[Lacy stands confidently looking at the camera against a black background. She is a white woman with curled hair and deep red lips. Her eyebrow is raised. Beside her in large bold font says, "40 things I know about content marketing - part 1". In the bottom right is The Content Direction Agency's logo.]

40 Things I Know About Content Marketing

In honor of my 40th birthday:

  1. Blogging isn’t dead.
  2. Not all blogging is content marketing.
  3. Creating content without a big picture strategy is frustrating, inefficient, and frequently ineffective.
  4. Creating a content strategy isn’t as difficult (or expensive) as you might think.
  5. The secret weapon for building a content strategy is an editorial calendar.
  6. When you’re creating a content strategy, you work BACKWARDS from what your goal is for your business.
  7. Starting from what you want the content to do for your business will help you create better content.
  8. Then you look at who the content is intended to reach.
  9. Once you have those two bits understood, you put in the big dates in your business into your editorial calendar (ie: sales and promotions) and work backwards from those big dates to create content that will lead people to a sale.
  10. If we imagine that our ideal customer is on one side of a river, and a sale with us is on the other side, each piece of content is like a rock in the river, helping the customer make their way to the sale.
  11. If there are too few rocks (pieces of content) the customer will struggle to get all the way to the sale.
  12. If the rocks (pieces of content) are thrown in at random, same deal.
  13. But, if the content rocks are thoughtfully placed and evenly spaced, it makes it much easier for the customer to get to the sale!
  14. You can use the classic AIDA copywriting formula to plan out your content, too.
  15. AIDA stands for attention, interest, desire, and action you can focus pieces of content around one (or more) of these stages as part of a customer journey.
  16. AIDA maps itself pretty well to the customer journey in general.
  17. I used to think the number 1 problem small business owners had with their blog was speaking to the wrong audience.
  18. Now the number 1 problem I see is not promoting your content.
  19. One of the easiest models for producing content for multiple channels (ie: email, blog, social media, etc.) is the hub and spoke model:
  20. The hub in this case is a piece of long-form content, usually a blog post, podcast, or video.
  21. The spokes are the short content created for any other channels you may use, like social media, email, etc.
  22. In this model, all the spokes point back to the hub, which has a strong call to action.
  23. (And that’s probably the number 2 biggest problem I see small biz bloggers make: not having a strong call to action.)
  24. The hub and spoke model is good for small businesses who don’t have an entire marketing team that can create different messages for a bunch of different channels.
  25. And, generally speaking, the hub and spoke model is the most effective at communicating a message (especially when it comes to driving sales) for small businesses.
  26. The hub and spoke model also makes it easier to outsource all or part of the process so that a small business owner can get back to doing what they do best.
  27. And, P.S. it’s probably more affordable than you think to outsource some or all of your content marketing.
  28. BUT, before you can (successfully) outsource any content creation, you have to get clear on your brand fundamentals, like brand voice, messaging, brand stories, etc.
  29. Speaking of brand voice, I firmly believe that no matter how famous (or not famous) or how expensive (or cheap) a copy or content writer is, if they can’t write in your brand voice, it’s not a good fit.
  30. SEO is vitally important for some businesses… and less important (or effective) for other types of businesses.
  31. Good SEO content is written for the human first and Google second.
  32. Understanding your ideal customer is VITAL to do good SEO; otherwise you’re going to spend a lot of time and energy on topics that won’t work.
  33. The best blogs are vehicles for thought leadership content.
  34. Thought leadership content, as I define it, is any content intended to influence the conversation in your industry.
  35. Having and sharing new and interesting ideas is the fastest way to get noticed and grow an audience with content.
  36. But to have new and interesting ideas, you have to prioritize the time and space to actually do the deep thinking; and no, this part isn’t something you can outsource.
  37. Most business owners would get better results by outsourcing some or all of their marketing as soon as they can afford to.
  38. Business owners who believe that no one else can write their copy are probably right — because they believe it; they won’t be able to accept any small deviations in voice or tone to accept the bigger benefit of not doing the work themselves.
  39. Even the very best marketing plan and execution cannot save a broken business; get the foundations right first.
  40. Apps, channels, trends, and tactics come and go, but content marketing has been around for 100+ years and isn’t going anywhere.

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