Compelling content needs ‘strategy’ not a ‘shot in the dark’
May 13, 2016
The website content, sales letters, emails, blog posts, videos and any other customer communication you publish is all part of your marketing. If the message is disjointed, contradictory or just plain confusing then that will be the perception you give out to the world.
“People will assume that the way you do one thing is the way that you do everything”
With blogging, just like any other part of your marketing, you need a strategy or you would better off not doing it at all. Ad hoc posting of content can be seriously detrimental to your entire message. At the very least you need to build themes, use a recognisable voice and decide on your overall purpose: and at the completely fabulous end of the scale, you should design a monthly content schedule, create a deliberate structure, devise a compelling storyline narrative and get organised.
Five questions you need to ask before starting a strategic blog!
1) Whose attention do you want to attract?
Tune into your reader’s ear first. Most businesses are too consumed with what they want to say and pay little attention to what their potential customers want to hear. Before even considering starting a regular blog you need to get under the skin of your ‘who’ and find out what they ‘want.’ Identify your avatar in as much detail as possible: What they do, their hopes, fears, wants, needs, habits, and current situation.
2) What is the purpose of your blog?
Closely connected to the appetites, desires and interests of your ideal customer is the ‘purpose’ of you writing a regular blog in the first place. Please don’t be sitting there thinking ‘it seemed like a good idea’ or ‘someone told me that I should’ because if that is the case you are seriously wasting your time. These are some of the main reasons people and businesses should blog.
- Advertising (create a following to attract traffic to sell your products or others’ via affiliate links)
- Credibility (become the go-to resource in your market by demonstrating your expertise and sharing nuggets)
- Visibility (proactively putting out compelling content with a view to gathering data and building a prospect list)
- Nurture (building your existing relationships to keep clients engaged, educated and coming back for more)
There may be other reasons for a business (or business owner) to blog, but I think these are the most commercial ones. For this post, however, I am going to ignore the first one (advertising), as that is a business in itself; and focus on developing the marketing support function of the other three.
3) What are the stories and substance you can share?
Your overriding brand message and style are paramount, but if there is one place that you can bend the rules and let your personality show through a little more it is your blog. The very nature of blog posts lend themselves to telling stories and engaging your readers on a more personal level. That means you can be a little more expressive, give abstract examples, inject some humour, challenge accepted wisdoms, or even allow yourself the occasional rant.
We all come face to face with potential blog material every but most people don’t tend to take notice. Start to collect together your observations, directly from your marketplace or any other area of your life. These can be stories, quotes, quirky ideas, achievements, wit, wisdom, news items, innovations, or comment – anything that you can connect to a value message for your clients.
And there are some great ‘thought capturing’ solutions (APPS) out there: OneNote, Evernote, Trello, or a pen and notepad is pretty good too J
4) Which recurring themes, messages, or actions do you want to promote?
In the classic 80’s movie ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’ there is a scene where Steve Martin’s character finally snaps at the incessantly cheerful and rumbustiously chatty curtain ring salesman, Del Griffith (played by John Candy). In losing his composure he mercilessly lambasts Del’s personality and ends with the line, “And by the way, you know when you're telling these little stories? Here's a good idea – Have a point! It makes it so much more interesting for the listener!”
So, have a point! If you are telling stories with no relevance to your understanding of your reader’s needs, then you will only confuse or annoy them. Likewise, if there are mixed messages, lack of substance and little actual value you will lose their attention. Remember the idea of an ongoing blog is that people come back for more.
Make a list of five or six PURPOSES for your blog and try to centre each one around one of those themes. These will depend largely on your answer to ‘question two’ but examples might include:
- Subtly highlighting common problems that you know exist in the marketplace (but that you can solve)
- Commenting on subjects you know your prospects will be interested in, or searching for…
- Sharing ‘how to’ nuggets or value messages that others might not know
- Mentioning one of your products or services (in a non-salesy way) as a subtle ‘name drop’
- Describing the ideal scenario as if it was ‘standard’ – this suggests that to your customers ‘it is’
- Writing about complimentary themes that your prospects will be interested in (to highjack other traffic)
5) How often, and in what way do you want to post?
Based on the answers to the previous questions, you should have an idea of the frequency that you want to post. If it is to get Google’s attention it needs to be often and at least 500 words each time; if it is engagement than perhaps less and certainly better quality. Other things to consider are planning, calendar, your time, sourcing information and promoting the posts (social media, etc.).
My suggestion would be to set up posting dates on a calendar and assign a subject or working title to each slot. Some of the subjects that you could summarise each post under might include:
- Better performance (while at work)
- Better lifestyle (for the home)
- Topical (market-relevant, or general interest, anniversaries)
- Education (nuggets and your wisdom)
- Credibility (case studies written as stories)
- Entertainment (people love stories and trivia)
- News (show yourself to be current and informed)
- Resources (few things are as attractive as free gifts)
You will also need to think about including keywords (if you are looking to be found by Google) and create a social media strategy for sharing the content that you are creating. Don’t forget to re-share old content too. Once you have done the hard work of creating a fabulous post, don’t waste it on a one-shot-punt at being found. Build re-posting and re-purposing into your strategy for getting your message out there.
About The Author
Specialist business ghost blogger and business book ghost writer...