We’re already approaching Q2 of 2020. Just a few months back, as the New Year’s ball dropped, you vowed to make 2020 your year for planning content that your customers couldn’t resist. Ok, maybe that was the last thing on your mind, but just go with it. With your killer content, resistance would be futile, you promised.
Then Monday morning came after your holiday break.
Even after gulping down about a gallon of coffee and devouring a plate of donuts, crickets.
The truth is, inspiration rarely comes from a bolt of lightning out of a clear blue sky. It takes planning – and content planning starts with the basics.
First, Grab a Generic Calendar
Looking at a calendar of the months ahead – even if it’s a nearly blank content calendar – can give you a framework to jump-start the creative side of your brain. As you look at the seasons and holidays that punctuate the year, ideas often come pouring out.
Let’s say you look ahead a bit into May. You see Easter and the U.S. Tax Day both staring you in the face. What can’t you work into irresistible content with both bunnies and personal finances?
- Like “2020 Color Trends to Wear on Easter Sunday” for a fashion brand
- Like “Your 2020 Essential Tax Preparation Playlist” for a music streaming service
You get the picture. The human brain loves organization. A little structure.
It’s enough to make you fall in love with content planning all over again, isn’t it? Once you pencil in a few seasonal ideas, let’s move on to noteworthy business events, milestones or upcoming industry happenings.
Now, Grab a Corporate Calendar
Most corporate planning for the year has probably already happened at this point, so you should have a pretty good idea of rough dates for things like new product launches, upcoming conferences/events, or corporate themes that you’re tasked with covering.
Now, brainstorming around these types of initiatives might not seem near as fun as the previous examples, but that’s where your creativity comes in. Remember that our job is to bring our audiences’ needs and desires into the equation. For example, why should they care about our “Q3 corporate theme” which revolves around how we’re making our products and processes more sustainable?
Well, perhaps it was our customers who told us that was important to them. So now there’s an expectation and we need to make sure we’re telling the behind-the-scenes stories of the changes we’re making. Put your documentary hat on and start planning those stories.
The key here is four-fold:
- Identify your industry/company’s happenings
- For each noteworthy event, define the “why should our audience care” question
- Define how you could best deliver those stories
- Start planning and scheduling your execution of each
Fill in the Gaps
Between seasons, holidays and corporate initiatives, you should have a content calendar with lots of meat on its bones. But you still have a way to go.
One of the great things about leveraging a visual calendar is the ease in which you can clearly see holes in your schedule. One of the best ways to start filling those gaps is to brainstorm ideas that are related to all the things you’ve already flushed out.
As your teams read your ideas, sparks fly from creative mind to creative mind as they think up topics and titles of their own that tie into your existing ideas. Soon, you’ll have a more-than-full calendar that you can whittle down into a coherent content strategy.
One that addresses the needs of each one of your target personas. You do have them, don’t you?
Revisit (or Pay a Visit to) Your Buyer Personas
If you haven’t created a list of the types of people most likely to buy your goods and services, it’s time to start. If you have, but you haven’t looked at your content analytics for a while, it’s time for another look. You might just find a couple of new markets that you might want to target during the coming year.
Learn all you can about your target customer groups:
- Their demographics
- Their social media likes
- Their online behavior
- Their previous purchases
- And, most of all – what keeps them up at night
Once you have all that information, many content marketers create fictional personas to represent each of these groups. It helps you and your team focus on each target group when you can put a “face” on it.
When you and your team can step into the shoes of your customers, it helps you craft content that speaks to their greatest needs. When you do that, believe me, they’ll sit up and listen.
Pull on Their Heartstrings
Whether or not your content marketing includes videos, you can learn a lot from someone whose livelihood depends on making videos customers can’t resist. Matthew Pierce, in his interview with the Content Marketing Institute’s Marcia Johnston, shares some of his secrets.
All of his strategies revolve around one theme: designing content that pulls on potential customers’ heartstrings. When customers can identify with the content, they are more likely to engage with it.
- Make each piece of content into a compelling story: Everyone loves a great story. Set the stage with your customers’ most vexing problem, and then resolve that emotional conflict through action that sets the customer back on the path to victory.
- Use the appropriate emotional tone for the content: Whether you want people to identify with the underdog in a dramatic rags-to-riches story, get excited over what they can accomplish with your product in hand, or roll on the floor laughing at a play on words, choose the one that best meets your customers’ needs. For example, Kmart’s hilarious “Ship My Pants” video ad would have been tone-deaf for a high-end brand. High drama for a toilet paper brand, likewise, would be out of place.
- Use the highest-quality vehicle you can afford to convey your message: In video and audio content, Pierce points out, music and dialogue are powerful vehicles to set the tone for the piece. Similarly, use quality copy to get the message across in written content, punctuated with visual images to hold your audience’s attention.
- Don’t get lost in the weeds: Yes, you might be a high-tech AI firm that wants to showcase all the ins and outs of the technology to its customers. But, unless your customer personas include computer geeks, skip the long explanations. All your customers want to know is that it will help them earn more revenue and won’t throw their employees out of a job. Keep your content’s flow moving, no matter what format it is in. For more technical deep dives, consider writing a white paper for those who want to hear more technical details.
- Put a human face on your content: Creating memorable characters, such as Progressive’s Flo and Jamie, is certainly easier in video and audio content. Yet, think about creative ways that you can give even written content a human face. Consider using your customer personas as characters – or with permission, use actual case studies and testimonials from actual customers. Doing so will allow your readers to identify with the people you feature.
When the Well Runs Dry, Hold Brainstorming Sessions
We’re not talking about boring idea-sharing here. Introducing fun exercises into the brainstorming mix shuts off the fear and turns on the creativity in even the shyest member of your team.
Whether it’s giving your team a short burst of time to think up a wealth of ideas, as in the “10-20-30 exercise,” Bob Eberie’s SCAMPER exercise, or other brainstorming games you can dig up, keeping things lighthearted can really jump-start the creative side of your team’s collective brains.
Use Customer Feedback and Comments as Springboards for Content
Who doesn’t want to have those with whom they do business listen to them? When you incorporate customer feedback into your content, it’s powerful business.
Whether it’s updating your website’s FAQ section, actually responding to comments on social media and third-party reviews, or creating an article that deals with typical customer objections, customers love to know that their comments aren’t falling on deaf ears.
Since the whole point of content marketing is to provide solutions for your customers’ toughest problems, listening to your customers and then creating content around what they tell you is one of the best ways to get their attention.
When you plan your content around what interests your customers – and frame it in a story that gets them involved on an emotional level – they won’t be able to resist it. To discover more about how to streamline that process, get in touch with our Divvy HQ team today.