Throwing content spaghetti on the wall–and hoping it sticks–is not a strategic content plan. Discover the secret to getting maximum ROI from your content with strategic content planning–a must for visionary CEOs and established, sophisticated online businesses.
Strategic Content Planning is the opposite of “spray and pray” content marketing, and involves having a clear plan and specific goals in place to achieve business and marketing objectives. Creating content that builds upon foundational brandscaping is essential, and content should be distributed in an intentional way on the right platforms to ensure the right people see it. Content should also take people on a journey and overcome buyer hesitancy by giving them a new perspective or a quick win.
In this episode, you will learn the following:
- Discover the alternative to “throwing content spaghetti on the wall” and learn how to strategically plan your content.
- Uncover the secrets to creating content marketing that works, and learn how to ensure you get the most ROI from your content.
- Find out how to build trust with your audience over time, and discover how to overcome buyer hesitancy.
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Highlights in this episode:
[00:01:11] Content strategy is often misunderstood as a plan for writing content.
[00:03:38] The key is having a clear plan and specific goals you want to achieve.
[00:04:50] Getting to the “execution with ease” stage of digital marketing means embracing strategy. Strategic content is like the secret sauce that brings together all your content marketing efforts.
[00:06:07] Before you start churning out content, it’s important to do some foundational brandscaping.
[00:09:31] Pro tip for creating content marketing that actually works.
[00:10:41] How are you going to distribute your information? What content formats will you focus on?
[00:13:42] The third leg of the triangle is choosing content topics that are impactful.
[00:15:05] There’s two tests I like to put content through to make sure that they’re doing this.
[00:18:10] I have a free template available for you over in my show notes. It’s intentionally simple.
[00:19:21] The four questions every content strategy should answer
[00:21:02] Creating a killer content strategy isn’t a one-and-done deal. It takes constant research.
Crafting the Perfect Content Strategy: A Step-by-Step Guide
Content strategy is often misunderstood as a plan for writing content. Yes, content creation is one of its many jobs. Its primary job, however, is designing how content will be created and why it exists in the first place.
As the great Sun Tzu famously said, “Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”
Spray and pray isn’t a strategy! And neither is, as I somewhat sarcastically say, throwing content spaghetti on the wall and hoping it sticks.
A successful content strategy should always be present before any content production begins. But what is it? How do you create one? And how can you use it to craft better content? Let’s dive into the fundamentals of effective content strategy and how you can start using one to improve your brand’s content efforts.
What is content strategy?
- A content strategy is an overarching plan in which you use content (audio, visual, and/or written) to achieve your business and marketing goals.
- It’s the whole shebang when it comes to planning, creating, distributing, and measuring all kinds of online content.
- By contrast, “spray and pray” content marketing is when marketers throw content spaghetti on the wall and hope it sticks without strategic decisions guiding them.
And I’m not just talking about throwing some random blog posts or social media updates out into the void. No, no, no! The key is having a clear plan and specific goals you want to achieve.
A well-crafted and usable content strategy can help businesses that launch identify the type of content that best fits their audience’s needs at various stages of the buyer’s journey, create awareness around their brand or course, increase conversions, and build trust among customers.
The alternative to “spray and pray” content creation is strategic content.
Strategic Content Goes Beyond A Strong Content Strategy
Ideation to execution sounds fancy, but that’s what we’re talking about. Getting to the “execution with ease” stage of digital marketing means embracing strategy as an elevated, higher-level activity. It goes beyond a single plan to encompass all aspects of content creation, publishing, and promotion.
What is strategic content?
Strategic content planning is like the secret sauce that brings together all your content marketing efforts, giving them a clear purpose and direction. Think of it as your trusty arm that carries your message to your best client with precision and impact.
And also, remember that you may have a launch event with the most epic training, best-written email sequences… and there’s still a large segment of your audience that wasn’t ready to buy. Your strategic content will nurture them till they’re either ready next time, or till they decide to exit your world.
Foundational Brandscaping Shapes Everything
Before you start churning out content like a content-churning machine (eek?), it’s important to do some foundational brandscaping. It feels basic, and also it’s important. Most of my content planning clients have, at some point, muttered, “I’ve already done that.” And I always want to reply that it should be easy to move through quickly then!
That means figuring out who your best client is and what their journey looks like. But let’s not forget the real reason we’re here–to solve their problems in a way that’s so elevated it makes them go “wow” (or at least raises an eyebrow). That’s what sets you apart from the boy-parenting coach up the road, and that’s what you’ll be screaming from the digital mountaintops with your killer content. So let’s get started, shall we?
1. Who’s your who?
We already know you’ll be planning, creating, and managing content to meet the specific needs of your audience. The secret is to know your audience inside and out. Who are these mythical creatures that will be reading your content, you ask? Well, you’ll need to do some good old-fashioned research to find out.
This includes researching demographics of your best client, their interests (this one is key!), and any other factors that could affect how they interact with your content. Beyond demographics, you need to know what’s driving them psychologically. Aspirational factors matter.
Once you clearly understand who your audience is, you can start to plan out topics and formats that will engage them. You won’t resonate without it.
Just put yourself in their shoes and think about
- what they want,
- what they need,
- and what they’re interested in.
And if you’re feeling extra brave, why not actually ask them what they want to see from you? Trust me, it’s way better than just guessing and hoping for the best. So, get to know your audience and watch your engagement soar!
2. What’s their unique problem or goal?
Providing value to your audience depends on what they’re currently finding valuable–as in, what’s the big problem they’re facing?
Think about it–why are people even bothering to read your content in the first place? It’s because they have a problem or a question that needs solving, and they’re looking to you for some much-needed guidance. So, if you want to keep your audience engaged and coming back for more, you gotta give ’em what they want in high-quality content.
If they see you as a few steps beyond them (more than one, please!) and you’re talking about a solution just one step beyond them, they start seeing you as part of the solution. But they’ll only get that insight when you’re sharing incredibly relevant content regularly.
So, get to work and start solving those burning questions and pesky problems. Your audience will thank you for it!
3. What is the goal of your content?
I’m about to give you a pro-tip for creating a content marketing strategy that actually works. Spoiler alert: it’s all about having goals. Whether you’re looking to boost brand awareness, generate leads, or drive more sales, your content marketing strategy should be designed with these goals in mind.
Think about it–if you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve, how can you possibly create content that’s going to get you there? It’s like trying to play darts with a blindfold on. So, take that blindfold off and get laser-focused on what you want to accomplish.
Nurturing your audience between launches is the bare minimum for a content piece’s goal. How are you building trust between launches? Or, to put it more delicately, are you completely ghosting your people and having to start the trust-building journey over for your next launch event?
Creating engaging content for your target audience is an essential part of any thoughtful content strategy. What are you hoping to do beyond engage them?
And hey, if you’re feeling extra fancy, why not break those big goals down into smaller, more manageable ones? That way, you can actually track your progress and see how you’re doing.
No amount of “marketing” can fix content that doesn’t build upon your foundational brandscaping!
The Strategy Means There’s An Intentional Way You Share Information In Content
Strategic content planning means intentionally spreading your content like a social media disease across all the major platforms, websites, and any other channels you can think of (billboards, anyone?).
It’s like a chef carefully portioning out ingredients to make a delicious meal–they don’t use all of the ingredients at once, but strategically spread them out as needed over time.
Now that you know your who and you know what’s driving them (that big, niggly problem)–how are you going to reach them with your marketing plan? Are they:
- likely to fall down the Google search rabbit hole and read blog posts rich with buzzwords?
- Short-form video connoisseurs that live and breathe on TikTok?
- taking long, podcast-blaring drives on the regular?
What content formats will you focus on?
We’ve got three things to consider here:
- Type of content: written, audio, or video
- Staying consistent with a system
- Which social platforms you’ll use to distribute and publish
Whether you choose a blog, video channel, or podcast as your primary weekly content–create killer content that meets your audience’s needs and hits your business goals, write it down, and stick with it. Share it on the right social platform that you chose for your who, and keep at it over time to ensure it’s seen by the right people.
By following a simple content system for each topic you work on, you can ensure that you’re getting the most ROI from your content management system.
The human brain subconsciously processes 11 million bits of sensory information each second. Setting up your content on the right platform where your people choose to spend time increases your odds at connecting with them.
If you really want to take things to the next level, try collaborating with other content creators in your industry. Maybe you team up for a guest blog post or a joint webinar – either way, you’ll be able to tap into each other’s audiences and get your content in front of some fresh faces. Plus, it’s always more fun to work with a partner in crime, am I right?
You’re choosing how to set up your content plan based on your audience AND your needs.
Choosing Impactful Topics Matters
Don’t forget the content topics that take your best clients on a magical journey. Gone are the days of publishing anything and everything; content marketing must be relevant to your target audience at every stage of the buyer’s journey to engage and generate leads, sales, and engagement.
Strategic content leads your audience member on a journey–since only 3% are ready to buy RIGHT NOW, you’re serving the other 97% until they are or until they exit your audience.
Overcome buyer hesitancy
Topics that give your audience a new perspective or a quick win to build trust. How your topics and content build upon each other increase the likelihood that you’ll build that trust over time.
- you wouldn’t ask someone to marry you on the first date, right?
- your goal is to get them thinking “I hadn’t thought about that yet…” This is the greatest moment any of your audience could have in regards to considering YOU as part of their solution
Choose your topics thoughtfully, like a fine wine, based on how they fit together and how they’ll hold up over time. This way, you can evergreen them later and give your content even more power to make an impact.
SEO experts will talk about keyword clusters–and you can think of topic clusters in the same way. Does this topic lead into another question my best client will have? Make sure you cover them both for better nurturing–and therefore trust-building.
The kindergarten test
Related topics are like the threads of a tapestry that, when woven together, form a beautiful and detailed picture. Choosing impactful topics means acknowledging, they need to play together. They need to pass the kindergarten test (do they play well with each other)!
The “what’s in it for me” filter
Whenever you create content, whether it’s the larger topic at hand or a smaller, repurposed element of that larger topic, it needs to answer this question from the audience’s perspective. That means it isn’t a demo of your product; it’s a demo of how your product solves a solution your best client is looking for. Example: your content database doesn’t organize your content; it saves you time because you can find the infographic showing the two content tests in thirty seconds.
Put every piece of content through the question–what job does this do for my people?
By doing this, you’ll ensure your message reaches the right people in the right way, making your brand stand out from the competition. And let’s face it, who doesn’t want to stand out from the crowd?!
Impactful topics build upon each other and bring warm leads through a trust-building journey.
Content Strategy Template
I want to help you build a content marketing plan. A template is a useful tool for developing a successful content marketing plan. A content system template is designed to structure your content and guide its creation, management, and analysis. It’s a handy starting point for crafting a strategy that meets your business goals.
There are a ton of them online. And as I peruse them–they all look unnecessarily complicated. I hate that because it makes it seem like you need an MBA to understand how to plan content strategy, and that’s not the case. You just need to see which content format and topics work, and where.
Here’s what I want to see in a content strategy template:
- What do your people engage with? This will determine whether the piece of content is video or written, for example.
- What’s the goal of this piece? That’s how to plan your CTA so your content marketing goals aren’t lost.
- Which content pillar or content bucket does this topic fall into?
- Which other pieces of content will this piece link to, so you can lead your viewer on the journey we talked about? Distribute content so they weave together. (Remember, we don’t have to create new content when we already have different types of content that do the job!)
Sample Content Strategy Plan
Ugh, planning. But listen, with this content strategy template, you can totally structure your plan and figure out what kind of content will help you meet your business goals. It’s like a roadmap for your content journey. Use it to get a clear vision of how your audience and your editorial calendar interact. Nailed it!
Want a copy of this topic-based content strategy plan example?
** if you already own the Content Multiplier Tool, add this as an extra sheet to that tool. They play well together!
A content plan is a written plan to help manage the distribution of content. It outlines content goals, audience targeting, and creation strategies for each piece of content you produce. For a therapist, a content plan could include a weekly podcast to create audio content and blog posts to create blog content. In addition, it could include social media posts that target relevant audiences and target keywords.
People Also Ask: What should my content marketing strategy include?
If you want to make it in this content game, you gotta do more than just attract and engage your target audience–you gotta keep ’em comin’ back for more! That means things like search engine optimization (SEO) to boost your traffic and creating top-notch, quality content that really hits home with your potential customers. Remember, at any given time, only 3% of your audience is ready to buy. How are you nurturing the other 97%?
Don’t forget to plan out the entire content lifecycle to maximize your content’s impact and support your goals. This includes creating a plan for content conception, editing, distribution, promotion, evaluation, analytics, repurposing, updating, archiving, and even removal.
Your content plan is a subset of your brand strategy and should reflect the different buyer phases of awareness, consideration, sales, or loyalty. To make your content marketing count, aligning your goals with your personal brand is important.
How often should I update my content marketing strategy?
Content marketing strategies should be reviewed and updated periodically to succeed. A content plan, or “content calendar”, can help manage content distribution and ensure that content is produced and shared regularly. Documenting your strategy and implementation to measure its effectiveness is important–78% of marketers experienced exceptional success in 2021 with well-documented content marketing strategies.
Why document? You won’t always be the person doing all the marketing. You should be outsourcing parts of it soon, if not already!
Want to know if your documented content strategy is a winner or a snoozer? Keep tabs on your content measurement dashboard like it’s your ex’s Instagram. Monthly check-ins will give you the lowdown on important metrics like:
- website visits – whether that’s on Google Analytics or elsewhere
- time on website (versus bouncing right away)
- social media shares
- email open and click rates
You’ll know right away if your current strategies are working or not. You may find–especially for some topics–you need to improve your content and think of it as a work-in-progress. Keep your strategic content planning up-to-date and you’ll hit your target audience with more bullseyes than a weekend at the archery range!
Why is strategic content planning so important?
Did you catch the statistic that the average brain–you, that is–processes 11 million pieces of information each second? Stopping that scroll on the socials, nabbing their attention for your podcast… it takes strategic content planning. It helps you to create content that is unique, relevant, and optimized for engagement.
With anything–a golf swing, a dartboard, sharpshooting–they’ll always tell you to look where you want to end up. Aim your body in the direction you’re swinging. It’s the same in the world of how to plan a content strategy.
If you want to make sure your content is getting in front of the right people, you gotta plan it out right. Strategic content planning is key to making sure your message hits home with your target audience and achieves your marketing goals.
Content works when you work it!
How will you determine how to publish and promote each piece of content?
When it comes to publishing and promoting content, here are the steps we cover:
- The first step is to analyze the content dashboard of your website or blog.
- Identify which pieces of content would be best suited for your who and what marketing channels (that is, social or owned platforms) will showcase that piece of content best.
- What is this piece’s goal? The goals of each piece of content must be aligned with how your best client uses each channel, or marketing platform. If they don’t like watching Instagram with the sound on, you’ll want to make sure your content doesn’t need sound to get the full effect.
- Find a balance between quantity and quality of content. If you post too much content too quickly, it may lead to audience fatigue and decreased engagement.
Okay, listen up, folks! Crafting a killer content strategy isn’t a one-and-done deal. It takes constant research and monitoring to make sure you’re hitting the mark. Strategic content planning keeps your content creation in sync with your goals, audience, and marketing objectives. It’s like a roadmap for your content journey, and it’s gonna make your life a whole lot easier.
And hey, if you’re still hungry for more knowledge on content strategy, have you read the article on long-term content strategy plan success yet?
Music by Michael De La Torre. Thanks, Mikey!