The Complete Content Marketing Blueprint
Over the last few years, content marketing has become a vital part of digital marketing. This is because there are so many channels to drive traffic to your website or landing pages, such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, SEO, Slideshare, LinkedIn, as well as offline channels. While driving traffic through multiple channels is important, a clear and concise message, as well as offers is just as important. Content marketing is the foundation of today’s successful Internet marketing campaigns. It allows you to approach your content marketing as a completely integrated and strategic campaign where every piece of content has a clear purpose.
Content marketing also allows your business to develop a voice, providing a consistent message underpinning all of your content. This allows you to show your prospects what you represent, what sets you apart, and why they should buy from you. As a leading internet marketing company, we’ve developed a proven formula for content marketing success that will help you drive more traffic to your website by producing high-quality content.
23 Steps to Content Marketing Success
Gone are the days when simply putting out a high volume of content would drive traffic to a website. Recent advancements in SEO demand quality content, which starts with understanding the buying cycle of your audience and systematically answering the questions in their minds through content marketing. This takes a multi-step planning and development process which generates more website visitors, leads, and sales. Let’s take a look at the 23-step content marketing process below.
Step 1: Purpose
Outline the purpose of your content marketing strategy. Businesses often have multiple purposes, including lead generation, increasing sales conversion, brand awareness, and public relations. Write down the main purposes for your content marketing.
Step 2: Goals
Having determined the purpose of your content marketing, outline the top three to five goals you hope to achieve—be specific. Include the exact outcome, volume or percentage improvement, and how achieving each goal will impact your business. Remember to set a realistic timeframe for your goals.
Step 3: Target Audience
The next thing to do is develop a comprehensive understanding of your target audience. The trick to great copywriting is speaking as though you are having a one-on-one conversation with an individual within your audience. Copy that follows this strategy both engages and reassures your audience that you understand their wants and needs. To achieve this, outline each buyer persona that you want to target.
- Outline the basic demographics.
- Ethnic Background:
- Marital Status:
- Outline the values and morals of the persona you want to target. Personality:
- Interests and hobbies:
- Give him/her a name, and find a picture of someone who you feel represents them:
Now that you understand who your persona is as an individual, you want to understand what emotionally drives them to buy from you.
List the top three to five desires they have when it comes to buying a product like yours. What exactly are they looking for? For example, for Internet marketing, the top three desires could be:
- Increase website visitors
- Increase leads
- Increase sales
Just like desires, your prospects also have their reservations and fears about who to trust and buy from. Outline the top three to five fears they may have. For example, for SEO, one of their fears may be that they will never rank highly enough to appear on page one of Google.
Where to Find Them
With a thorough understanding of who your target audience is, you can now begin to identify where to find them. You can do this by investigating things like which associations they belong to, which publications they read, which events they attend, which social media sites they use, and so on. After some careful research, you can begin to determine the best channels through which you can access your audience.
Step 4: Buying Cycle
Now that you have a strong understanding of who your audience is and where to find them, outline the buying cycle that they go through when making a purchase decision.
The typical buying cycle is as follows:
- Information gathering
- Comparison shopping
Once you have done this, it will be much easier to determine how to use content marketing to connect with them at each step in their buying cycle.
Step 5: Story Development
You now have a comprehensive understanding of your target audience and can refocus your attention towards your business. Stories are a powerful way to connect with an audience and to show what’s unique about your business over and above your competitive advantages.
Hero’s Journey The hero’s journey is one influential way to tell the story of your brand, and follows a 12- step process:
- Ordinary World: This refers to the hero’s normal life at the beginning of the story, before the adventure begins.
- Call to Adventure: The hero faces a problem or a challenge he needs to overcome.
- Refusal of the Call: The hero is afraid and tries to refuse the adventure.
- Meeting with the Mentor: The hero meets someone who provides advice and prepares him for the journey ahead.
- Crossing the First Threshold: The hero leaves his ordinary world for the first time and crosses the threshold into adventure.
- Tests, Allies, Enemies: The hero learns about the realities of the new world. During this time, he comes face to face with enemies, tests his will to persevere, and meets friends along the way.
- Approach: Setbacks occur, causing the hero to try new ideas and approaches.
- Ordeal: The hero experiences a major obstacle that he must overcome.
- Reward: After overcoming the obstacle, the hero earns his reward or accomplishes his goal.
- The Road Back: The hero begins the journey back to an ordinary life.
- Resurrection Hero: The hero faces a final test where everything is at stake and he must use everything he has learned.
- Return with Elixir: The hero brings his knowledge back to the ordinary world, where he applies it to help others. While this may seem complex, stories are an effective way of telling your business’ story in order to establish a relationship with your audience, as well as to define your positioning in the market. Depending on the size and nature of your business, other story themes can be used, such as: ‘rags to riches’, ‘the underdog’, or ‘us versus them’. Take some time to decide which theme would best represent your business and write out the story. You may be surprised at just how powerful it is!
Step 6: Key Benefits
Begin to outline the top five key benefits that your business provides your audience.
Step 7: Differentiation & Competitive Advantage
With your key benefits in mind, list the main reasons your audience should choose you over the competition by determining your key areas of differentiation.
Step 8: Competitor Analysis
One of the most efficient ways to perform a competitor analysis is to follow the 3 C’s: customer, company, and competition. We began this guide by outlining what was important to your customer. We then turned your attention to the key benefits that your company provides, as well as what makes you different in terms of your competitive advantages. Unfortunately, this is where many companies stop.
To fully understand if your message is appropriate for your market, first list the top three to five desires of your target audience from earlier. Now, list three to five of your top competitors across the top of the same page. Take time to investigate and check off which desires your competitors fulfill, and which they don’t. Any gaps left in the market are perfect points to lead with when crafting your message, ensuring that your message will be truly different.
Step 9: Mission Statement
You are now prepared to develop your mission statement. Your mission statement should identify what you desire to do for your customers, as well as what kind of impact you desire to have on their lives. For example, for Blueprint Internet Marketing, our mission statement is: “To provide smarter Internet marketing services that enable business owners and marketers to generate more website visitors, leads, and sales.”
Step 10: Primary Message
By developing your mission statement, you have a clear understanding of the key message that you’d like to communicate to your target audience. Even more specifically, you now want to determine the primary message within this larger message, which is the number one benefit that you want your customers to see while engaging with your content. What is the main point you would like them to take away? For example, for Blueprint Internet Marketing, it is: “you’ll generate more website visitors, leads, and sales.”
Step 11: Secondary Messages
Outline the top five to seven secondary messages which you would like to support your primary message. For example, for Blueprint Internet Marketing, we broke our primary message into three key areas within which to elaborate.
1. More website visitors:
- We enable you to increase our ranking in search engines
- We enable you to drive immediate traffic more cost-effectively through PPC
- We drive more traffic by using multiple channels through content marketing
- We drive more traffic through search engine marketing
2. More leads:
- We generate more leads through proper landing page and website design and copy.
3. More sales presentations and sales:
- We generate more sales presentations and sales through email marketing automation and video.
Step 12: Keywords
SEO is a vital part of Internet Marketing. For this reason, select one keyword that will best represent your primary and secondary messages. A good way to do this is to imagine what your audience would search online if they were looking for a business that provides the exact product or service you do.
Step 13: Value Proposition
Now that you have an understanding of your target audience, the key benefits that you provide, and how you differentiate yourself, you are ready to write your value proposition. This should be similar to your mission statement while specifically stating the value of choosing your business (i.e. how you achieve what you do).
For example, for Blueprint Internet Marketing, it is: “Blueprint Internet Marketing enables business owners and marketers to generate more website visitors, leads, and sales through smarter Internet marketing that combines both traffic generation and conversion.”
Step 14: Positioning Statement
Using the previous few exercises, you can now develop a positioning statement that you’d like your business to be known for. For example, for Blueprint Internet Marketing, it is: “Blueprint Internet Marketing provides smarter internet marketing solutions through traffic generation and conversion.”
Step 15: Tag Line
As a final step, take your positioning statement and simplify it to several words. Keep your message concise and clever; something easy to remember. For example, for Blueprint Internet Marketing, it is: “Accelerated Traffic. Better Conversion.”
Step 16: Sales Process
With your prospects’ buying cycle in mind, outline your sales process to see things from your business’ perspective. The typical sales process is as follows:
- Awareness of you
- Knowledge of you (lead)
- Interested in what you have to offer (subscriber)
- Comparing you to competitors (prospect)
- Purchase of your product/service (buyer)
Step 17: Content Strategy
There are two primary content strategies, which are: 1. Traffic and lead generation – using multiple channels to drive traffic to your website and landing pages 2. Sales generation – using multiple channels to drive traffic to sales pages Carefully determine which strategy you want to use and map out how you’d like to use content marketing to achieve your goals.
Step 18: Content Development Requirements
With a much better understanding of your sales process and basic content strategy, pause and review the key topics of interest in the eyes of your audience. You can do this by answering a few questions:
- How is your target audience discussing key topics in your industry?
- How are they searching for information?
- How are they making purchasing decisions? The answers to these questions will help you tremendously when you begin to craft content for your audience.
Step 19: Content Development Needs
What are the key components necessary for your content in order to engage your audience at each step in their buying cycle? Answer the questions that are in the mind of your target audience. What questions do your ideal customers ask at each stage of the buying cycle? Write these down and then answer them as accurately as possible. These answers will be the foundation of the content you need.
Types of Content
- Web pages: Individual web pages rank in search engines depending on specific keywords, making it vital to develop new web pages for your website.
- Blog Posts: Articles are a great way to add pages to your website while reinforcing your brand’s primary and secondary messages.
- Ebooks: Guides can be a powerful tool with which to generate new leads while establishing and maintaining credibility for your business.
- Video: YouTube or Vimeo accounts provide additional channels through which to rank for keywords, communicate your messages, establish and maintain credibility, and drive traffic to your website.
- Slides: You can easily repurpose slides from your videos and post them on Slideshare, achieving similar outcomes to video.
- White Papers: If your message is a bit more complex and you’d like to delve deeper into the subject for your audience, develop a white paper on a specific topic.
- Webinars and Teleseminars: Both can be very effective ways to sell your products and services, as they function as sales letters.
- Multi-video Sequences: Email marketing can be used to communicate your sales message through multiple videos, which are essentially just multi-step sales letters. This allows you a bit more time to establish credibility and fully engage a customer’s interest before attempting to sell them your product or service.
- Live Events: Another tremendously effective way to develop a strong following while repurposing your primary and secondary messages in a live environment. The trick is to use as many channels as possible to drive traffic to your website or landing pages, while maintaining a consistent voice and message throughout all of these channels in order to guide prospects through your sales cycle.
- Infographics: Infographics are a creative way to repurpose your content into smaller, more concise chunks, and can be extremely successful when designed and written properly.
- Online Publication: Your own publication enables you to repurpose all of your content and messages within a single publication while increasing credibility and establishing leadership.
Step 20: Channel Plan
Now is the time to determine:
- What assets and channels does your business already have in place (ie. website, blog, social media accounts, etc.)?
- What needs to change in your current content marketing strategy in order to appropriately tell your story and communicate your key messages (ie. start a blog, engage with social networks, produce videos promoting your business, etc.)?
- What should you stop doing (ie. sending unprepared leads directly through to salespeople)?
- How will you utilize each channel to tell your story, develop a brand voice, and communicate your key messages?
- How will you utilize each channel to engage with your audience at each step of their buying cycle?
- Which channels apply to which buyer personas?
- What is the velocity and tone of each channel?
Step 21: Content Segmentation Grid
You have your funnel mapped out and have acquired an in-depth understanding of the kind of content you should use. Building a content segmentation grid—which is a matrix of your sales funnel and your various personas—will assist you in organizing this information in an easily referenced format. Take the time to outline what content you want to use for each step, what you want to say to each persona, and when you want to say it.
Step 22: Editorial Plan
- What is the velocity, tone, desired action and structure for the content on each channel?
- Set your publication schedule:
- Your core messages will drive all communication
- How often will you publish?
- How long will the content be?
- What style and format will your content take?
Next, develop an editorial planner (and calendar, for the longer term) which contains the following:
- Type of content
- Content idea/topic
- Social shares
Step 23: Execution
Finally, determine how long it will take to create your content.
Developing the Topic of Your Content
- Outline the topic.
- Look at the topic from your ideal audience’s perspective.
- Determine if there a story that gives background to the topic
- Determine if there is a story that makes it more relevant to their wants/needs?
- Outline if there a problem faced by readers that your content solves?
- Reframe the topic to include the story or address the problem customers are facing.
- Determine if you can improve on the topic.
- Is there additional information that you have that can help?
- Do you have visuals that can help tell the story?
- Is your topic trending well and relevant to current news?
- Re-evaluate the topic based on news that is trending well.
- Outline the key point that you are trying to make. Try to always back up your ideas with relevant, accurate details. Look for concrete information that will prove your points and validate your opinions, such as: quotes, statistics, case studies, stories, ideas from respected authorities, etc.
- Write your ideas for topics into an editorial planner or calendar.
- Determine the business objective for each piece of content.
- Schedule content in your marketing calendar.
- a. Colour code your calendar for easy reference.
- Type of content
- Writer/team responsible for creating the content
- Product/brand being promoted 9. Assign content development to team members.
- a. Colour code your calendar for easy reference.
Researching Content Topics
Try to always back up your ideas with relevant, accurate details. Look for concrete information that will prove your points and validate your opinions, such as: quotes, statistics, case studies, stories, ideas from respected authorities, etc.
The basic content structure to follow is similar to the format that you would use when writing an essay.
- Introduction: Get people’s attention and tell them what information and benefit(s) they’ll receive if they continue reading.
- Body: Deliver on your promise and provide helpful, relevant information. Organizing your information under subheadings makes it clearer and easier to digest for your readers.
- Subheading 1 • Subheading 2 • Subheading 3
- Close: Summarize and conclude with your main point or message. If possible, add a “so what?” section that explains the relevance of the information provided and how it benefits your readers.
- Call to action: Tell your audience what to do next.
Our advice as an experienced content marketing company is that each piece of content should have only one main point. This should be determined before beginning the writing process—and kept in mind throughout it—to ensure that you do not deviate too far from the key message and confuse your readers with unnecessary information.
- Find a unique angle from which to cover your topic.
- Every piece of content has a topic, point, and slant.
- Topic: the subject of discussion or conversation
- Point: the major idea or message
- Slant: the specific point of view you hold on the topic
- Repurpose written content into new media, such as infographics
The Day Content Goes Live
- Email it to your list.
- Promotional email with landing page
- Tweet about it several times– in the morning, midday, and evening.
- Post once onto Google+.
- Post once onto Facebook.
- Post onto onto Instagram.
The Week Content Goes Live
- Tweet and post on Instagram about your post several more times throughout the week, only using each tweet or Instagram post once. Unique posts are imperative. Here are a few ideas:
- Use a quote from your content
- Share your thoughts about the post
- Identify the ultimate benefit of reading the post
- Share how well the content is being received
- Develop a tweet and Instagram posting schedule. For example:
- Twice on day 2
- Once on day 3
- Once on day 4
- Once on day 5
Having a solid content marketing strategy in place for your business is vital to develop a strong foundation for your Internet marketing campaign. It aligns all of your marketing communication from your initial ads to your landing pages and follow up emails. And it ensures that your positioning and key messages are consistently communicated to establish a clear position in the market for years to come.
We at Blueprint Internet Marketing are committed to helping you understand and simplify your internet marketing strategy to provide your business with maximum results and increase traffic, leads, and sales. Contact us today for a free consultation to find out how we can help you develop your business as a leader in your market through content marketing and more by calling 1.888.533.4886 or emailing [email protected].