What to do when you have no idea about content marketing

There are plenty of businesses out there that should be killing it in content marketing but aren't. These are companies with exciting products and a reasonable level of staffing resources and a bit of budget to play with. But they lack one thing - a plan. Without a game plan, or at least a mudmap of what to do first, things just are going to continue to drift and circle.  

You know the old sayings, "Same actions = same results" or "If you do what you always did you'll get what you always got." 

If you're one of those businesses, here's the annoyingly logical step-by-step process to follow...


a lightbulb moment? ...

(Actually, it's an original lightbulb from Lang Park - you know, back when it was Lang Park.)

Step 1: where are you? Do an audit

It's warts-and-all time. You need to know the naked truth about what you're doing now. How will you know if something works if you have nothing to compare it to?

Where are you putting your content? How much content, and how often? When are you putting content live? And what kind of content is it. Are you targeting any particular type of customer or user?

Don't make any judgement calls at this point. You just what to log what you are actually doing around content. Try doing this for a month's content.

Step 2: Where do you want to get to? 

Now wave your magic wand and pretend the work is already done. Congratulations - it couldn't have gone better! Where did you get to?

Don't write down what happened with your content marketing, you haven't figured that out yet. Write down the effect it had on your business. Did you raise revenue 20%? 100%? Acquire 1000 new customers? Grow your market share by 10%? Take over the world? Try to be slightly realistic, but you want to shoot for the stars, so if you fall short you still end up in the stratosphere.

Step 3: getting more eyeballs

Whatever your goal is, your content being consumed more can help you get there. Whatever you are selling, promoting or giving away, you'll get better results with more eyeballs on your content. This gets called the "attention economy", for obvious reasons.

On our mate the interwebs, your ability to get eyeballs on your content comes in two parts...

Quality & Distribution

Quality comprises:

  • Content's production quality
  • Relevence to the owner of the eyeballs, timing and subject
  • Uniqueness of content
  • "Shareability" of content (starts to link to Distribution)

Distribution comprises:

  • What platform/service it is published on 
  • When it's posted
  • How much of what type is published
  • Who it gets shown to (starts to link to Quality)

STEP 4: personas

So if you examine and improve every part of the eight items above, you're guaranteed to get more eyeballs. But first, whose eyeballs do you want?

Everyone's different, but everyone has groups of customers with a common demographic. Some people call these personas.

Can you identify a couple of key types of customer or user? If you are a B2B business, they could be business owners or IT managers. If you are B2C, they could be busy mums or young professionals. If you're a sporting business, they may be casual fans or junior players.

Pick just one to start with. Then list:

  • What platform/service do they spend the most time on?
  • When are they most active on that platform?
  • How much content do they consume?

Social media platforms all have great demographic data on their sites, and you can also Google these answers. Guess what? You just set your distribution strategy. 

Now for your content quality:

Production quality - there is a ton of apps and software out there that will give you an instant lift in content quality fast. You just run your content through the software and it comes out just that bit nicer. Snapseed, Lightroom, After Effects ... there are hundreds for mobile and desktop. We can also do it for you.

What can you put out that you think people within that the persona would like to see? What can you put out that few or no others have access to? Answer that and you have relevance and uniqueness covered.

Lastly, is shareability. think about how much time today's digital consumer is willing to give up (not much), and what you have to do to get it (stand out). Even if your piece of content does manage to find consumers in the persona you're targeting, do you have a strong enough first image/headline/second of video to get them to stop scrolling through their feed, or clicking around the web?

Some call this "finger-stopping content". Things generally get shared or even (gulp) go viral, when they make an immediate impact on those eyeballs. Sharing is like the impulse purchase of content.

Make sure you add a commercial message, branding or a call to action to the content. Ideal world: great content with non-annoying call to action.

Most social platforms will let you pay for your content to find more people, but you'll need to track how much benefit you're getting from the money you're spending to see if it's worth it to you.

step 5: test and experiment

So you put your content out there and it had some commercial message or brand or call to action in it. How did it go?

You won't get everything right first try. It just won't happen. But you'll be streets ahead of where you would have been in you hadn't acted. 

So now we loop back to Step 1: dive into Facebook's Insights or your website analytics and compare a week or a month of content results against the same period back in the olden times. 

  • Did your content find its way into more people's feeds or web browsers (Reach/Active Users)?
  • Did more people consume the content and (better yet) engage with it by liking, clicking or sharing (Actions on Page/Pageviews)?

Yes? These are all steps in the right direction. What if you post a different type of content, or the same content at a different time, or use a different platform or a different call to action?

And you've only hit one persona!

You'll start to get to know what works when and for whom, and when you find that out - smash it, then rinse and repeat!

And if you need help, give us a shout.