They sit down and start brainstorming a bunch of topics. Which can work. But, it can also be a big time waster (especially if the entrepreneurs get stuck and have no idea what they want to create). There’s also a high likelihood they don’t end up creating content their ideal client wants to consume. (Which is the whole point of putting a content marketing plan together in the first place.)
Or, in some cases, they skip the plan altogether and simply jump in and create whatever tickles their fancy that day.
Again, this can sometimes be successful strategy. (It wasn’t for me.) But, I think in most cases what you typically end up is a content marketing plan that’s hit or miss. (Truthfully, more miss than hit.)
So, is there a better way to create a content marketing plan? Why yes! And, where it starts is by making sure you have a solid foundation in place.
Not only are you more likely to create a successful blog or podcast or video channel or whatever you’re creating because you’ve focused on building a solid foundation, but it’s also going to be soooo much easier for you to create content on a regular and consistent basis (which really is the key to creating momentum and results around your marketing).
Plus, just sitting down and creating a content marketing plan for a year (or even for the next quarter) can feel overwhelming. That’s why I think taking a few steps back and getting your foundation in place BEFORE you create a content marketing plan is so essential.
And, the best part? Having this foundation in place will help focus ALL of your marketing efforts, not just creating a content marketing plan.
Without further ado, let’s dive into these three crucial steps.
1. Be clear on precisely what your expertise is (and isn’t).
If you’re a new entrepreneur or new to whatever it is you’re doing, this can feel daunting. It can also feel daunting if you are like me and have a bad case of “fraud” syndrome, or “I have to read one more book or get one more certification before I’m an expert” syndrome.
I’m not going to give you the same advice you may have heard from other gurus, which is if you know 80% more than your ideal client, you’re an expert.
While technically that may be true, in practice that’s a horrid platform to build your content marketing plan on.
Your ideal prospects are NOT (let me repeat NOT) looking for the same, watered- down content everyone else and their brother who are also “80% experts” are putting out. They are NOT looking for content that is basically regurgitated from a book or a program.
So, what DO you do then, if you’re new to your business and you don’t have the level of expertise as other experts who have been out there for a decade or more?
First off, there’s no law that says your content marketing plan can only include content YOU create. What about using other people’s expertise? You could start a podcast and interview other experts. You could write blog posts that quote posts and books from other experts (giving full credit of course).
Over time, as you grow your business, you’ll start to find your voice and your style of teaching., and as you do, you can start creating content from your voice.
And, quite honestly, THAT’S what your ideal prospects are looking for. They’re looking for you because they want to hear how YOU perceive the content and YOUR angles and how you interpret it from YOUR unique life experiences and stories.
Your ideal clients are looking for you and your unique way of communicating the message they need to hear.
There are very few things that are “brand new” right now. But, what IS new is your unique spin on similar ideas. Right now, you may not be feeling brave enough or comfortable enough to truly step into your unique voice. That’s okay. While you’re developing that, see what you can do to leverage other people’s expertise.
2. Be clear on precisely who you’re serving.
Your ideal client is going to influence how you present your content.
For instance, let’s say you’re a money expert. You’re going to present content around money very differently depending on whether you’d rather work with entrepreneurs or employees.
What if you’re a relationship expert? You’re going to see things through completely different angles depending on whether you’re working with men or women, and whether your ideal clients are 20-year-old women or 50-year-old divorcees.
That’s why getting clear on who your ideal clients are and what is keeping them up at night—and making sure the content you’re creating is relevant to them (not to mention something they want to consume)—is super important.
3. Be clear on precisely what you offer them that no one else is, and why they should come to you.
Again, if you’re new, you may find this one a little scary.
But, here’s the thing: If you can’t communicate what makes you unique, you WILL struggle in your business.
Your ideal clients are going to want to know why they should plunk down their hard-earned money to work with you versus someone else. And, if you can’t tell them, they may wonder if they can get what you offer cheaper somewhere else.
Because, you see, if you aren’t able to explain to them your value, they’re going to make their buying decision based on whether or not they feel like they can afford what you’re charging.
If you make it clear what your value is and how what you do is different from everyone else, then price becomes less of an issue. You can’t be price-shopped, because no one else offers the same value you are providing.
Once you know this, you’ll have a much better idea of the sort of content that will resonate most with your ideal client. (This doesn’t mean you won’t want to do some testing on the best content for your ideal clients, but you’ll definitely have a solid place to start with your content marketing plan.)
So, you may have noticed that all three of these steps have one thing in common, which is … (drum roll)
To me, clarity is one of those things that just doesn’t sound all that sexy, but yet, the more clear your are, the easier everything is.
I know for myself I prefer the “just jump in and figure it out later” approach. However, I’ve definitely had mixed results with that. Some things have worked out great and others … not so much.
While I think you can also go the other way and spend TOO much time in research and preparation and “getting ready to get ready,” I also think there’s a happy medium between getting clear and just getting started.
If you want to see my specific strategy on how I got clear before creating my second blog, I walk you through it here.
And, if you’d like to dig more deeply into online marketing, including putting together an online marketing plan, my “Love-Based Online Marketing” book may be perfect for you.