Is it that time of year already? Yes, it’s time to roll your content plan for the up-coming new trading period again!
Start by refreshing your strategy
If you’re not clear about who your reader is, and what you want to prompt them to do through your communications, chances are you’ll end up with generic or scatter-gun content. In order to win hearts, you have to make a genuine connection with people, which means being laser-focused on who you are talking to, what you are talking to them about, and which sales funnel stage you are talking about on which platform.
You may already have your Digital Strategy documented – if you do, you probably have this covered, but it’s always worth cross checking that you have everything needed to inform your content plan :
Who is your target reader?
If you don’t know who you are talking to, how can you create a connection, let alone a conversation with them? Building customer personas is the best way to create a picture of whom you are seeking to build a relationship with.
What problem do you solve / dream do you fulfil?
When people are searching the internet, they are seeking answers to their problems. They search for terms like “wedding guest outfit”, “dog walker near me” or “jobs in fashion buying” … rather than “Yellow sleeveless dress with sequins”, “I’m at work all day and have a dog” or “womenswear recruiter”. When you talk clearly about your persona’s problem and how you help resolve it, you can start to generate empathy.
What is your Unique Selling Point?
There is an old WSI saying “if you are not special to someone, you are not special to anyone”, which means that there has to be something special or unique about you. This may be a unique product, an innovative service proposition, your company culture or the way you combine these things. To show you are worth buying from, you need to demonstrate that you are worth listening to.
Which channels should you publish on?
Do your homework to assess where you have had success at each stage of your sales funnel, and find out which platforms your target customer hangs out on. Fish where the fish are swimming.
Which formats should you create content in?
Identify the right mix of content types that suit the platform and content type most likely to engage your audience. For example, if you create bespoke furniture, longform video about the creative process on YouTube is more likely to engage than a one-liner on Twitter. Research budgets – don’t commit to something you really can’t afford.
How will you manage content publication?
As your business grows, responsibilities change and you may have different team members creating Social Media vs your Newsletter for example. It’s important that each piece of content compliments the rest of your content, and your website, so make sure you have a planner which is reviewed regularly to help you create a content ecosystem. Various platforms have content management systems or schedulers, so research what you can automate to save your team time and to ease the sign off process.
Record the results of your campaigns and continuously adapt to what you learn.
Here’s a recent Hubspot guide if you need help with templates.
Create your content plan
Choose your template
There are thousands of Content Plan templates out there – Google “Content Plan template” & search on images. You will be able to find one that suits your business – remember, simple is best.
Assess your current content
Review results from recent campaigns. What worked and what hasn’t? What trends can you see? What are your competitors doing that you need to pay attention to?
Brainstorm content ideas – Inspiration can come from many places!
Collaboration doesn’t stop at brainstorming – think about where you can ask a guest to contribute, get together with someone else in your sector to do some research, or ask customers to contribute to the creative process!
And don’t forget to trial new formats – play with them to find out what might work for you.
Organise and schedule
Divide your content calendar into sales funnel stage – it’s important that you talk about what you sell from the perspective of those who have a problem and haven’t found the answer yet, and from the view of those who have used your product and found that it works for them.
Then decide on a topic to focus on for a given period. If Google sees you talking well about a topic from a variety of angles across a variety of platforms, your authority score will be improved. Hubspot recommend a “pillar and spoke” model for a given time period, whereby you create an authority piece on a central subject, and then smaller content pieces based on subsets of that central subject :
Stay on topic! Think of your content plan as an ecosystem – all of your content compliments and weaves in and out of your other pieces of content to build your authority score for your product or service.
Don’t forget your technical SEO
Ahrefs say that 90% of website pages out there get no traffic from Google, so it’s certainly worth optimising your content for search. Set up your blogs so that they are easily readable and identifiable by Google. Always check that your links work. If you include images, don’t forget to give them an alt-tag so that google knows what the image is.
Boost your readership through #s and @mentions, and don’t forget those all-important Calls to Action!
Measure and assess
Communication is dynamic. People are influenced. You cannot agree your content plan, set up your content and just let it run – continuously assess what’s working and where competitors are leading the conversation … and adapt your plan.
Content marketing trends for 2023
LinkedIn have identified the following 4 content trends as key for 2023 :
1. Intelligent and Interactive
Whether you are into the metaverse or not, Augmented Reality is here to stay. The early days of trying on clothes on your virtual avatar are already here.
Similarly, advances in Artificial Intelligence are incredible – the more it’s used, the cleverer it becomes (even if it can be a little creepy sometimes)
“That’s hardly new”, I hear you say! There are 2 emerging elements to be aware of. Firstly, Google are increasingly valuing content written in natural language – written for the reader as opposed to SEO. Secondly, in today’s “fake news” world, people are increasingly looking for data to back up a story.
3. Video and Podcast
Since Google’s acquisition of YouTube, their ability to “read” and rank video has substantially improved. The essence of video is that, done well, it is impactful and engaging, so whilst it’s already a first port of call for “how to” queries, it’s increasingly popular for many other types of communications.
Podcasts give the user the ability to consume content “on the go”, often giving a new perspective to the topic shared.
4. Intentional Content
To connect effectively with your customers, you need to get to the “why” behind their problems, dreams, needs and choices. Talking to their why will help you match their intention with your solution.
Whichever platforms you use to communicate with your clientele, success will come if you are forward thinking, focused on your customer, structured and adaptable. Content planning should be fun – it’s all about engaging with people after all!