The Simple 4 Step Formula to Create This Year’s Content Strategy

Written by Laura Roeder

On April 8, 2020

It’s that time of year! The time for fresh starts, new plans, and all the organization! If you set some big business goals this year, we want to help you see them through! That’s why we’re kicking off our blog posts this year with one about content strategy because if you have a business that relies on the internet, you need content.

So before you pull out your fresh planner and bust out those brand new colorful pens, let’s talk about why content should be one of your focuses this year and what it means to create a content strategy today.

Once you have your strategy ready to go, you can plan out your content using our content planner. Get your free copy here.

The word content has various meanings but when we refer to content, we refer to anything you create and share with the world that is meant to promote, describe or support your business or brand. Content can mean your website, email marketing, podcast, Facebook posts, tweets, Instagram stories, ebooks, free downloads, live videos, YouTube tutorials, TikTok videos, etc. etc.

All the way back in 1996, Bill Gates said “Content is king” and that sentence has become truer as time has gone on. (Bill is a genius but who knew he could see the future?!). Content is still king and no matter how you make your living, if you use the internet to market your business, you need content.

And this is where things can get overwhelming. Because “you need content” is a vague directive. You might have questions like:

  • What type of content do I need?
  • How often should I create content?
  • What do I do with the content once it’s created?
  • How do I know if my content is working?

A content strategy will answer all of these questions, but only if you create your strategy correctly. Good news, we can help you do that! And it’s not that hard.

Think of a content strategy as your guidelines. It simply lays out the framework for how you’re tackling your content marketing. It will make it easier to create valuable content and see results from it.

Let’s take a step-by-step look at everything you need for your annual content strategy.

1. Know your goals

Ah, goals, another vague business term that can mean so many different things. For the purpose of this blog post, we’re not talking about your big bold business goals. We’re talking about goals for your content.

One of our favorite phrases here at MeetEdgar is: “Every piece of content needs a job.” Creating a piece of content without having a clear goal or job for it is like hiring someone without knowing what you are hiring them to do. The chances are you’re going to waste a lot of time and be really disappointed in the results if you don’t go in with a clear job.

Content can do many different things for your business:

  • It can act as an introduction to your business for new audiences. For instance, the home page or about page of your website, your bios in your social media websites and some of your social media posts are all examples of content that’s goal is to introduce your business to new audiences.
  • Content can strengthen trust with your clients and prospective clients. This type of content could include blog posts where you are showing off your expertise or sharing a case study. It could be a value-filled Instagram post where you share how to accomplish something or it can be an email newsletter where deliver valuable insights to your audience.
  • Content can also act as a lead generator. For example, any lead magnets, free guides, ebooks, webinars or trainings you create that capture an audience member’s email address would have the job of generating leads.
  • Content can also create sales. Your sales pages, promotional social media posts or promotional emails are all examples of how copy can create sales.

Ideally, you should have content that does all of these different jobs. You can’t just put content that does one or two of these jobs and then believe it’s going to grow your business. You have to think about how people interact with your business because different members of your community are probably interacting with you in different ways.

For example, you may have potential customers visiting your website because they found you through Google. They’re on your homepage because they’re curious and think you might have the solution to your problem but they might still “shopping around.”

You might have an Instagram follower who followed you because they heard you on a podcast and found your take interesting. They know you are, what you do and what you offer but they might not know enough about what makes you special.

You might have email newsletter subscribers who have been faithfully following you for months or even years. These people know you, like you and trust you but perhaps, they just haven’t purchased from you yet because the timing wasn’t right.

All of these people are in your community and they are each consuming your content in one way or another so you need to be putting out content that does the job in each category.

If you know the job of the piece, then you should know your key performance indicators or KPIs. This is how you can measure if a particular piece of content is doing its job. These will differ depending on what the content is and what it’s doing for your audience. The question to ask yourself is: What do I want people to do after consuming this content?

  • Do you want them to follow you on social media?
  • Do you want them to share the content with their communities?
  • Do you want them to sign up for your email list?
  • Do you want them to schedule a free consultation?
  • Do you want them to click “purchase”?

Ask yourself this whenever you’re creating content and whatever the answer is – that’s your KPI. That’s what you set goals for and measure on a regular basis.

2. Know your audience

Knowing what you want your content to do for you is only one part of the solution. The other is knowing what your audience wants from your content.

You should know everything that you can about your audience but when it comes to your content, it’s important to know a few specifics:

  • What types of content do they prefer (for example: do they like Twitter or Instagram, do they prefer watching videos or listening to podcasts)
  • How often they like to receive content from businesses and brands
  • Their biggest problems related to your products or services
  • Their biggest goals

You can learn almost everything you need to know to market your product simply by talking to customers. If you’re brand new, then identify the types of people who would be your customers and go chat with them! Social media has made it easier to do audience research so there’s no excuse to skip this step. It’s as easy as putting up one poll a week on an Instagram or Facebook story that asks your audience a simple question. (Need some ideas for engaging your community on Facebook? Try one of these!)

3. Determine what types of content you’re going to create

Now here’s where we cut that shiny object syndrome and give you some #realtalk. So pay attention 😉

Don’t try to do it all. Just don’t do it.

You can not create all of the things.

We know you want to and know you probably could if you put in enough time and effort but it’s a fast track to burn out and wasted time. Those are two things we think you should ditch for the new year.

Separate from your website (we’re going to assume you know you need one of those), choose 1-3 types of content you want to focus on this year. It could be your blog, Instagram page, and Facebook group. Or your podcast, Twitter and LinkedIn page. Or it could be your email newsletter, your blog, and your Twitter page.

If you’ve done your audience research, this part should be easy. Create content where your audience is and create the type of content you know they enjoy. Oh, and it should go without saying but we’ll just add, create content you enjoy creating. If you don’t like Instagram, you don’t actually have to force yourself to use Instagram! This is especially important if you’re a solo or micro business owner. It’s harder to stay consistent with your content if you don’t actually enjoy creating it!

Speaking of consistency….

4. Find your timing

You’ve got to find your perfect timing. Contrary to popular belief, quantity isn’t the key to content success. It matters less about posting every day and more about posting on a regular basis that your audience can look forward to and anticipate. So choose your timing with what works with your schedule. Can’t commit to weekly newsletters? No problem! Send one fantastic newsletter a month. Don’t want to post every single day on LinkedIn? You don’t need to! Instead, post 3x a week.

The important thing is that you choose your frequency now, at the beginning of the year and get into the habit of writing at that frequency.

As simple as it sounds, you now have the basis of your annual content strategy! If you’ve gone through and taken the time to think about and work on each of the four points above, all you need to do is document it.

This is important! Document your strategy. You can do this in an Excel sheet, a word document or by hand. Don’t let this live in your head. Get it on paper! But then, don’t shove it in a drawer and be done with it. You need to hold yourself accountable to make sure you’re actually following through with your strategy and that your strategy is still working.

We recommend returning to your strategy every month or quarter and ask yourself if you’ve been following it, what’s working and what needs to change. Strategies should always be living documents. You want them to grow and evolve with your business which means returning to them from time to time to check-in.

Following a content strategy will give your content the structure it needs so you can measure it and manage it. It’s going to help you understand it better and once you understand it better, you’ll be able to improve and make adjustments so that your content is consistently growing your audience, giving you leads and landing you sales.

Once you nailed down your content strategy, you can start planning your content! We have a free annual content planner that makes it easy to plan out and manage your content. Download it here. 

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