In order to explain what an underlying content strategy is, I love referring to this quote by writer Arjun Basu:
“Without strategy, content is just stuff, and the world has enough stuff.”
This has never been more true than it is now. In a world where “content creation” is the hustle of the day, we are absolutely drowning in things to read, look at, listen to, or experience.
How much of this stuff is important — useful or interesting or actually engaging? How much of it is just noise?
Marketers know the value of brevity. We’re picky with our words, and we don’t say more than we need to.
We also know the value of an underlying content strategy. While it’s GREAT to blog or post to social media regularly, it’s not doing you any favors if there’s no intention behind it. That’s not “marketing,” it’s just… noise.
And there’s more than enough noise out there.
How to Cut Through the Noise
There’s no such thing as a new idea — Everything you could possibly think up has probably already been thought up by someone else.
But don’t let that frustrate you! Instead, it should invigorate you.
It means that there is a whole trove of ideas out there, just waiting for you to steal them. Yes, that’s right: I said you should be stealing ideas.
So, if every idea that will ever exist is already out there, how can you really stand out?
By putting them together in unusual ways.
Some of the most interesting, exciting, and useful innovations out there were just made by combining a bunch of other things that already existed.
Think about some products you love or couldn’t live without — how are they iterations on things that already existed? Pick an object and do a little research on its background; you may be surprised at what you learn.
Creating an Underlying Content Strategy
How does this tie back to your content?
The content you make — and spend your precious time on — needs to serve a purpose.
Your underlying content strategy should revolve around its most important goal: making a sale.
Here are some things to consider in creating an underlying content strategy:
Who are you creating this content for?
Think about your ideal customer. Get really detailed. (Side note: this is a great exercise if you’re having trouble juggling too many clients.)
Is it a couple of a new parents trying to teach their puppy to get along with their baby? Is it someone who travels a lot and needs help acclimating their pet to being boarded? Maybe it’s someone who loves competing and is nursing their dog back to health after an injury.
Whoever your ideal customer is should be the person you have in mind while you’re creating content. What would be most useful to them? How can you frame the content in a way that’s interesting and engaging for them?
What is the end goal of any piece of content you create?
The end end goal is to make a sale — but there are other goals along the way. Here’s where backchaining your marketing plan is super helpful. For each piece of content you create, you should ask yourself: If I split this down, what is the very next thing I want my client (or potential client!) to do after digesting my content?
Taking time to think through all the steps you need to make a sale will make it that much easier to create content that fits into every step.
What content format is best for your target audience?
We often think of “content” as “writing,” but content is way more than that.
Content can be written, video, audio, visual (pictures/graphics/diagrams), etc. It can be packaged as a blog post, a podcast episode, a YouTube video, a flowchart, or so many other options.
And while you may be tempted to consider the ideal format for the content itself, I want to challenge you to flip your thought process:
Let’s think back to that ideal client. What’s the best format for them to engage with your content?
If it’s a couple of new parents, they probably aren’t going to read an extensive blog post or ebook — they just don’t have time for that! A podcast they can listen to while feeding the baby is a great idea in that case. Or maybe you can make a useful graphic for them to print out and hang on the fridge.
Think about what your audience needs. Then make the content fit that need.
How are you going to improve the reach for that content?
The last step is where we get into the marketing nitty gritty. Your underlying content strategy has no value if no one actually ends up seeing your content, right?
What’s your plan for disseminating your stuff? Does it go on social media? Is it a helpful free printout you leave at local businesses? Is it a follow-up handout emailed to existing clients as part of your customer retention strategy?
Don’t just make stuff and put it on the internet and hope someone will find it. Consider how people will get to it and figure out the steps you need to get there.
All of these steps are an important part of creating an efficient marketing plan, which is part of your underlying content strategy. By knowing what your goals are, you can create targeted — and useful! — content to fit.
Not sure where to start with creating a marketing plan? I’ve created a free template you can use for anything you want to market. Just fill out the form below to get it emailed to you!