Sometimes the well just runs dry. To avoid those moments, you need a content planning strategy that helps you find a way to prime the creative well and get your planning back on track.
To pump out the kind of content that will consistently inform and inspire your target audience, sometimes you need to step outside the traditional box. Read on—and you’ll discover a wealth of unconventional strategies that will transform your content planning.
Get Thirsty for Cutting-Edge Ideas
Stephen King put it best, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” Producing content for a company or organization is no different.
Before you sit down to plan your content calendar, dive into as much industry-related material as you can get your hands, as blogging guru Adam Connell advises. Encourage your team to do likewise.
Go beyond the usual white papers and competitors’ sites. Search wide and far—from academic papers in your field to podcasts and YouTube videos that entertain even as they inform. Research reports can clue you in to breakthroughs in your field, while videos, forums, blog posts, and even advertisements can get your creative juices flowing.
As you read or listen, don’t focus on “how can I use this content to promote my products and services?” Instead, focus on learning all you can.
Request meetings with leading figures in your field for their advice and perspective. If you can’t get a meeting with them, try attending industry meetings or webinars where they’re speaking.
Jot Down Your Ideas
As you read, listen, and watch, keep a notebook or note-taking app by your side. Heck, keep it by your side in bed. If you’re anything like me, some of your best ideas come to you at 2:00 a.m.
You think you’ll remember them in the morning. You won’t. Write it down.
Trust me, you’ll sleep better, too. Having your notes in physical form frees you from worry about forgetting them. Or beating yourself up about the big one that got away.
Use those ideas as a springboard for content collaboration sessions with your team. When your team shares the ideas they’ve come up with through their own, the floodgates will open.
Take a Break—or Even a Vacation
Whether it’s a team retreat or going off to some remote island on your own, you need to take time off from the content planning process.
The more physical the activity, the better. Exercise doesn’t just tune up your body. It tunes up your creative engine like almost nothing else on earth.
Just make sure you have a notebook and pen at the side of the pool. Ideas often strike while your mind is a thousand miles away.
Step Outside of Your Cultural Comfort Zone
No matter what your business, you need to speak your customers’ language, as my fellow co-founder Brock Stechman puts it. Even in the US and Canada, language varies by region. Find a way to use language that reaches your customers’ hearts as well as their heads—without patronizing them.
Whether or not you’re a global company, there are plenty of people within the US border whose primary language is something other than English. If your target customers number among those populations, consider providing content in their native language, too.
Make sure, though, that you have a native speaker that also understands English create the final draft of the content for you. Some translations, though correct word-for-word renditions, might have funny—even offensive—meanings in your customers’ native languages.
Personalize Your Content
Today’s consumers not only want—but expect—personalized content. When you create content that makes your target customer think, “How in the world did she know I needed insight into (insert business challenge)?” you know you’ve nailed it.
Unless we’re talking about segmented navigation, popup ads or emails, you can’t customize content for everyone who visits your website. At least with today’s technology.
The trick to personalization is to identify and get know your specific target audiences. And then craft killer content experiences that each audience will eat up.
Lay Out Your Content Goals
Just like traveling, content planning works best when you know where you want to go, as blogging expert Ryan Robinson points out. Otherwise, your content will wander around in virtual circles, attracting few—if any—of your target customers.
Before you start conjuring concepts or headlines, take a couple of minutes to define what you want it to accomplish. That way, the ideas you ultimately identify have a clear path to results. Remember the following:
- Be specific – For example, if you’re a medical equipment manufacturer and you want to publish an article that shows healthcare providers how they can solve diagnostic challenges more easily, your goal might be to have a set number of providers download a more in-depth ebook that lays out the solution in more detail.
- Align your content goals with those of the business itself – A music studio that posts professionally played demos of its arrangements might measure success by how many sheet music orders each posted piece received, while a social media post from a charitable organization might measure success in the number of volunteer signups the post garnered.
- Write your goals down – Note each campaign’s goal on your editorial calendar so that everyone on the team knows where you’re headed with each piece.
Use Keyword Research to Narrow Down Content Choices
Each of your target customer segments will search for content that solves whatever challenges they face. Narrow down the words they are likely to use when they search for information.
Make these groups of words the springboard for your content. Make sure that the most important search terms appear prominently in your title, meta description, and the first paragraph of any written content.
It’s not just for search engines. Think about how you look at search results.
If what you’re searching for appears in the title and meta description of a result, you’re more likely to choose it than one in which you don’t see the searched-for keywords in the title.
Simplify their search–and solve their problems in your content–and you’ll be well on your way toward building interest in what you have to offer. To learn more about how you can simplify and streamline your content planning strategy, get in touch with the DivvyHQ team today.