A Simple Content Marketing Plan That Builds Authority

In this post we’ll show you how you can create a practical and effective content marketing plan.

Doing so will help you:

  1. Generate leads
  2. Improve your brand’s perception in the eyes of existing clients
  3. Raise overall brand awareness
  4. Enable sales to close more deals faster

Whether you are a coach or a consultant, the actionable framework in this post will benefit you. 

Let’s start with a story first

Meet Sarah, the marketing manager of a company that provides expertise-based services.

The CEO is yearning for a better brand presence through content marketing.

So, Sarah V1 stepped in. She redesigned the website, rallied subject matter experts for posting blogs, and even enlisted a content writer to help out.

The new website dazzled. But here’s the twist – people got busy, the blogs were few and far between, and didn’t follow any central theme. 

Web traffic remained low.

Likes and shares on social media? Mostly from colleagues.

They reached a conclusion that websites and content can’t do much for their kind of business, and moved on to other tactics.

Then Sarah tried a different approach.

Sarah V2 researched what clients are struggling with most. Some Google search, keyword research, and speaking with her client-facing teams was enough.

She then worked with the experts to craft a weekly content calendar on these specific topics – no more writer’s block or need for being creative.

Sarah V2 also created an expert assessment that became the CTA on every blog.

As you can imagine, publishing relevant content became much easier. As a result, sales reported heightened interest from clients, outreach became more targeted, and website traffic slowly started ticking up.

Their online assessment started to not just be taken online, but sales started using it with clients too. 

And then Sarah V2 got the funds to invest in PR (earned media attention) and paid media (ads, sponsorships etc.) 

How many of us can identify with the Sarah V1? 

In this blog we uncover the secrets of Sarah’s winning strategy.    

First, What is Content Marketing?

“Content marketing is sharing relevant content that is useful to clients so you can attract and engage them into a conversation.”

That’s it. It’s as simple as that.

However most of us find content marketing extremely challenging. We start well but then our efforts stall within a few weeks.

That’s because under the hood, we try to think of and do a lot of things at once (e.g. SEO, email automation, social, top of funnel, bottom of funnel, paid promotions, etc.).

And while they are all important in their own right, they are less important than first nailing down the core purpose of content marketing – “showing how to solve a problem that your target audience faces”.

The sales engine needs to be constantly fueled. And if content marketing is aligned with that, it’ll thrive.

An Actionable Plan for Content Marketing

There are just 3 steps to ensuring that you will successfully execute your content marketing plan and also drive sales results.

  1. Identify the problem you are solving & create a simple model that gives the answer to
    • “How can we measure how well our clients are doing?” and
    • “What would we tell our clients to do?”  
  2. Write a simple, helpful about each of these items. Use case studies, examples, and don’t be afraid to really dig into the topic. 
  3. Let the clients know

As you execute step 2, you can also add more bells and whistles to your posts. These could be optimizing for SEO, creating different formats such as an infographic or a checklist etc. 

Don’t stop doing step 2 and step 3 in a loop until you have addressed all aspects of step 1.

And don’t spend too much time on step 2 either. Your content can be glamorous, but being helpful is more important

Now let’s explore these topics one by one so you have more clarity.

Step 1: Identify the problem & Create a Maturity Assessment / Model

This should come naturally to most of you.

The trick is in taking your knowledge & expertise and translating it into a questionnaire or a checklist. That’s what a maturity model is. You can easily do that using Evalinator.

Here are some examples to better understand this:

  1. A life coach may use a Wheel of Life that measures satisfaction with various dimensions such as family, friends, career etc. Then they would help their clients address the issues. They could also use a DISC or Big 5 Personality traits assessment.
  2. A digital marketing consultant may create a questionnaire measuring how well their clients are at social media marketing. Then they would go about systematically addressing the issues faced by their clients. 
  3. A cloud computing company may create a questionnaire that measures various dimensions of cloud adoption

As an expert helping your clients, you are in the best position to create this questionnaire.

Remember to keep it simple – no more than 8-12 questions, or 3-5 dimensions with 3-4 questions each. The questions should be easy to answer.

Don’t try to cover everything but just the most important items.

As you get engaged with your clients, then you can create more sophisticated questionnaires or needs assessments that will also help sales move the conversations forward. 

Why create an actual assessment?

It’s very useful during client and prospect meetings. It gives your sales team a little more than a presentation to talk to, and so it generates actionable and meaningful follow ups. 

Step 2: Write about each of the items in your maturity model

If you’ve ever had writer’s block, you know how it’s like to look at a blank screen.

However, with the approach outlined in this post, you will say goodbye to writer’s block.

You have already broken the problem down into smaller parts and addressed it in your assessment or maturity model. Now all that is left is to take each part and tell your clients how to address it. 

You can follow this effective format for your blog posts:

  1. Why is this specific topic important (hint: it’s part of your overall questionnaire or model). Provide some statistics if you have them.
  2. Cite a story of someone who successfully overcame this specific issue, or didn’t. This story can be fictional so long as you state that it is fictional.
  3. Explain briefly how one can go about addressing this topic. You can give examples and best practices. Bullet points are ok. Focus on quality, not quantity. Think about it like this: If you were explaining this to someone, how would you do it.  
  4. If you work with any partners who have a relevant product or solution around this, borrow from their material
  5. Don’t be very prescriptive. Instead offer a discovery session to provide more details.

PS: Take the questions in your assessment, put them on 1 page, add image and title, convert to PDF, and you have a checklist! Make it available for download on your website! It’s a lot more than most people do.

Step 3: Let Your Clients & Prospects Know

This step delivers the ROI for you. 

Relying only on SEO needs significant investment of time even if you have something unique to offer.

For example, this blog post is buried deep inside Google search results. No one can easily find it. We think this is a unique take on content marketing, but Google is not very intelligent right now so it doesn’t show it. And we have to look for other channels.

But this is still a long game as much as you’d like quick results. So, don’t ignore SEO, but do these as well:

  1. Share your posts on social media that your customers use. Always include a link back to your checklist, assessment, or blog post
  2. Add a call to action button or link (CTA) in your blogs and website. Point it to your checklist and your assessment. That’s a way to grow your email address list. 
  3. Email your existing clients the material – best to do this using a simple email automation tool like Mailerlite, MailChimp, Kajabi, ConvertKit, or HubSpot
  4. If you have create a lead magnet (a quiz, or a download), then use your email automation to send them the material too
  5. If you have the budget, spend a bit on google or social media ads for your posts. Target them properly. Start with a low budget like $20 a week or so, and expand when you see results.
  6. If you have external listings on directory websites, link them if possible to your checklist landing page, or assessment

The key for all of these is to be consistent but keep looking to improve your reach.

  • Request other people to share your posts.
  • Comment on the posts of influencers in your area of expertise.

If you’d like to be more creative then use a storytelling format

Whatever you choose, get started.  

Next Steps

It needs work but that’s all there is to it – creating a framework, making an assessment or quiz out of it, and then communicating the framework in a way that is helpful to your clients as they try to solve a problem.

This kind of approach also has a psychological aspect to it. It builds trust and positions you as an anchor in your customers’ minds. So they keep coming back to you as they make a decision to buy.

If you want to try out this approach for your business, then get started with a 2 weeks trial with Evalinator

We’re here to help.

Good luck!