Content marketing has moved from a trendy sideline position to a mainstream key player. No surprise here. People like to read about themselves and high quality, well-positioned content feeds prospects’ and customers’ egos. It appeals to their emotions. It soothes their concerns. It increases a company’s visibility. It defines your brand by putting your clients and prospects in the spotlight.
A good plan does all of the above, a poor one wastes effort and money. So what separates a good plan from a poor one? It’s all about the prep work, doing your due diligence. The first moves lay the foundation for all your future efforts; efforts that directly affect your time and bottom line.
Prep work isn’t always fun. It isn’t sexy. But it’s necessary. Attitudes and aptitudes change, markets evolve, customers come and go, ideas grow. Use these steps to establish your fundamental message so you stay true to what you’re marketing, why you’re choosing a particular channel, and who is consuming your material.
Whether you’re a micropreneur for a budding enterprise or marketing director for an established brand, if you have marketing ideas swirling in your brain this is your starting point.
First: Differentiate between a plan and a tool. A Facebook page is not a plan. Neither is a Twitter stream, smartphone app, QR code, newsletter, Pinterest page, blog, Slideshare account, LinkedIn profile or even a website. These are all tools.
Action: If you find yourself getting wooed by a sexy new tool remind yourself that a plan is a system for achieving an objective. Put your love for a new tool on the back burner and refocus on planning. That brings us to…
Second: Define your core competencies and features. What does your company do really well? What features do you offer?
Action: Make a list. Grab a pen and a piece of paper and write them down. This shouldn’t be too difficult. Stay focused on your company’s talents and services. Try and list your offerings in order of importance.
Third: Establish your differentiation. What exactly does your company do that sets you apart from your competition? Is it your pricing? Experience? Service package? Depth of knowledge? In market-speak this is known as your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) or Unique Value Proposition (UVP).
Action: Grab another piece of paper and write down your USP. It’s important that you don’t skip the writing portion of this exercise. The act of writing forces you to articulate your thoughts.
Fourth: Consider the audience. Who is your target prospect and ideal customer? What are their questions, concerns and pain points? What obstacles must they overcome before engaging in your services or buying your product?
Action: Make two categories for your thoughts here. The first should list your customers’ or prospects’ overall pain points and concerns. The second highlights obstacles they must overcome before they feel comfortable making contact with your or becoming your customer.
Fifth: Consider your audience again but this time at a more personal level. Where do they get their information? How do they spend their time? Are they interacting with your company in a professional capacity, leisure, health or other?
Action: Yep, write the answers down (last time…promise).
Sixth: Now it’s time to put this information together and identify where your company and your clients overlap.
Action: How do your products and services help ease the pain points for your customers? What is it about your core competencies that customers and prospects should know and why would they care? Where are they most likely to pay attention to your message and brand? Gather up your sheets of paper and put them in a binder for easy reference.
There you have it, the most fundamental moves giving you the core pieces of quality content. As you consider the various channels and tools for your marketing plan compare them to your notes. Every delivery method that you choose and piece of content that you publish should reflect what you have identified.
Final words: resist impulses to jump at a moment’s notice. Doing your homework will let your content marketing efforts slowly but surely grow bigger and better.
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