Content Marketing Made Simple

In this short post we’ll show you how you can address the biggest hurdles to content marketing and put in place a humming engine that delivers solid results.

Consider this story. Sarah (name and some specifics changed for confidentiality) was the product marketer of a very innovative product. She wanted to put together a marketing plan spanning a full 3 months of robust prospect engagement to help generate leads. She started with a great blog introducing the problem that the clients were facing. But then, she ran into a problem. She and the product team got too busy to brainstorm and write the next content item. Every time they met they went back and forth on what to write on, but couldn’t reach consensus. As a result, Sarah failed to execute her content marketing plan. Her lead generation goals for the quarter were not met. 

The next quarter, Sarah followed a different approach. The new plan started by brainstorming with the product team a simple maturity model  of the solution area that she would make available on the website. Then she included titles and outlines of 3 blog posts that would elaborate on the key items in the maturity model. The final part of the campaign would be a webinar to recap everything and reiterate the call to action (a product trial). As a result, she was able to set clear and practical expectations for her team based on their core expertise. She was able to execute the campaign and exceed her lead generation goals. The simple online assessment provided Sarah with the advantage of a well defined framework for product marketing. 

In this post, we will show you how to put a plan like this into action.     

First, What is Content Marketing?

Let’s get on the same page first.

“Content marketing is simply using relevant content pieces with the singular purpose of showing how to solve a problem your target audience faces so you can attract and convert them.”

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 your target audience faces”.

It follows that the reason most content marketing plans are abandoned after just a couple of items is because it takes a little while for the sales engine to start turning, but we run out of ideas on what to write well before that happens. Reformatting the same content material can only be done a few times.

If you can identify with this problem, then read on. In this post we will outline a simple technique of first putting in place the basics of content marketing. Everything else will be effortless from that point on.

The Basic Framework of Content Marketing

There are just 2 steps to ensuring that you will successfully execute your content marketing plan.

  1. Identify the problem you are solving & create a simple questionnaire that gives the answer to “how well is the client doing?”  
  2. Write about each of the items in the questionnaire

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 until you have addressed all aspects of step 1

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

Step 1: Identify the problem & Create a Maturity 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.

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.
  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 10 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. 

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.

Remember that the singular purpose of you writing anything is “showing how to solve a problem your target audience faces”.

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

You can follow this standard format for your 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. Don’t be very prescriptive. Instead offer a discovery session to provide more details.

Next Steps

So that’s all there is to it – creating a framework, and then explaining the framework in a way that is helpful to your clients as they try to solve a problem. Once you have this part under control, you can feel free to focus on other things such as SEO, other formats such as checklists and infographics etc. 

This kind of approach also has 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.   

Read more(consultants, coaches) and get started with your online maturity model with Evalinator!  




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