When it comes to sharing what you know, there’s no better way to build credibility, authority, and trust than with content marketing.
Too often, content marketing is defined as simply writing content and publishing it. But a good content strategy goes much deeper than that.
In this article, not only will you come away with a better understanding of what content marketing is, you’ll also work through five content strategy exercises that will help you come up with a virtually unlimited supply of great ideas for your content marketing.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing involves creating and sharing great content about your brand. But not in a direct, sales-y way. Instead of talking at your prospects about your product, you talk to them, in a way that’s designed to invite discussion and stimulate interest.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, 96% of successful B2B content marketers say content marketing helps their audience view their company as a trusted resource. They cultivate trust by creating authoritative content that generously shares their knowledge.
You can do the same. But you’ve got to do more than just publish content. You need to create enticing content, content that piques curiosity and leaves users wanting to learn more. Here are five content strategy exercises you can use to create your own trust-building content.
Content strategy exercises for entrepreneurs
Before you ever start searching things like “how often to post blog content,” you’ll need to have a plan of action. It starts with brainstorming and continues with content planning and creation.
Brainstorming is the process of jotting down all your ideas on a piece of paper (or screen) without reviewing or scrutinizing anything. Before you can start creating content, you need to brainstorm the topics you could (or should) cover in your content. But idea generation is hard when you’re starting from zero.
So, the first step in brainstorming potential content ideas is to ask yourself what it is you want your content to do. What is your ultimate goal?
Stating that and then working backwards from there can help you come up with content ideas that don’t directly push your product, but rather help position it as the reader’s natural solution: a conclusion they reached thanks to your content.
Think about who’s actually consuming your content:
- Who are your user personas?
- Who are the people that are ultimately making the decision to buy?
- How do they engage with your content?
- What type of content do they typically engage with?
Keep in mind that we’re not just talking about the written word here: images, videos, infographics, white papers, comparison charts: All of it is content. What’s important is creating content that your ideal customer will engage with.
Content Strategy Exercise
Open a spreadsheet or doc on your computer. At the top of the page, write your core topic. If you cover large subtopics, list them as well.
Below that, write out your goal for your content. Are you trying to push people to a landing page where you can get them into your pipeline? Are you trying to add people to your email list? Get clear about what you’re trying to achieve with content marketing.
Finally, start jotting down all the content ideas that come to mind. Ideally, they’ll relate to your core topics and could help you achieve your goal. But now is not the time to judge your ideas.
When brainstorming, don’t censor, erase, or judge your ideas. List everything that comes to mind. Once you’ve finished your list, you can go back and clean it up, setting priorities and noting your best content ideas.
Without a plan, all those ideas will just sit there. So your next step is to create a plan that maps out your process for getting your content in front of your target audience.
It’s a good idea to document this process. Essay writer specialists use this written content strategy which helps you create a sort of “quality assurance” while ensuring your content is:
- On point with promoting your objectives
- Free from spelling and grammatical errors
- Interesting to read
- Able to motivate users to take the next step
Content Strategy Exercise
Think about the process you’ll go through to write, edit, publish, and promote each piece of content. Then write it down, so you can consistently get it done. For example, you might go through these stages as you develop your content:
- Idea generation
In a project management tool like Asana, create a board that has a column for each stage of your content creation process.
Then create a card for each piece of content you’d like to create in the next few months. Include whatever information is helpful to you. At the very least, include:
- Keyword or topic
- Type of content
- Due date
Remember, when it comes to content strategy, there is no one-size-fits-all method that works for everyone. Use what you’re most comfortable with and what you’re most familiar with. The point is to have a plan in place and follow it while maintaining high quality standards and a consistent publishing routine.
One of the backbones of your content strategy is content pillars, in-depth pieces of content that share your knowledge and proprietary systems. They may be ebooks, guides, white papers, case studies, reports, or any other high-value content format.
Ideally, you’ll have one content pillar for each core topic you teach in your knowledge business. It should cover that topic in exhaustive detail, making you and your company the definitive authority on the subject.
What’s great about content pillars is that because they are so detailed and thorough, other site owners will link to them instead of trying to recreate (or compete) with them. That means the time you invest in creating your pillar pieces is time well-spent — the more sites that link to you and your content pillars, the more your authority and recognition grow within your chosen niche.
How do you differentiate between a content pillar and an ordinary piece of content? Besides being much more in-depth and detailed, content pillars are designed to go straight to the heart of your audience’s most pressing need. They’re also updated frequently.
As an example, someone searching for “how to do SEO” is probably just getting started in search engine optimization. They may be researching information but aren’t ready to buy an in-depth knowledge product. Conversely, someone who searches for “how do I rank a brand new site in Google in 2 weeks” is ready to take action.
They’re more likely to enter your pipeline and buy. Your content pillars not only attract this audience, they introduce them to your branded solutions.
Content Strategy Exercise
Look through the brainstorm you did in Stage 1 above, and try to group your ideas into categories. Ideally, all of your ideas will relate to two to five core topics that support everything you teach.
List these high-level pillar topics. Now brainstorm ideas for a content pillar that you could create for each of them.
Once you have ten or more ideas for each topic, choose the one you think is best. Decide on the format — ebook, advanced guide, long-form blog post, for example. Then add this pillar piece to your content workflow, along with a deadline for getting it done.
This is where most content strategy exercises will have you start. But that’s like going out and buying a brand new bike when you’ve never learned to ride one. To be strategic, you need to start with a plan.
The good news is you aren’t restricted to blog posts or written content. Any and all of these content types form part of your content marketing strategy, including:
- Blog posts - Can be long or short, detailed or small bite-sized tips. Easily shareable on social media and on your own website.
- E-books - More in-depth, targeted and precise content on a given topic. Often given away as a free download in exchange for the user’s name and email address.
- Case studies - Charts, graphics, and other supplementing information that details how your company solved a particular customer’s problem and what the end result looked like. Case studies are often used at the bottom of the funnel to prove your experience and expertise in your niche.
- Templates - Done-for-you examples of information where the user simply has to fill in the blank or edit what’s there to achieve the end result.
- Infographics - Graphical representations of bite-sized facts, statistics, or details about your given niche, or the process of achieving an end goal.
- Videos - Videos can be used to share the same information you might share in blog posts, including how-to tutorials, examples, walkthroughs, and much more.
- Podcasts - A digital, audio “deep dive” on a particular topic. Podcasts often form part of a series where information is shared on a given topic.
- Social Media - Frequent, short posts related to your business, mission, and core topic. Social content shares product reviews, random ideas, tips, and strategies, and usually invites users to respond with their two-cents. Social media content strategy is more about sharing and inviting discussion than simply throwing a bunch of content at the wall and hoping some of it sticks.
Of course, with so many content channels available, it can be tempting to try to use them all. Some brands do. But it’s difficult to do content marketing well when you spread yourself too thin. So we’re going to pick just one channel to start with.
Content Strategy Exercise
Decide on one type of content you’d like to publish on a regular basis. To make your decision, think about two things:
- What your particular audience likes
- What’s easiest for you to create on a regular basis
Three formats that work well for knowledge entrepreneurs are podcasts, blogs, and video channels. Choose one, then set a schedule for yourself.
Will you create a new piece of content each week or will you publish one or two a month? There’s no right answer. Choose a frequency that you can fulfill consistently from now on.
Niche content and specialization
Content strategy is equal parts knowing what to post and where to post it so that it resonates and gains traction with your target customer. That’s why it makes sense to choose narrow, focused topics rather than broad, generic ones.
Niche content, or content that’s focused on a small subcategory of a larger topic, can help you stand out in the knowledge commerce world. Look for a slice of what you do that no one else talks about. Make that your focus, and you’ll quickly be seen as a thought leader in your field.
Let’s look at an example.
Let’s say your core topic is internet marketing, but you’ve decided to focus squarely on how to market your videos on YouTube. You can go into minute detail on every aspect of YouTube marketing: the type of equipment you need, how to shoot and edit your videos professionally, how to create a channel, how to get subscribers, and much more.
Content Strategy Exercise
Go back over your content strategy and look for the topics and ideas that don’t squarely support your core topics. Strike them off the list.
Review again, this time to see if you can niche down your content plan to one or two narrow topics. How can you focus your content strategy as tightly as possible, so you can quickly become known as the expert in your field?
Become a content production powerhouse
Justin Welsh is an entrepreneur, investor, and creator with over 176,000 followers on Twitter and a LinkedIn audience as well. How has he grown his following? A simple content structure that streamlines his content production so he can engage with his followers. Watch his presentation to learn his easy to follow framework:
Now it’s your turn!
Last, but certainly not least, one of the core questions you’ll have to ask yourself as you develop your content strategy is where and how to go about publishing it. The good news is Kajabi can help.
Kajabi is your one-stop-shop for building, promoting, and scaling your knowledge business. Using our vast array of tools and services, you can create and share your content through a variety of channels, including blog posts, your podcast, your email content, and content pillars, both gated and ungated.
But it all starts with the five content strategy exercises we’ve talked about in this guide:
- Brainstorming your best content ideas and topics
- Planning your content creation
- Creating your first content pillar
- Setting a regular publishing schedule
- Find your niche topics, so you can stand out as an expert in your field
Want more help growing your knowledge business? Join us for live Q&A webinars every weekday. Kajabi’s Q&A webinar series will help you learn everything you need to know to succeed as a knowledge entrepreneur, from creating and selling your products to Kajabi themes, pipelines, webinars, and the Kajabi Partner Program.