Coming up with an idea is the easy part. But it’s only one small piece of the pie.
The biggest challenge is often taking that brilliant concept and turning it into content.
You’ve been there. I know you have, because we all have. You get a brilliant, game-changing idea for a piece of content that will shoot you (and your company) into content-marketing superstardom.
Your audience will go crazy for it! Sales will skyrocket! Your boss will give you a raise!
And then the wheels start moving. Different team members get involved. Some details are overlooked. The content is created, but it’s not exactly on point; it just doesn’t quite flourish.
There are a lot of reasons for why a once-seemingly-great idea can turn out to be a flop, one thing is for sure:
Going from ideation to creation to delivering results is rarely as easy as it should be.
But you can fix that. You can keep up your momentum, and keep you and your team moving forward confidently toward content creation success.
You just need to take that nugget of brilliance and create a strategy to take it from concept to alignment then to content.
Here are the 9 key things you need in your content strategy to keep quality content flowing.
1. A Content Marketing Goal
Think about your major content marketing goals right now. How does this piece of content align with one (or more) of those goals?
This might seem obvious, but people often overlook this in their excitement about an idea.
Keep a list handy – put a sticky note on your monitor if you need to – of your content marketing goals. Consider lead generation, brand awareness, thought leadership, customer retention, etc.
Now, line up your new content idea with one of those goals, and make sure your team is on the same page about what your desired outcome is.
Will this content appeal to your target audience?
Pull up your target buyer persona and look at where they are in the buying cycle. Make sure this content’s subject, tone, and style will resonate with the target buyer where they’re at.
Take a look at the content you’ve previously created for that stage of the buying cycle. What worked? What didn’t?
Based on your success history, does this new piece of content have a good chance of being successful? Or are you making the same mistakes you’ve made before?
3. The Value of the Content
Any successful piece of content, no matter where it falls in the buying cycle, will have value to your audience. It will solve a problem, provide important information, inspire, or be uniquely entertaining.
Does this new piece of content provide real value to your target audience?
If you’re not sure, you might want to ask someone in your target audience if they find your idea appealing. This honest feedback may give you a more realistic perspective, and it may help you pivot your idea to be more effective.
Here’s a high-value example from BuzzSumo. Their audience is content creators and marketers, especially those using influencer marketing. This piece of content is going to get saved, linked to, shared, and referred to heavily because it’s so incredibly useful to the BuzzSumo audience.
4. If (and How) the Content Aligns With Sales and Product Management
Is your company launching a new product? Is there a sale coming up? Will this piece of content align with that and support it … or will it conflict or simply appear misaligned?
It’s easy to keep the marketing blinders on when you’re in the throes of content creation exhilaration. But you need to make sure your content strategy is in alignment with the plans of your sales and product teams or it simply won’t perform as well as it could.
Misalignment between marketing, sales, and product management comes through in how customers perceive your brand – and how they receive your content.
5. Your Content Writer
Who will write your content?
Make sure you have this key team member lined up before you pull the trigger on your content project – because scrambling to find them when the clock has already begun ticking toward your deadline is a recipe for disaster.
Because the writing is most often the first real milestone for any content project, not having a writer in place at the outset will hang up the entire project. Get this duck in a row, first and foremost.
Will any research be necessary beyond the standard “do a Google search for related articles?” Will your writer need to interview subject matter experts or customers? Will they need to comb through feedback surveys or investigate your competitors?
An experienced content writer knows that research can sometimes be more time-consuming than the writing itself. So consider it in your content strategy – and discuss it with your writer before creating your project timeline.
7. Content Type
What format will your content be produced in? Will this be a blog post, a white paper, an infographic, a video … ? Would it be even better if it was interactive? (Yes, you can make all of those content types I just mentioned interactive!)
When many people think “content marketing,” they think “blog post.” There are so many other content types to choose from – many of which might be so much more effective for your specific audience!
So don’t just stop at creating a blog post. Think about the content types that would work best to convey the subject and engage your audience.
Here’s an example of an interactive video from Vidyard to stir your imagination …
8. Design, Distribution, and Promotion
How will your audience find your content? How will they interact with it?
This might be the most important step after assigning a writer. How you design, distribute, and promote your content will directly impact its effectiveness. No matter how great your content is, if no one finds it, you just wasted your time and budget.
Identify the important keywords your audience will use to find your content, and make sure they are incorporated into the copy.
Make sure the design provides a great user experience that is also consistent with your brand.
Figure out your promotional strategy. Do you need a landing page? What about social channels, paid media, or an email blast? All of the above?
9. Details, Details, Details
Meet with your team and make sure you have accounted for all the logistics of content creation and publication. Agree on a timeline, make sure all roles are assigned, and secure any additional resources you may need (like coders, software, and photography).
You don’t want to start creating a piece of content only to discover later that you don’t have the resources or personnel to get you across the finish line.
Your Content Strategy Is Now Complete
These 9 steps encompass a basic content creation strategy that any team can use to go from concept to content.
I strongly suggest you document the strategy so you can repeat it for future pieces of content. Throw it into a PDF and keep it in a cloud folder for your team to refer to. If you use a task management tool like Asana or Trello, create a template you can copy and reuse.
Pretty soon, your content creation process will be as easy as falling off a log.
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