content - "begin with the end in mind."
- how are you going to monitor your performance? What metrics do you need to watch and measure.
- how to you plan to get there? What's your map for arriving at your desired destination?
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