Developing a content strategy is a great way to get sales. Without a content plan, you may get traffic, but you will have a difficult time driving sales.
And to drive sales, your content must align with the following formula.
TOFU = Top of the funnel. Commonly known as the awareness stage. The content creation for this area should focus on achieving the broadest possible reach practical. However, it needs to be aligned with your target audiences desires, and your target audience.
This content is typically not created for conversion as this comes later, but driven for awareness. At the end of the article, we will describe the type of content that you might create in this area.
MOFU = Middle of Funnel. Here we are trying to filter the funnel a little, taking the wider audience (TOFU), and starting to qualify interested parties. In this stage, we are trying to identify good-fit customers. A good-fit customer being from their need to our ability to solve for this need.
BOFU = Bottom of Funnel. This is the area we start to create content designed to convert. We are either looking to make a sale or qualify a lead known as an MQL (marketing qualified lead.)
Content marketing is not just about creating blog posts, eBooks, and white papers; it dives more in-depth than that. It's about creating evergreen content that will drive relevant traffic to your website.
So now that we understand the principles, what should you include in a content plan? Here are the top factors you should consider.
1. Your Business Goals
This is one of the most important factors but is often overlooked. Your company goals should always act as a roadmap for your editorial calendar. What are you trying to achieve as an organization? Every piece of content that the marketing team puts out there should be in alignment with the company goals. It should help you get to where your company envisions itself and further the organization's mission and vision.
As you are investing time and money into content creation, you must also understand what the return is. And if different forms of content are working better than others, what strategies can you deploy to accelerate this type of content.
2. The Target Audience
Who are you creating the content for? Your target audience dramatically impacts the direction your content will take. Which type of tone are they likely to relate with? What kind of content should you create for them? Do you have various audience segments?
Knowing who your audience is will help you create useful content and find the right distribution channels.
In addition to this, you will be able to understand what problems this audience is having? What are they talking about, what language do they use, and what resources are they accessing to solve these problems.
Creating content that solves your audience problems via the solution you are offering in a language and style they resonate with. This is the most effective way of creating meaningful content.
For your target audience, you want to have your persona(s) well defined. In a lot of cases, you may have up to 2 to 3 ideal customer profile fits. Aligning your content in this way enables everyone to understand who you are targeting and why?
As an example, let's use Digital Stand. For us, we have three primary persona's we are targeting the CMO and equivalent, CEO or MD, and the CFO. Now, when we started our content journey, we were only targeting the CEO and CMO. Although we soon discovered the CFO was often involved in the decision and definitely part of the area of influence.
Whilst the CMO and MD were the decision-makers more times than not, the CFO is always analyzing the investment. So we now create content that also answers CFO questions when it comes to digital and social advertising.
The CFO is also now included as part of our content marketing strategy.
3. The Problem You Will Be Solving
You may be writing content to further your business goals, but you are writing it for your customers. They expect you to provide them with value; otherwise, they will find another company that can. What unique problems are they facing, and how can your content help them?
Create a content plan that takes the customer throughout the buyer journey (TOFU, MOFU, BOFU) without sounding too promotional.
The content should;
- Educate and provide information to those that are still making up their minds.
- Help your customers get the most value for your product.
- Reinforce your solution.
The best kinds of content strategists focus on being supportive of the target audience wherever they are in the sales funnel. Your content should be helpful and valued-added in nature. Target the search terms your persona requires assistance with, and help solve for that.
4. Unique Selling Proposition
What sets you apart from your competitors, and why should your target audience choose you? Keep in mind that you aren't the only one creating relevant content, so your strategy needs to have an edge.
You need to prove to your target audience that you're the best company to partner with. While still reinforcing to your customers that they made the right choice. Meaningful content is the best way to do this.
Whether you are a content team of 1 or a group of 50, any marketing plan needs content assets that educate your audience. The content created must provide you with a sustainable differential over your competitors. What can you do better than the rest of the market? And how are you communicating this? And why does your target customer care?
5. Type of Content
The kind of content to focus on will be influenced by the set budget and the target audience. Start by identifying the topics to focus on and then decide the best way to express them. Some of the types of content you should focus on are;
- Blog posts
- Case studies
Create a content mix that will help you achieve your goals, based on your resources, budget, and potential return.
We often have a lot of new clients say we are happy to produce blog posts every week. But when it comes to execution, they find other business priorities get in the way. Therefore you must either outsource the content you will not make time for or choose content that will always be done, regardless of business priorities.
Expanding brand awareness in today's market is not without its challenges. The more strategic you are around this, the more effective you will be.
6. Distribution Channels
Which channels will you use to distribute your content? And why would you not use them all?
- Owned channels (website and blog)
- Social Media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Medium, etc.)
- Guest posting
Ok, so while I have listed them above, as separate and distinct areas the reality is to create the right brand awareness, you must use all of these channels. Any content strategy for the web should use any free distribution channel possible. After all, it is free, this includes social media, but a paid plan should support it.
One way to tell if you have content that resonates with your target market, and to ensure your paid strategy will work is to post this organically first. If through free distribution you content is well received and engaged with. Then it only stands that putting a few dollars behind it will enhance its performance and your brand awareness.
All of your content and distribution channels should have a content calendar to support your activity. If you do not have one, you can download our template below which includes a 12-month plan, a place to add special dates, and a content ideas category.
It is in an excel format, so really plug and play.
7. Definition of Success
How will you know that your content plan is working? It's not enough to create an editorial calendar. You need to set KPIs to help you identify whether your method is effective or not. Establish the goals you hope to achieve with the content plan and then set timelines for them.
How much additional revenue will you impact or achieve by Y?
How many more marketing qualified leads will you gain each month?
With a baseline target, you become far more focussed on creating the most useful content you can. You can see how it is affecting sales and business performance.
When this is clear, it is a lot easier to increase the marketing budget. The senior leadership team understands what this means to the business as it is tangible.
Create an Effective Content Plan
Creating content without a content plan is like driving in the dark, without headlights.
Conduct a content audit, identify where you currently stand and then establish your goals.
Leveraging content for organizational success is a worthwhile investment. But it has to start with a well-defined content plan.