Let’s begin here in episode 1 with content. Because, quite simply, if your website has no content, your website has no chance. But it can’t just be any content. It needs to be strategic content.
Important links from this episode:
- Try StudioPress Sites
- Sites Weekly Newsletter
- Brian Clark’s article: The Simple 3-Step Process for Creating a Winning Content Marketing Strategy
Jerod Morris: Welcome to Sites, a podcast by the teams at StudioPress and Copyblogger. In this show, we deliver time-tested insight on the four pillars of a successful WordPress website: content, design, technology, and strategy. We want to help you get a little bit closer to reaching your online goals, one episode at a time.
I’m your host Jerod Morris.
Sites is brought to you by StudioPress Sites — the complete hosted solution that makes WordPress fast, secure, and easy …without sacrificing power or flexibility. For example, you can upload your own WordPress theme, or, you can use one of the 20 beautiful StudioPress themes that are included and just one click away. Explore all the amazing things you can do with a StudioPress Site, and you’ll understand why this is way more than traditional WordPress hosting. No matter how you’ll be using your site, we have a plan to fit your needs — and your budget. To learn more, visit studiopress.com/sites. That’s studiopress.com/sites.
Okay … well, in Season 1 of Sites, we are going to leverage our vast archive of content to present essential, time-tested ideas and advice about the four pillars of a successful WordPress site that I mentioned earlier.
Every Tuesday, you will get a new episode dealing with content, design, technology, or strategy — in that order, rotating each week. Will there be overlap? Of course. Heck, to some people, content is design, and vice versa. And of course, neither your content or design is even possible without technology.
As for strategy, well, your strategy will determine your content and design, and will influence what technology you use, so strategy is really the throughline that connects your content, design, and technology together.
My point is this: don’t be confused by the individual focus on content, design, technology, and strategy in any individual episode of Sites. They are all inextricably intertwined — and our goal with this podcast is to help you improve in each area so that your online endeavors are as successful as they possibly can be.
So let’s begin, here in episode 1, with content. Because, quite simply, if your website has no content, your website has no chance. But it can’t just be any content. It needs to be strategic content.
See? We’re overlapping already.
And as Brian Clark wrote on Copyblogger at the beginning of 2017, there is a simple three-step process that will help you create a winning content marketing strategy.
What you are about to hear is a spoken adaptation of Brian’s blog post: The Simple 3-Step Process for Creating a Winning Content Marketing Strategy.
Strategy … we all know what it means, right? Just for grins, let’s look at a simple definition:
A plan of action designed to achieve a major or overall aim.
So why would the majority of content marketers have no documented strategy, according to Content Marketing Institute? And by “documented,” I mean a plan that you literally write down.
This is what happens when you document your strategy, again according to CMI’s research:
- You’ll be far more likely to consider yourself effective at content marketing.
- You’ll feel significantly less challenged by every aspect of content marketing.
- You’ll generally consider yourself more effective in your use of all content marketing tactics and social media channels.
- You’ll be able to justify spending a higher percentage of your marketing budget on content marketing.
For many small companies, the “marketing budget” is simply the time you allocate for content creation and promotion. And wasting time can often be more painful than wasting money, so let’s not do that, okay?
Here is your mission, should you choose to accept it
Before we get to the steps, we need an objective for our strategy. Our “major or overall aim,” per the definition.
The major or overall aim for commercial entities is sales.
Even if you’re a nonprofit or charitable organization looking for new or repeat donors, it’s dolla dolla bills, y’all.
“But Jerod,” the voices in my head object. “What about branding, engagement, social sharing, SEO, comments …”
“Let me stop you right there,” I tell the voices. Which is kind of awkward, because I’m trying to record a podcast right now. Pipe down, voices.
An effective content marketing strategy will hit on all of those things — branding, engagement, social sharing, SEO, comments, and more — along the buyer’s journey to the point of sale. While larger enterprises may convince themselves that “brand awareness” is a legitimate objective of content marketing, you’re too smart for that.
New customers and clients. Repeat and recurring customers and clients. Increased revenue and profit. These are the “major or overall aim” of your content marketing strategy.
Trust me, if you invest time and money into content marketing to “get your name out there,” you’ll end up a year from now curled up in a corner, sobbing uncontrollably.
No one wants to see that.
So, let’s run through the three steps to formulating your strategy.
Here are the three simple steps
Content marketing strategy ultimately boils down to three simple components. Not necessarily easy, but we know by now that simple and easy are two different things.
Before you can get someone to buy from you, you need to know what to say to them, and how to say it. You’ll never get that right unless you know who you’re talking to.
Call them personas, avatars, or even characters if you like.
Your first step is to do the research that allows you to create a fictional, generalized representation of your ideal customer.
Don’t underestimate the importance of the word ideal in “your ideal customer.” Although you always put the problems and motivations of the prospect first, you should proactively choose the type of person you want to reach.
And it might be even more important to purposefully exclude the “wrong” people.
Now that you know who you’re talking to, you can start to figure out what they need to hear from you. You’ll also want to place yourself in the shoes of the prospect along the buying journey, so you can deliver the right information at the right time.
It could be a funnel sequence, product launch, or defined period of time on your editorial calendar.
What do they need to know to do business with you, and in what order?
A big part of the “what” also involves influential touchpoints. You need to figure when it’s best to emphasize, for example, authority and social proof, and uncover the best moments to overcome preliminary objections.
Now we get to the creative part. By taking the time to understand the who and the what, you now know how to craft messages exactly how the prospect needs to “hear” that information.
The “who” reveals the stories you should tell, not just to transmit information, but to create a unifying sense of connection. The “what” tells you how to craft an overall narrative with a through line that ties directly into the prospect’s motivation for change.
Instead of guessing blindly, you’ll deliver the perfect analogies, anecdotes, and metaphors that make your ideal prospect view you as the only reasonable choice.
And since you chose them first, your marketing will be naturally authentic — because you’re reflecting your own values to those who share them.
Now — here’s something else to consider, which might be counter-intuitive:
You shouldn’t even begin thinking about how you’re going to create and distribute the content. That’s usually where people start, but it’s why so many organizations are doing “content” but not content marketing.
As Robert Rose smartly points out, content strategy is about how you get content created, whether in-house, with the help of freelancers, or by hiring an agency. It also involves how to spread that content once it’s created.
Content marketing strategy is mapping out the overall plan for what the content creators should be creating and spreading.
While you’ll certainly adapt and iterate based on what happens when your content is actually out there, creating a documented strategy will help you get closer to the mark, earlier. You’ll save time and money no matter how you decide to create and spread the content.
And no worries if the above leaves you with unanswered questions. For the next three episodes of Sites in which we discuss content — so, every fourth episode — I’ll be taking you on a deep dive to discover the who, what, and how for your own content marketing strategy.
But for now, hold that thought.
Because next week, we go from content to design. How can great design help your content marketing? I’ll explain — with the help of the single most talented and prolific designer I know.
That’s coming next week, on Sites.
Now for this week’s calls to action:
1. Take out a sheet of paper, or open Evernote, or write yourself an email or text message — however you jot down important notes — and answer this question: What is the objective for your strategy? What is your “major or overall aim,” per the definition of strategy we discussed earlier.
Is it sales? Is it building community? Is it making networking contacts?
Be as clear and concise as you can be, and know that you can always change your answer to this question as we move forward.
But right now, today, as of this moment, what is your major or overall aim? Write it down.
2. Make sure you stay up to date and informed. Sign up for free podcast updates and our curated weekly email newsletter, Sites Weekly.
Each week, I find four links about content, design, technology, and strategy that you don’t want to miss and send them out on Wednesday afternoon. Reading this newsletter will help you make your website more powerful and successful.
3. And finally, if you enjoy the Sites podcast, please consider giving us a rating or a review over at Apple Podcasts — formerly known as iTunes.
One quick tip on that: to make the best use of your review, let me know something in particular you like about the show — that way I make sure not to remove it as the show evolves! To find us in Apple Podcasts, search for StudioPress Sites.
Thank you for listening to this episode of Sites. I appreciate you being here.
Join me next week, and let’s keep building powerful, successful websites together.
This episode of Sites was brought to you by StudioPress Sites, which was awarded “Fastest WordPress Hosting” of 2017 in an independent speed test. If you want to make WordPress fast, secure, and easy — and, I mean, why wouldn’t you — visit studiopress.com/sites today and see which plan fits your needs. That’s studiopress.com/sites.