You're Building Your Personal Brand Every Day. Here's How to Be Intentional.
Look behind you. See that trail of social media posts, online bios, email newsletters, and blog posts? That is your personal brand. Whether they are lined up like well-behaved ducklings or scattered like a litter of playful kittens is up to you.
The great thing about content marketing is that, in this day and age of digital media and immediate communication, content marketing is marketing. It's how you communicate who you are, what you do and how you can help people solve their problems. It's the website copy you use, the Instagram captions you write, and the case studies you share. The hard part is making sure all of these pieces work together toward one larger strategy.
How Can Content Marketing Affect Your Business?
The Content Marketing Institute noted in its 2019 Benchmarks Report that CMI/MarketingProfs’ annual research consistently shows that content marketers who have a documented strategy often report higher levels of overall content marketing success. CMI also found that companies with a documented content marketing strategy are:
- Far more likely to align their team around common mission/goals
- Far more likely to keeps team focused on documented priorities
- Helps their team allocate resources to optimize desired results
- Makes it easier to identify which metrics to focus on
Essentially, a content marketing strategy -- making sure all those social media and blog efforts work together -- strengthens your team's focus and creates a more unified brand.
Elements of a Content Marketing Strategy
Creating a content marketing strategy can be time-consuming, but it creates a foundation that saves time when implementing and aligning your efforts. Here are five key elements that should be part of any content strategy.
Goal Statement: As with any good strategy, you need to first decide what you want your content strategy to do. This affects who you are trying to reach, the types of content you create and where you distribute the content you create. At Influence & Co., our clients' goals typically fall into one of three categories:
- Thought leadership: Focusing on thought leadership helps entrepreneurs and business owners build authority in their industry and highlights their expertise to people who are finding them for the first time. Our clients who work in industries where trust is a crucial part of building a client base also tend to focus on thought leadership as their content marketing goal.
- Lead generation: Our clients typically move to lead generation after they've accomplished their brand awareness goals. Sometimes companies come on wanting to focus on building their lead base. Either way, a lead generation goal is self-explanatory -- introducing potential customers into your sales funnel and providing engaging and educational content that moves them through the buying process.
- SEO: Ranking well in organic search can help all your content marketing efforts slide into place more easily, no matter what your goal. But a strong focus on SEO can help if your customers are avid researchers and turn to the closest search engine for recommendations. An SEO focus can also help if the idea of content marketing is overwhelming and you just need a path to get started because a keyword and website analysis can provide content topics and opportunities that you might have missed otherwise.
Competitor and Keyword Research: Again, having strong SEO rankings makes a lot of other things easier. Knowing what your potential clients and potential employees are seeing when they search for your industry impacts how you communicate about yourself. Are you using the same terminology as your competitors (and do you want to)? Are you addressing trends that people are curious about? Are there angles that you can cover better than other people in your market? This kind of SEO research on your website and that of a few of your closest competitors is essential to an effective content strategy.
Content Audit: From your first sales pitch document, you've had content. But when was the last time you looked at that first sales pitch? A formal content audit takes stock of all the pieces of sales material, email campaigns, case studies, blog posts, and any other content you've created currently living on your website, sales drive, or could end up in front of a potential client. Once all these pieces have been inventoried, a content audit also helps you analyze the pieces and decide which ones need to be updated or done away with completely.
Editorial Calendar: For all the Type A personalities out there, this is what you've been waiting for. The editorial calendar is the tool for planning all your content. Whether it's the color-coded spreadsheet of your dreams or just a reference point for all the channels and themes you are focusing on, your editorial calendar provides cohesion and organization to all your efforts. It helps you map out the topics that you should cover based on the time of year, industry events, and cyclical nature of your business.
Distribution Plan: Your content can't help you reach your goals if it just sits on your hard drive. Make sure you have a plan for distributing each piece, even after each one is published. Often included as part of your editorial calendar, your distribution plan makes sure that each piece of content is shared, linked to, and promoted so that it reaches the people who need to see it.
You are a content marketer whether you set out to be one or not. Instead of creating pieces based on how you feel that day or the last lead you talked to, put together a content marketing strategy that can help guide the brand you want to be.
Interested in doing keyword research or a content audit but don't know where to start? Check out these free 5-Day Email Challenges, one for kickstarting your keyword analysis and the other on creating a content audit.
Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.
Director of Special Projects
Influence & Co.
I am the Director of Special Projects at Influence & Co., a content marketing agency. I work with our sales and marketing teams to create externally focused educational events and courses. These projects showcase how Influence & Co. does content marketing and also teach others how to apply our process to their business. Specialties: Finding forests among the proverbial trees, communicating in 280 characters, and understanding what people mean to say. Continue Reading
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