What is the foundation for success online marketing? AdWords? Organic SEO? Content? Well, I lean towards content but even that is superseded by having a solid strategy in place. It’s not as simple as just rankings or writing anymore, it’s about having a plan that attracts people, compels them to look further and engage with your business.
I’ve seen a lot of articles about ranking online or about great writing, but I wanted to summarize a step by step process to help companies plan their content marketing before they even start writing. With a plan in place, developing content and picking a communication channel becomes far easier to accomplish.
For this walkthrough, I’m going to use the example of a flower shop. Before I start writing anything, I start by asking some important questions to build the groundwork for my content strategy.
What needs do I fulfill (services I offer)?
I sell flowers and decorations to walk in customers, but I also produce custom assemblies for weddings, parties and other special occasions. Make a list of all the major service categories that you provide.
- Walk in purchases
- Special arrangements
- Party decorations
Who are my customers?
Identifying my customers will develop my specific audiences to target. This is very important to understand so you can research how each audience makes purchases. Make a list of all the major audiences you serve.
- One-off purchasers
- Birthday parties
You may want to take this step even further and define the specific individual who is purchasing. If you identify a person buying wedding flowers as a young bride, you can identify her specific fears or important value points. We call this building a persona.
How does the customer define their need?
This is where the customer and the need overlap to produce important content keywords. These will be critical to how we do content marketing so that we can target specific areas of interest. Someone looking for flowers for their wedding will express their needs differently then someone looking for a birthday party. Make a list of the important terms a buyer for a wedding may use.
- Wedding bouquet
- Wedding arrangement
- Bridal bouquet
Where does my customer shop?
This is where content marketing really kicks in and you target specific communications channels. Most of us are really committed to placing in online search, but this might also be trade shows, magazines or other advertising and promotional channels. Make a list of where a wedding buyer may look for information about flowers.
- Search online
- Bridal show
- Social media
What criteria do they use to help buy?
When the customer sees me in any capacity, what points help encourage them to engage or buy? This could be customer reviews, value points, location, price; it’s important to understand what matters most to your customer. It could be addressing their fears, being convenient or affordable, but it has to be woven into your copy. Make a list of things that matter to someone buying a wedding flowers that you support.
- Our wedding flowers won’t wilt during your big day
- We can wrap our flowers in any colour to match your wedding colours
- We have dozens of different designs and styles to choose from
- Free delivery included with full bridal party purchase
This simple program will help you understand your audience’s needs, where they buy and how they decide. With that information in hand you can produce great content that matters to your audience in whatever channel you chose to promote in. As a plus, great focused content helps with ranking online and engaging with customers on social media.
I use this same basic approach for customers all the time, it helps build compelling copy that gets interest. You can easily expand this approach into different audiences, services and even promotional channels to build a comprehensive content writing and marketing strategy.