What IS Content Marketing?
And What Goes in a Marketing Plan?
First things first. Let’s make sure we’re all working off the same definition of content marketing.
Sometimes people say digital marketing, sometimes content marketing, but what does it actually mean? Digital marketing is anything that happens in the online world. Think email or social media ads vs radio and print ads. Content marketing is not actually synonymous with digital marketing, though we confess to sometimes using the terms interchangeably.
Content marketing is any of the marketing tactics that involve providing value, whether that’s educational or entertaining. It’s creating “content” whether that content is a blog post like this one, an email newsletter, videos, or something else entirely. You could technically do content marketing that’s not digital, but many traditional formats like magazines have now switched to digital and it’s becoming less common and remains much more expensive to produce because of print costs.
So often people think of marketing tactics as disparate elements. Someone tells them they need an email list or an Instagram account, so they start posting without any idea why other than “you’re supposed to.”
It adds a lot of clarity to look at marketing as a whole and pick tactics that fit your goals at different stages of your interactions with potential customers. There are a ton of different methodologies, but we like using HubSpot’s version. In this example, there are 4 phases that represent your customer’s relationship to you and the strategies you use to move them to the next level.
Attract is the very first phase and at this level, people don’t know you yet. It’s like walking into a networking event and shaking hands. Because people don’t know you/haven’t heard of you, you can’t expect them to come visit your website or sign up for your email list. You have to find them where they’re already hanging out and convince them to start visiting you on some of your other platforms. Some common Attract tactics:
- Social Media
- Events & Webinars (hosted by other people)
In this next phase, Convert, your audience knows who you are. Despite the name, you’re not actually trying to sell to them yet — you’re trying to convince them to engage with you in some way. The “conversion” is for them to take action by interacting with your content. Convert tactics can include:
- Events & Webinars (hosted by you)
Now it’s time to make the sale! In the Close phase, you’ve gotten to know your audience (and vice versa) well enough to start pitching to them. When they’re starting to consider hiring/buy from you, they’re looking for examples of work and proof that you have the expertise they need. Some Close tactics include:
- Website/Landing Pages
- Testimonials & Case Studies
Why is there another phase? If the sale was successful, shouldn’t it be done? No! 2 important things to note here: 1) It costs way less in time and resources to reconvert a previous client than a new one and 2) The best source of new clients is referrals from previous clients. So as we’re wrapping up a sale or project, it’s very important to leave your clients with a good impression. The Delight phase is all about providing extra value or polish. That might be a pocket folder to put important documents in or an offboarding meeting to ensure the client got value out of working with you. Some Delight tactics include:
- Freebies/Extra Value Adds
Choosing Which Tactics to Use
So you’ve got a huge list of tactics, but you still don’t know what to do with them! It’s time to make sure you know your target audience. Where are they hanging out and how are they looking for information? Then think about the best platforms and vehicles to deliver that information to them. Specialized industry? Maybe find blogging platforms or conferences in that niche that you can sponsor or contribute content to. Not that active on social media but good at researching their own problems? Do a deep dive into keywords and optimize for SEO.
Don’t just pick random tactics for each phase. Think about how they fit together. If you’re blogging for the Convert phase, then use social media to share those posts to push people from Attract to Convert. Most of your blogs should have some kind of call to action, as well, to keep building that engagement. Maybe it’s to schedule a free consultation, or maybe it’s to download a free piece of content. You know your audience best (and if you don’t, talk to them and find out!).
Other Elements to Include In Your Marketing Plan
We throw this term around a lot, but it’s pretty simple! After you decide what tactics you’re going to use, pick a schedule for them to be posted. Maybe your social media posts will go out 3-5x per week and the blog will be once a month. Setting up a content calendar will help you map out tasks to make sure they actually get done each month AND prevent you from feeling that blank canvas anxiety.
You can take it a step further by deciding which social media themes will be posted on which days. Picking social media themes (or any content topic) is a whole separate post, but a quick tip is to think about information your audience wants and needs to know before wanting to work with you. Mix up educational posts that answer their questions with behind-the-scenes posts that show them your team and values. Self-promotion is important! But don’t overuse it and think of ways to showcase value without constantly selling, like sharing testimonials or samples of work.
Finding hashtags on individual social posts is time-consuming and inefficient. Instead, spend 15 minutes researching hashtags on some of your primary topics and for your industry. Make yourself a cheat sheet and save boatloads of time.
If you map out your themes ahead of time, it’ll be that much easier to create content each month because you’ll already know what you need to talk about. Bonus! This also saves you from being caught off guard when a holiday or theme month comes up that you really feel you should participate in. (Prime example: a women’s conference forget about International Women’s Day, which left their social media team scrambling to create posts the morning of.)
Does that feel like a lot of information to process? That’s ok, because it is! If you want some guidance working on your marketing plan, you can download our Marketing Plan Template below or schedule a free consultation with us to brainstorm and figure out what tactics might work for you!