A Look Back to Look Forward
Ten years ago we wrote this article: Social Media Strategy. Much of this article is still true today, though there is certainly different factors and elements that drive you faster to success in todays market that were not available ten years ago.
This article is a look back at what was true 10 years ago. And now I’d like to look forward, at what is true today – and for the future. Let’s be honest, marketing itself hasn’t changed over time. What has changed is HOW marketing is done, the tools we use, the technology that’s available. Marketing has always been competitive – that is the nature of the beast. Marketing is meant to help you stand out from your competitors, but now the challenges of competition moves the stakes even higher. So many competitors challenge us in standing apart, in showing up differently, yet standing out is simply not enough. There’s so much technology used in marketing today, and there are so many steps and elements that make a marketing plan successful, that missing only one step can be the downfall of the plan. Let’s look forward by looking at a first step of any successful marketing plan: The Content Strategy Plan. The one piece of planning that outlines and oversees all other elements.
In business, there’s never a time that focusing on regret moves you in the right direction. There is only time NOW to do what you can do to improve your business and your business success. Learning from the past, analyzing what’s been done and what is working; that is the only reason for looking back – for finding ways to improve moving forward. No matter where you are on the journey, it all starts with a solid marketing plan and that starts with your Content Strategy plan – the one that speaks to the topics, the focus, the implementation.
Content Strategy provides the plan to humanize your brand
Every business wants to be number one in Google. Yet, realistically not everyone can be number one. To stay competitive and lead your industry, you must have a solid content strategy plan to market and grow your business. Content should be delivered in many different ways to provide potential clients with a variety of ways to engage with your business. The Content Strategy Plan is the one plan you need for managing all that implementation, the tasks, and the execution. A solid Content Strategy plan is the game plan to success. Done right, you know the goals, you identify the objectives, and break that down into platforms and tasks – and can then delegate to ensure that the plan is implemented properly and with success.
Marketing is how we stay in touch; how we stay in front of our clients. A solid Content Strategy Plan is delivered on all the channels that make sense to stay connected with your followers. Social Media is but one element of a strong Content Strategy Plan and social media is how our clients choose to engage and stay informed. Social media is a powerful way to connect and to build relationships. The key is to successfully implementing your Content Strategy Plan is to understand the tools, determine what you want to accomplish, and craft a strategy to reach your goals. The Content Strategy Planning allows you to identify how you will measure success, tactics to grow your followers and ways to identify who is ready to work with you.
So how do you start crafting a successful Content Strategy Plan?
Craft a solid content strategy plan
Content is how you connect to your customers. Your content strategy plan should manage the flow of conversation as you outreach to your customers over time: from email newsletters, to social media, to blog articles, to video marketing. Your content strategy plan functions as the ongoing conversation you have with your audience and is the way to creating true human connection that extends beyond a single platform. Done right, each connection is done with intent and focus, each piece of marketing material should be seen for exactly what it is: a way to exemplify how you serve and show the true value behind your offerings.
The content strategy plan is a creative exercise to craft promotions, identify what you’ll need to be successful in your plan, and brainstorm topics that will electrify and excite you – and ultimately your fans and followers and customers.
As a business owner, I know you are wearing many hats. The way to manage your content strategy is to be active in the planning – and then delegate the implementation to another team member, a trusted vendor, or virtual assistant. The Content Strategy Plan is the first step to success. It is how you identify the objectives and goals and break that down to tasks so you can delegate and have a consistent strategy. Below are the steps we do to crafting a solid content strategy plan.
Identify your audience.
Your audience follows you because you inspire them. They listen because they are interested and you allow them to see a different perspective, dream of a different world, and see themselves differently in that world. Your audience can be anywhere along the buyers journey – and it is up to you to find the right message and words that inspire the right people to take that first step to working with you. Marketing is the way to deliver that inspiration. It is the message you craft that truly connects. By showing you understand their challenges, that you’ve been there and know what it feels like – and have the expertise to move past the challenges in a way that is easy and exactly as they need it to be.
Marketing is a love story with your perfect customers. You show you understand them. You are attentive and listen to their challenges, their dreams of a better future. You care about who they are and how they feel. This is about creating a true relationship. Your job is to find the right words to say that allows them to jump into the conversation.
Marketing is about showing value. Always show up with your best message, your best solutions. Trust is built through authentic connection.
How well do you know your customers?
We’ve got your back! We created a Customer Journey worksheet outlining the ways your customers come to you. Sometimes they come to you in frustration with past experiences. This worksheet helps you understand their journey and allows you to gain insights to how they are feeling. Those insights help you better understand their questions. That can lead to powerful blog articles that address their concerns, the things to avoid, the mistakes you see people making. These insights can also help you better understand their dreams and what they are looking to accomplish. That can lead to powerful messaging that allows you to ignite those dreams. Here’s the link to that worksheet.
Get access to our Brand Worksheet: Your Customer Journey.
Identify your goals.
For any plan to success, you must have goals that can be measured. These goals should be definitive and simple. In marketing there are many versions of successful goals: from increasing followers, to increasing awareness, to driving people into your sales funnel, to driving more conversion to your offers, to increase your mailing list. Your goals are your goals. Identify what you want your content strategy to DO for your business. Here is a list of Content Strategy Goals that can help you get started:
Examples of Content Strategy Goals
- Increase social media engagement
- Drive more people to my opt-ins
- Drive more awareness for my products or service
- Grow my followers outside my sphere of influence
- Build trust in my expertise
- Drive more awareness/Promote to my online course
- Drive more awareness/Promote my book
Each of the above goals are clear and simple to measure. You can easily see success in the goals – and can therefore find improvements over time to reach those goals.
Objectives are the actions you need to take to accomplish your goals. A goal is made up of one or more objectives. Objectives are actionable and measurable. When defined right, you can measure the success of the action taken. Watching your progress over time allows you to learn from your actions and to make better actions over time. Below are a list of realistic objectives for driving marketing or social media strategies. As you can see, they are also measurable – I can easily measure the followers, engagement, email list over time to watch improvement. Apply learned actions over time to see improvement.
Examples of Content Strategy Objectives
- Increase Instagram Followers
- Increase Facebook Engagement
- Increase LinkedIn Engagement
- Grow my Email List
- Enroll more people into my workshop or webinar
- Grow enrollment in my program
- Drive more purchases of my online course
- Drive more purchases of my book
And at the same time, objectives can easily be broken into tasks. For example, Grow my email list is an objective that contain the following tasks:
- Identify opt-in topic(s)
- Identify the opt-in medium (how will it be delivered?)
- Write the emails to deliver the opt-in
- Create the landing page with the opt-in embed form
- Test the page
You get the idea! An objective can be broken into tasks that can be assigned to various team member to fulfill the objective and move the goal closer to being acheived.
Now the fun begins! Start by opening an online document or with a blank sheet of paper in front of you. Begin writing down as many topics as you can that are your area of expertise. Then when you’ve exhausted that list of topics, start again with another blank page. Now think of all the questions your potential customers have when they get to know you, the questions your customers ask you, the misconceptions of your industry. Think of this part as an exhaustive list of frequently asked questions.
Create Your Strategic Outline
Now that you have these lists in front of you, break the topics and questions down into a flow of conversation, in an order that makes sense, and in an outline format. With big high level topics at the top, and more detailed topics or questions underneath the main topic. This outline becomes the topics over time. When breaking this down into a 12 month annual calendar, you’ll need one big topic for the month, and four weekly topics broken down, and then even further, you can define titles of blog articles, videos, newsletters and other distribution over time. At the end of this exercise, you’ll have an outline with twelve topics – one for each month – then weekly topics and further details for individual content elements.
Examples of a Strategic Outline
Below is an example of a Contest Strategy Plan Outline. As you see, each month will have a monthly topic, along with a weekly sub-topic that supports the monthly topic. Each weekly topic will be broken into various ways to speak to that weekly topic, in form of a question or a proposed title to a blog article, a video title, and any other ways specific to the content delivery.
EXAMPLE: January Topic: Social Media Marketing
- Week One: Social Media Overview
- Five tips to a successful social media strategy
- Leveraging channel insights
- How are the individual platforms different and what do I need to know to be successful?
- Week Two: Facebook
- Five tips to a successful Facebook marketing campaign
- What mistakes to avoid when creating your Facebook target audience
- Breaking down a successful Facebook Campaign
- Week Three: Instagram
- Five tips to improving Instagram engagement
- Three secrets to Instagram Success
- How do I know if I need to include Instagram in my social media strategy?
- Week Four: LinkedIn
- What is all this about LinkedIn Creator Studio?
- How to leverage LinkedIn for my small business
- What are the rules of engagement for success on LinkedIn?
- Week One: Social Media Overview
Identify how you’ll measure success.
Executing a clear, consistent social media strategy requires commitment of resources – whether it be time, money, personnel, or a combination of all three. Knowing clearly what you are trying to accomplish and then identifying how you’ll measure success will ensure that your resources are being spent wisely. Understand that for this to be successful, being agile and quickly focusing on what works will ensure your plan evolves over time into a successful tool for your company.
Measurements and insights have come a long way since the first article was written. Today we have more tools and numbers that can help assess the effectiveness of our campaigns, we have insights into engagement, conversion and even more in knowing HOW our visitors are interacting. We use Google Analytics 4 (GA4) and tactics that drive people into our website so we can learn how people are engaging, what they are engaging with, and can measure conversions by setting up Google Analytics goals and heatmaps. There are many tools to use, and lots of numbers to analyze, so understanding how the tools work, how to use the analytical data, and how to apply those answers to your marketing questions… that is the point of measuring success.
Example of measuring success
If my goal is to drive awareness to my online course, I may choose objectives that promote the course, by writing content that speaks of the results of the course by highlighting customer stories or testimonials. I would measure the number of enrollees of my course over time to measure success, by watching which strategies and channels are driving more people into the course.
Above all, its important to know the right questions to ask. When reviewing analytics, if you aren’t clear on the questions, the numbers can mislead or misguide you in their interpretation. The questions to ask would be: What drives more people to the course enrollment page? What content or channel is most successful in driving conversions? By measuring results over time, trying different tactics, different marketing channels, different marketing mediums that focus on the given objective, you can learn and apply those lessons to drive success.
Know what it is that is holding you back. Is it time? Then find the right person to execute and run your campaigns. Fear? Then find a consultant to help you create a plan you feel comfortable with. Only when you know what it is that is stopping you can you find a solution to help you move forward.
Periodically stop and review your results. This is the time to evaluate what you’ve done, identify what is working, and improve upon your plan.
Executing a successful content strategy plan takes commitment. But sometimes a little bit of research is in order before you begin.
Are you new to social media? Then monitor successful people and companies on the various social media apps. Learn from what they are doing right – or wrong. Make a list of things you like- and those things that you don’t like. This can help you craft your own messages.
If you don’t have time for that, hire someone to sit down and talk with you about what makes sense for your business and has the most potential to reach your target market. A marketing expert can help you execute your plan within your guidelines and scope.
Marketing online is now more important than ever. Understanding what you need to do is the first step to crafting a successful marketing strategy. The next step? … get started! Make 2023 a banner year for your business!
Focus Your Message to Boost Your Results
Get access to our Brand Worksheet: Your Customer Journey. You’ll find valuable insights when looking closer at your ideal customer and their journey to working with you. Take your insights into creating more focused, clear messaging to attract the right customers.
Read the Marketing Strategy Series
Below is our marketing series from 2013. In the ten years, many things have changed, but so much remains the same. We’ll be addressing these topics over time in our 2023 Marketing Series:
- Google Services For Your Business
- Getting Started: Social Media Strategy
- Forming a Social Media Strategy
- Developing a Social Media Strategy
- Forming a Social Media Strategy: Developing a Universal Social Media Strategy
- Forming a Social Media Strategy: Applying Your Strategy to Different Services
- Forming a Social Media Strategy: Targeting Your Audience
- Forming a Social Media Strategy: Should I utilize online advertising?
- Forming a Social media Strategy: Marketing Your Social Media Accounts Offline
- Forming a Social Media Strategy: Utilizing Local Directories, Part One
- Forming a Social Media Strategy: Utilizing Local Directories, Part Two, Google Business
- Forming a Social Media Strategy: Utilizing Directories, Part Three, Bing Places For Business
- Forming a Social Media Strategy: Utilizing Local Directories, Part Four – Should I use Yelp?
- Forming a Social Media Strategy: Utilizing Local Directories, Part Five, Superpages and Dex. Are there any other business directories I should use?