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Getting started with your content strategy

At Grey Leaf Media, we take content very seriously. We build beautiful, functional websites, but without valuable content, your marketing effort is only halfway done.

Content is extremely important, but if you’re reading this, you probably already knew that. Content marketing introduces your brand to the world in a very personal way, and it helps to convert visitors into paying customers.

Your content is going to do the heavy lifting for your brand in the digital world. It shows off your brand’s personality, and serves as its introduction to your potential clients. Your content, along with your website, is your digital identity that your current clients can share with potential referrals.

There is a lot of content out there, and most of it sounds exactly the same. Look at your competitors’ websites. Go ahead, go to their website, and check out their message.

 

It’s OK, I’ll wait. …

 

Now, you have probably noticed some similarities in their messages and what they are offering. Their approach to content and marketing is probably similar as well. Now, I want you to close those web pages and completely ignore your competitors. Seriously.

Together, we are going to do marketing differently. Your image is going to reflect your brand, and appeal to your clients. It can be easy to fall into the trap of copying your competitors when starting out. Their message might be great and effective for them, but it’s not your brand’s message. The problem is that if you don’t stand out and establish your own style, your message will get lost in the mix of competitors and advertisers.

This is why developing your content strategy is so important. Your content strategy will include all of your written words, descriptions, and images that portray your brand and carry it forward. For this post, we are going to focus specifically on blog posts to attract and keep your client base.

Getting Started With Good Content

Before you start writing, you need to brainstorm your topics. I don’t mean just writing down what comes to mind, although you should do that as well. You want topics that specifically target your audience. Your audience is your target customer base, and not everyone who reads your article will fit into that group. This is a crucial point to understand before you get started. Not everyone is your customer. Most people don’t want what you have to offer, but your target customers do. You want to attract the people who are excited about your product or service, not just anyone with access to a web browser. Your customers are actual people with real wants and needs, so it is important that you really figure out what they want.

Research Your Audience

What are your customer’s needs and wants? What is so unique about your brand that makes you able to meet those needs and wants?

If you’re not sure, ask your customers what it is that they want. People are usually willing to share, if you take the time to ask. If you have an email list, you can send them a quick survey or questionnaire.

If that’s not a possibility, browse or participate in forums related to your topic. Read the comments section of popular blog posts to see what questions or concerns are being raised there. Spend time with your customers in person, and ask the questions. You don’t need a focus group to go talk to your target audience. Ask people these questions at the gym, the coffee shop, at church, at sporting events, at conventions, or anywhere your customers might be. Build relationships and listen to their wants and needs.

This might seem like a lot of work to just get started, but trust me – the more time you spend understanding and perfecting your message, the more cohesive your content marketing plan will be. Do not try to skip or rush over this step. It will save you time and frustration in the future. Content marketing is not about getting the most page views per visit or the most traffic; it is about helping your ideal customer find you.

Help Your Audience

Now, while your competitors are targeting anyone and everyone, you are ready to start your targeted content marketing campaign. You now know what your customers want and need, and you know how your product or service can meet that need. You are not writing an advertisement with each article, you are providing valuable content that your ideal customer wants. You’re helping them learn that working with you or buying your product is a benefit to you both. Use this information to start creating your blog posts.

Your posts should be able to do some very important things:

  1. Answer your customer’s questions,
  2. Highlight your brand, and
  3. Show off your expertise.

Keeping those three points in mind, organize your notes into a list, and prioritize, and write down, your topics. At this point you should have a long list of topic ideas. Once you have your list finalized, decide how often you want to publish a new post. We recommend a weekly posting schedule, if you can manage it. Quality content will always win out over frequent and sloppy content, so don’t worry if you can only post once or twice a month when you are just getting started.

Organize Your Publishing Schedule

Now, you’re ready to set up your editorial calendar. Your editorial calendar is where all of your important publishing information will be listed for each of your topics. You can create your own calendar, or you can choose from the various options available online. For each of your topics, list your temporary title, some potential keywords, your writing and publishing dates, and how you will share your content. You can add more complexity and detail to each topic once you get more familiar with using your calendar. Your editorial calendar is going to help you stay on track with your marketing plan. It will also help you keep track of your keywords and your working headline while you’re conducting keyword research to optimize your post. We’ll discuss how to set up your editorial calendar and SEO optimization in later posts.

For now, stick to the plan. You will not see an immense amount of growth overnight, but, when done correctly, you will reap the benefits of your content for years to come.

Plan your marketing efforts for maximum impact

How To Create A Basic Marketing Strategy

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.

– a timeless proverb

One does not reap the benefits of a tree for several years after it is planted. The expectations of immediate results is born in the mind of a fool. And yet, the result of the patience demanded of nature is worth more than the cost of planting. A tree that bears fruit does so for many, many years.

What is the marketing equivalent? Is it banner ads? Social media likes? Branded merchandise? Guess again.

Marketing asset that keeps on giving is content. More specifically, evergreen content.

What Is Evergreen Content?

Evergreen content is web content that is always relevant, and is not made worthless by a short passage of time. Just like an orchard of trees is expected to produce fruit, a website’s evergreen content is expected to produce visitors. With the right approach, visitors can be converted into leads. The right leads turn into customers. And customers are the key to success. But how do you get your content in front of the right people who could turn into leads, and later, into customers?

Market Your Content

This is where strategy comes in, starting with publicizing, SEO, and beyond. We will touch on three common approaches, each deserving greater attention than we have room for here.

Share On Social Media

The first way that comes to mind for many, is to share your content on social media. This is a great way to bring awareness to your business. Before you jump right in, take some time to figure out which platform your target audience uses most often, and consider how often they click through to external content.

While you could take the time to share a link to your article with an introductory paragraph on each and every platform, there are things you can do to spend less time getting the same amount of work done. Look into social media management platforms, for example. At Grey Leaf Media, we have a suite of tools to get it done automatically, so you never even have to think about it for most platforms.

Be Found On Search Engines

Another strategy is to write your content to be as useful, relevant, and actionable as you possibly can, given the subject and context. Once you’re happy with the quality of your copy, you can begin to make tweaks to maximize your Search Engine Optimization.

SEO, as it is called, is simply writing web copy strategically, so that it ranks as highly relevant by search engines. This is essentially free traffic, as you are not paying for ads to entice visitors to click through to your website. Google has a free keyword analysis tool, which is helpful. At Grey Leaf Media, we use a host of tools to help your content rank.

Email Your Subscribers

Most online businesses which depend on website visitors and sales use the email marketing strategy as a key part of their marketing efforts. In order to email a list of subscribers, you first need a list of subscribers. There are a few ways to build an email list, which is a topic in its own right. The key thing to remember is that you need to ask them to sign up somehow, and you need to make it worth their while. There are several online businesses who specialize in the management of email lists, and many offer free account levels.

The Takeaway

The first step is to create great copy. If you need help, feel free to contact us for a quote. This content will be indexed by search engines, and the more traffic you can attract from other sources (think social media and referrals from other sites), the more importance search engines will give your site.

The content strategy is the only future-proof strategy, and, like planting trees, it is playing the long game, building a solid foundation for future success.