Content Marketing Reset: How to Bust Out a Content Map - And Why Your Should!
We've all been there: We pick a date on a calendar and proclaim that our long-awaited content marketing will begin. But within a few days or weeks, with a handful of articles, our best of intentions run out of steam. Call it burn-out, writer's block or distractions (which by now we're grateful for), our content marketing and copy writing efforts die a quick death.
If you really want to add some fortitude to your efforts, with a 6 month road map of topics that are quick to write, plus do it all with best practice style and flair, create a content map first.
Creating a content map is one of the most important steps in content marketing. It allows you to plan your content strategy and make sure that you are creating the right type of content for your audience at each stage of the buying process.
In this article we will show you how to build a content map in 4 easy steps. We'll start by talking about buyer personas, then outline the sales funnel stages, analyze the competition and do some keyword research. Finally, we'll develop a content map that includes all of this information. Hang on, here we go! This might be your all-in guide to content marketing success.
Step 1: Meet Your Customer: Could you pick them out of a police line-up?
Think about your perfect customer or client. Instead of asking who they are as if you're describing a group of people, get more personal, more individual; "Who is that person?"
The answer will vary depending on your industry, offer and the decision maker involved, but you should be able to imagine about 25 individual qualities, characteristics or physical things your perfect customers have in common.
Picture the person in your mind and write down -
What do you know about them in terms of:
Where do they work?
What is their education level?
Do you know their income range?
Are they the key decision maker or are they sorting out the short list for someone else?
What's their psychological profile?
Introspective and analytical who wants all the facts, or a Type-A who wants just the bottom line?
Proper and formal, or casual and laid back?
Do you think your interaction with them should be as a consultant, a fatherly figure or a friend?
What's the problem they want solved that your offer, product or service could possibly help them with?
What frustrates the hell out of them?
What keeps them up at night?
What is their grandest wish or desire?
What do you think are the most appropriate steps in their personal decision making (that will ultimately define your sales funnel steps)?
What do you need to address first?
How do you pique their interest?
What do they want to know that will warm them up to you?
What objections can you imagine they have running through their head?
Is there anything that needs to be said or done after all else has been said that will make them say, "YES!"
You should be so specific during this exercise that anyone reading your persona of the perfect customer could pick them out of a police line-up - or point to them at your next family reunion and say, "You're it! You're my perfect match!"
Caution: There will be those who want to make your persona too broad and general.
That's a huge mistake. I recently asked a professional service business owner, "Who do you work with?"
"Anyone who will listen."
"Wrong answer. Look back at your current business. What commonalities do the bulk of them share?"
"But won't I lose potential clients if I get too specific?"
The fact of the matter is, you're losing out on too many perfect clients if you try to be all things to all people. You can't address a pinpointed audience's objections, fears, concerns and needs if you try to corral them all. Your fence will have too many holes.
Get specific. Get individualistic. Get the perfect client.
If your business offers more than one thing to several different personas, create multiple personas, messages and content marketing campaigns - one for each. But don't try to be perfect for all with one campaign or one message. Your audience will see through that.
Your audience doesn't see themselves as a group. Every one of them sees themselves as an individual with very specific needs and wants. They may even feel like they’re the only ones who feel that way. Write a persona that fits the "individual them".
Step 2: Outline Your Sales Funnel Stages
The reason you started thinking about the sales funnel stages in the step above is because that perfect individual doesn't want to be "sold". (Rarely will you find a person that does.) But they don't mind being led by the hand to a logical conclusion. That's what your sales funnel does.
It walks them, step by step, from the moment they realize they have a problem to taking action and buying your product or service as the solution.
The stages of a sales funnel are:
- Attention: The first stage where you make them aware that you have something
that could help solve their problem. They see you as on their side.
- Interest: The second stage where you get them to take a closer look and
realize that you have what they need.
- Desire: The third stage where they want what you have and see the value in it.
- Action: The fourth stage where they take action and buy your product or service.
Now make your stages fit your persona, not the other way around.
What's going to get their attention? Is it a question; a scenario they are probably living every day? Is it a wish?
How will you build their interest? Will you demonstrate or talk about the features of your service or product? Can you give them a checklist that pairs up with their wishes or needs?
Now make them drool. What can you say that will trip their emotional trigger? They now see that you understand their plight or desire. You've laid out the innovative features of what you have to offer. You should have included (in a preemptive way) anything to overcome objections they may have. So now slam the door shut on their escape or indifference and emotionally connect them to your service or product. Can they see themselves enjoying what you have to offer?
Finally, make your offer drop dead gorgeous. And I don't mean make it cheap. Show and add value urgency and desire with a good, compelling call to action.
Now here's the point to working through the stages of your sales funnel at this point: It, plus your persona, will determine the when, what and where of any content you create going forward in your content strategy.
It will also tell you what you need to develop, and for when, within your content map.
Not all types of content are fit for all stages in the sales funnel. Counting on a case study to do some heavy lifting in the "attention" stage, for example, is poor practice. A good case study will make your audience drool over your solution. They can vicariously see themselves using it through the experience of someone else. And what stage is the "drool" stage above? Ahem...#3: Desire. Using it before this is premature.
Step 3: Analyze Your Competition: Go to your corner and come out fighting, or at least, swiping.
It's time to take a good look at your competition. Like a boxer who watches videos of the opponent, we need to find out what they are doing, how they are doing it, what is working and what isn't working so we don't repeat the same, costly mistakes.
Then we swipe.
We swipe their content topics. Use sites like Buzzsumo to see what is trending for your industry and topics or keywords you know. Find out what is popular within your persona. (HINT: When they can't provide a good bibliography of topics, try Answer Socrates.)
We enter their domain in Spyful or SEMRush to see how much traffic is being siphoned away from you and into their best offer. We also find keywords they are known for, possibly ones that we should consider. And don't forget Keysearch as a major keyword tool.
We also pay attention to the competition's sales funnel, offers and types of content that are popular; infographics, ebooks, white papers, case studies, etc. And in which stage are they used?
And finally we look at how they are advertising. Are they relying on SEO, or do they throw in PPC or social media marketing? How much are they paying, and what keywords are emphasized in paid advertising versus organic search? Are they paying to have the world find their content? (You should regardless of what the competition is doing.)
Anything you can learn, swipe or deploy from your competition is fair in love and war. Just don't run afoul of copyright laws or duplicate content. Google will slap you silly.
Step 4: Pairing Everything Together for Your Content Map: Turning on the bluetooth for a seamless customer experience.
Up to this point you have a lot of pieces; a persona, a mapped out sales funnel, keywords, a few popular topics, an idea of the types of content that resonate with your audience... It's time to pair it all together in a content map. Here’s your template:
There you have it;
Numerous topics laid out before you, itching to be unleashed on your audience.
A sales funnel that leads your audience down the path to a very logical conclusion - one they'd feel foolish to abandon or ignore.
A list of the types of content you need for various stages, allowing you to work with graphic artists, copywriters and those who post on social media or on your website so the army of you keeps on marching in a timely manner.
Keywords which pair up with your topics, advertising and meta descriptions and tags.
Timelines and deadlines.
So who writes your articles? Who does your copywriting? We have good news!
Putting together your content map doesn't have to take mountains of time. A few hours and you can be filling in the spreadsheet for Step 4. But it will save you countless days, tired eyes from staring at a blank scream with a frozen brain that suffers from writer's block, and buckets of frustration when it comes to content marketing.
It will also avoid another content marketing initiative that dies a quick death due to, well...being too damn hard to keep going.
But whether you or we write your content, the content map has to be created to provide a smart direction and a sea of best practices in terms of:
A string of ongoing popular topics,
Connected at the right time and place to your sales funnel,
With keywords that reach your perfect clients or customers,
Within the types of content your audience will appreciate,
Leading to a solid, convincing call to action.
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