Sure, everyone gets lucky sometimes. The stars align and it turns out your little idea resonates with people, and suddenly you’ve got more attention or success than you ever expected. But have you ever noticed that some companies seem to be lucky all the time? They always seem to be in the right place or have the right ideas? When it happens on a regular basis, it’s not luck — it’s good marketing.
So how do you make your own luck? With strategy. Strategy is about knowing your product, your market, and your audience. It’s about knowing what they want and when they want it. If you strategize well, good luck will follow. Where does strategy start? With the basics.
Write It Down
All the content marketing ideas in the world won’t help you if you can’t turn them into a coherent plan. According to the Content Marketing Institute, successful marketers don’t just have a plan — they document their strategy in clear terms, from goals to ideas for how to implement them.
Do Your Research
If you want to make content that resonates with the people who see it, you’ll need to know who those people are. That’s where buyer personas come in.
A buyer persona is an idealized version of your perfect customer. Who is that? That’s up to you, but it’s something you need to think about ahead of time. Who are they? From broad-strokes characteristics like age, location, and income level to specifics like interests, hobbies, and values, it’s good to know who you’re talking to. Not everyone you sell to will fit every characteristic, of course, but it’s a way to keep your messaging on track.
You should also plan how you talk about yourself, your product, and your market. You might have your own special terminology for your product or what you do, but content marketing is all about being found — if your customers aren’t using the same words you are, they’ll never see your work. Research the keywords that your prospective customers use to describe their problems, needs, and even solutions to make sure you’re speaking their language.
You won’t know if you’re hitting your goals if you don’t know what those goals are. Content marketing can affect every part of the sales cycle, from lead generation to conversion to sales to renewal, and you can’t keep track of every possible goal at once, so focus on a few things at once and spell out what those are.
Once you know your goals, you can assign each one a relevant metric. If you want to improve lead quality, you can measure it in conversion or time to close. If you’re trying to improve your social media presence, maybe engagement is a better metric. Assigning a measurable number to each goal is a good way to stay on track.
We’ve talked a little bit before on how far in advance you should plan your content, but the main thing is that you’re planning. Essentially, planning is a balance — on the one hand, you don’t want to be scrambling to get your content out on time because you didn’t plan far enough ahead, but on the other, you don’t want to plan so far out that your content isn’t in line with current trends and events.
We recommend planning your broad themes by the quarter so that everyone on your team is on the same page, then planning specific content by the month so you can keep your ear to the ground of breaking news and hot topics in your industry.
Push Your Content
Making your content is just a piece of the puzzle — getting it in front of the right people is the rest of it. You can’t just press the publish button and expect people to find your stuff.
Instead, you’ll need a strategy of paid and organic search, paid and organic social media, and email distribution to your existing and prospective customers to make sure the right people are finding your content and turning into customers.
Measure And Improve
Finally, measure and test everything you do. There’s no shortage of analytics tools that can make numbers and graphs out of every web page, blog, social post, and email campaign you create — while they’re not all useful, you won’t know which metrics you need until you need them.
As you start to build content, you’ll start to have more and more data points to compare — engagement, sharing, reach, clickthroughs, conversions, and more. You can set benchmarks and targets to judge your future work, measure your progress over time, and adjust your work based on its performance.
Content marketing is a constant cycle of measuring, testing, and adjusting, so you don’t want to leave any of it to chance. Do your homework, make a plan, produce your content, and make adjustments. If you drive your content marketing success yourself, you don’t need luck.