For an Effective Content Strategy, Context is Key
Your prospective customers are spending their time looking for answers. They’re asking for recommendations through search and social media.
If you’re business isn’t there when they’re looking, you are missing opportunities without even knowing it.
Unfortunately, the world of online marketing can easily become a rabbit-hole of misinformation and conflicting ideas. There are a lot of experts out there who are relying on their opinions before their knowledge.
For a beginner in the online space, it’s confusing. You may not know where to start. You might be searching for answers only to uncover more questions.
The advice you’re being given online may even be misleading. Marketers online are there to promote themselves and their own message.
Unless you think critically about how their advice fits into your business, you may find yourself going in many different directions; none of which benefit your bottom line.
The good news is, you probably already have the answers you need to get started.
You already know how beneficial a content strategy can be to your overall marketing plan.
You already know that providing relevant, valuable information to your prospective buyers will help build authority and gain their trust.
Just don’t forget about some of the basic principles that you’ve used to build your business to where it is so far.
As you begin to research the online tools and tactics that are available to small businesses today, remember to keep it all in context of what you’re trying to achieve.
Don’t overwhelm yourself by buying in to the hype of everything you can do. Focus on the basics of your marketing plan as a whole, and decide what makes the most sense for you.
Here’s how to get started:
Designing a meaningful, purposeful content marketing plan starts with a story.
I’ve talked about storytelling in the abstract, romantic ways that are meant to inspire you. I’ve also talked about some strategies you might want to consider to find your own, unique story to tell.
But if you’re still having trouble wrapping your head around storytelling for business purposes, there’s really only one question you need to ask yourself:
Why did you decide to start this business? Why should anyone care about you or your brand?
Will someone care because of the memes and “fill in the blank” Facebook posts that you’re doing based on someone’s advice?
Probably not. The reasons are probably much deeper than that.
Ask yourself why, and write your answers down. Be honest. If you haven’t done this before, you may be surprised at the story that unfolds.
The goal here is not to make up some epic fairytale or clever slogan for your business. The goal is to figure out what message you want to communicate to the world.
Why should anyone care what your product or service has to offer?
That, at the core, is the crux of your business. And it will serve as the common thread throughout the rest of your content strategy.
Think About Your Long-Term Goals
Your goals are your destination, and your strategy is the map. If you want to drive your marketing in the right direction, it’s important to know where you’re going.
Without a meaningful, measurable goal in mind for your business, there’s no way to know whether your strategy is working.
What is a meaningful goal? One that drives your desired results.
What I mean is this: If your goal is to gain more Twitter followers or Facebook fans, it’s not meaningful. Those metrics have nothing to do with your bottom line.
A better goal is to use Facebook as a content outpost that builds awareness and drives traffic back to your site.
But don’t stop there. Think about how you’re going to measure it. Once a visitor gets to your site, what should they do?
Most people think building a following on social media is all they need to do in order to succeed online. As if your thousands of Twitter followers are suddenly going to show up on your doorstep with money in hand.
I wish it worked like that, but it doesn’t.
Marketing online today isn’t transactional as much as it is relationship-building. Getting a new follower on social media is only the first step.
It’s up to you to tell them your story, build trust, and lead them by the hand back to your website or your storefront.
Design the Tactics Around Your Strategy (not the other way around)
Now you have a clear, measurable goal in mind and a compelling story to tell.
You’ve looked at your map and decided on a destination. Now it’s time to find a way to get there.
This is where the advice you read online can be difficult to navigate. Most of the articles you’ll find are about the specific tools and tactics you should use.
These specific tools, tips, and tricks might be helpful to you later, but don’t start planning your strategy by deciding what networks you want to use, or what software you’re going to depend on.
Trying to find the most effective tactics for any kind of marketing is a waste of time without first considering what your strategy is.
So, start with your goals. Define your strategy around those goals. Choose the tactics that are going to best support your strategy.
You don’t have to focus on the latest and greatest widget because a handful of bloggers are telling you to jump on board with them. You should decide for yourself whether it makes sense for your marketing plan, and your business as a whole.
The Sum is Greater Than its Parts
Your marketing strategy is like a puzzle. So far, you’ve put together the border of that puzzle by defining your story and your goals.
As you research, implement, and test new tactics, they will make up pieces of the whole picture. But, some advice you hear might not align with your goals or your story.
Those are pieces to someone else’s puzzle, and might not be right for you.
As you gain new information, new tactics and new tools to try, filter it. Find where it fits within the bounds of the strategy you’ve created.
And as you gather new pieces and place them, one by one, into your marketing plan, it will eventually form a complete picture.
The important part is to focus on what matters for you, your business, and your customers. Choose tactics and tools that align with your overall goals. Don’t worry about what’s popular or what’s new.
Originally published on Linkedin, entitled “Why Context is Key for an Effective Content Strategy” and republished here with permission.
Anton Rius is a proud dad, Seahawks fan and a life long learner. During the day he is a marketer and IT manager.
Image attribultion: http://www.spring2innovation.com/tag/context/