The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need For Content Creation Natalie Slyman Content is a cornerstone of effective marketing. And when you combine your content marketing efforts with the utility of marketing automation, a lot of good things can happen. But, before you go creating content without any real idea of how it matters or where to use it, think about your customers and your ideal audience. The better you know them, the better you’re able to create the right kinds of content, content that’s personalized and tailored to their needs. I’ll walk you through the only guide you’ll ever need for creating content, including the types of content you should be creating and why. What is Content Creation? Why is Content Important for Your Marketing Strategy? Audience Loyalty Industry Leader and Authority Trust and Credibility Improved Social Traffic Qualified Leads The Guide to Content Creation Step 1: Set Your Goals Step 2: Audience Personas Step 3: Conduct a Content Audit Step 4: Establish Your Internal Subject Matter Experts Step 5: Designate a Content Creation Team Step 6: Create A Process Step 7: Review the Buyer’s Journey Step 8: Create Your Editorial Calendar Step 9: Distribution Social Media and Social Media Groups Email Newsletters Paid Promotion Content Syndication What is Content Creation? The primary goal of content creation is to attract new audiences and engage returning buyers. Content creation spans the following process: Researching what to create Generating content ideas from research results Developing content ideas into valuable content pieces that appeal to the target audience Distributing content pieces to the proper channels Promoting developed content pieces to the right audience Why is Content Important for Your Marketing Strategy? Content is the pillar on which any marketing strategy rests. Without content, there would be nothing you would use to market your business, products, or services to the ideal audience. Below are some reasons why content is essential for your small business marketing strategy. Audience Loyalty Creating valuable and actionable content across different touchpoints for your audience is a great way to build audience loyalty. Once your content remains valuable and actionable to your ideal audience, they will stick around long enough and remain loyal to your brand. Industry Leader and Authority Including content as part of your marketing strategy makes you stand out. High-quality content presents you as the industry leader and authority in your field. With consistency, your target audience will regard your brand as the go-to for all of the questions they need answers to, and ultimately purchase your solutions in the process. Trust and Credibility Besides positioning your business as the industry leader in your field, great content increases your target audience’s trust for your brand, products, and services, which in turn boosts your brand credibility. Improved Social Traffic In marketing, audiences engage with content they find insightful and valuable. Part of engagement is that your target audience likes your posts, comments on them, tags their friends, and shares in their circle. When your target audience engages with your content, the result is improved traffic on your social pages. Qualified Leads Generating leads for your business is good, but qualified leads are great. With content as part of your marketing strategy, you generate leads from prospects interested in your products or service offerings. The Guide to Content Creation Step 1: Set Your Goals Every strategy needs to begin with a goal. Otherwise, how will you track how effective it is? Before you put finger to keyboard, you have to list the goals you’re hoping to achieve with your content. Some goals could include: Provide better material for lead nurturing Have go-to material your sales team can use Spread your brand’s knowledge and thought leadership in your industry Get more brand exposure Generate more quality leads Increase SEO Step 2: Audience Personas You probably have a pretty good idea of who your ideal customer is. But that doesn’t mean you should forgo putting together audience or buyer personas. Personas encourage you to think deeply about who your audience is and what might make them motivated to use your services. When you put together your personas, you should try to answer the following questions: What is my ideal customer’s… biggest struggle? job title? boss or direct support? customer? industry? day-to-day tasks and duties? Also, take into consideration demographics, region, company size, etc. By addressing all these areas, you’ll be able to create a profile of the type of person you’re looking to target your content to, which will, in turn, inform the messaging you put together and the types of content you create. Step 3: Conduct a Content Audit Content audits are great for identifying content gaps – content that can be improved upon or evergreen content that can be converted to other formats or repurposed for other marketing needs. Content audit refers to taking stock of all your business’s content. The audit process involves content analysis to expose strengths, weaknesses, and how they have impacted your content and marketing strategy. To do a content audit, start by, Defining your business goals and the benefits of the audit to your overall marketing strategy. Taking stock of all the content in your content inventory. You can do this by listing all the URLs of all published content and segmenting them into categories for easy organization. Analyzing data associated with each content. You can do this manually or automatically using a content audit tool. Create an action plan based on defined business goals. Your action plan can improve some of the content, keep some as they are, or delete some if they do not align with your business goals. Step 4: Establish Your Internal Subject Matter Experts You’ll want to identify your company’s designated subject matter experts. These are the people who will author your content and be the face and name tied to your brand. Most often, it’s a company’s CEO or president. But it can also include sales reps, your marketing team members, or anyone else who has valuable knowledge to share that delivers your strategy. If you have more than one subject matter expert, make sure you identify the areas they’ll be the experts of. For example, your president or CEO could help push messages centered on the core of your business, but they could also share leadership tips and content on business growth strategies. Step 5: Designate a Content Creation Team Once the internal subject matter experts have been identified, the next step is to put together a content creation team that will oversee the content creation process for your business. Having a designated content creation team ensures that the content creation process is not interrupted by business activities or the availability of subject matter experts. Hence, the team keeps the content creation process running for the business. While no two content creation teams for different businesses are the same, below are the core roles that every content creation team must seek to fulfill. Chief Content Officer – lives and breathes the entire content creation for your business. Takes care of coming up with topic suggestions, aligning content topics with business goals, and content prioritization. Content Manager/Project Manager – takes care of managing and organizing all content and marketing assets. Manages the team and the process so that each piece stays on track. Content Strategist – brainstorms topic ideas and provide research, so topics are on-message Content Writer/Freelancer – Conducts research and crafts valuable content pieces that align with your brand guidelines, outlines, and ensure they speak to your business goals. Content Editor – reviews content for tone, accuracy, flow, and grammatical errors. Designer – creates any visual elements needed for developed content. Content Distributor – shares content out so as many people see it as possible Step 6: Create A Process Mapping out exactly how you’ll create your content is crucial, and you need to start from ideation to distribution. Your editorial process will keep all your team members accountable, and it ensures you’re on the same page regarding a system. The easiest way to go about this is to designate someone from your marketing team to oversee the entire process. You’ll also want to determine what tools and roles you’ll need and if you’ll be using freelance writers. Keep in mind that your subject matter experts might not have a ton of room on their plate for writing and creating content. Step 7: Review the Buyer’s Journey At each stage of the buyer’s journey, there are opportunities to use content to inch prospects further along and get them closer to a sale. This is why comprehending the three stages helps you identify the type of content you can use at each. And, the more you can tailor your content to a particular stage, the more you can nurture the prospects at that stage. Awareness Leads at this stage have established a problem that needs to be solved, and in their search for a solution, have just become aware of your brand. Since leads at this stage don’t know a ton about you, you’ll want to provide them with content that explains what you do and why you’re a solution. Types of Content: Social Media Press Mentions Guest-Contributed Articles Webinars Blog Posts eBooks Some of these pieces will be published on your site, while others should be published on other sites and publications that your audience reads. This will help deepen your lead pool and build awareness through multiple channels at once. Consideration When a lead has made it to this point, they are considering using your company but are weighing you against competitors. Content at this stage will be primarily housed on your site and shared through various other marketing channels, including email and social media. Your content then needs to be geared toward deepening trust and proving that you’re the right solution for their particular needs. Types of Content: Blog Posts Case Studies Webinars Service and/or Product Pages Demos Customer Testimonials Email Newsletters and Drip Campaigns Guides and Whitepapers Build on your previous efforts by using posts from the awareness stage to link to this content, which will help create pathways that guide your prospects in the direction you want them to go. Guides, resources, and other pieces of gated content will help you convert these individuals from website visitors to leads, and will also help you enroll them in your email nurture campaigns. Decision Leads at this stage are ready to make a decision and, hopefully, partner with you. By now, they’re already enrolled in your email campaign and have received content personalized to their needs. Your content here needs to be focused on making a purchase decision. Keep in mind that just because a lead has made it this far doesn’t mean they’re going to convert. Put just as high of a priority on content at the decision stage as you do at the awareness and consideration stages, and be sure to analyze your leads’ behaviors to see if there’s anything you can learn about how to tailor your content more. Types of Content: Newsletters and Email Drip Campaigns Case Studies Demos Customer Testimonials Pricing and Package Information Step 8: Create Your Editorial Calendar Your editorial calendar is your go-to resource for scheduling and planning your entire content strategy. It helps you keep track of each piece’s progress so you can maintain deadlines and adjust things as-needed. I recommend planning this for at least a month out, but do what works best for your team. What it should include: Specific days you’ll be publishing your blog content Your guest-contributed content and when you plan to pitch it to online publications Tags or categories each scheduled piece is tied to The current status of the content Your editorial calendar can also include your monthly newsletters and any one-off or specialty content you’re creating, like whitepapers, case studies, webinars, and guides. Step 9: Distribution This step often doesn’t get as much love as it should. After you spend all that time putting together a creation process, an editorial calendar, brainstorming, writing, and tweaking, you need to make sure the right people see all your hard work. Create a distribution plan that includes sharing your content on social media, in your email nurture, and with sales prospects. Below are important channels you should consider for content distribution and promotion. Social Media and Social Media Groups Over 3.6 billion people use social media worldwide, making it one of the best content promotion and distribution channels. While it’s primarily a tool for interpersonal communication and building intimate relationships, it is also an excellent tool for getting your content in front of its ideal audience. The key is to find a balance between creating posts that are entertaining, valuable, and salesy. Email Newsletters Sharing new content with your email subscribers as part of your email marketing efforts is a great way to promote and distribute your content. Your email subscribers decided to hear from you, and you are sure that the newsletter you send across will get to them. Create segments in your email lists and send relevant content to them for better results. Paid Promotion Paid promotion involves paying other channels or platforms to promote and distribute your content to their audiences. Paid content promotions include Pay-per-click (PPC) adverts, sponsored content, influencer marketing, paid social media ads, amongst others. Content Syndication Content syndication is publishing the same content on other websites or platforms. The content piece can be a video, blog post, or infographic that you know other audiences will find valuable. Content syndication does not only help you distribute new content and get them in front of fresh eyes, but it also helps boost your backlinks which impacts your SEO positively. Be smart with your content creation. Make sure that you focus on the right kinds of content based on where your prospects are in the buyer’s journey, and that you’re using that content in the right way.