Why Your Content Plan Sucks—and Why You Should Switch to a Strategic Approach

Content marketing

It can be argued that content is the foundation for every marketing strategy out there. Think about it—content is the basis for blog posts, articles, print ads, social media ads and posts, offline marketing, white papers, eBooks, videos, and everything else you use in your small business marketing efforts.

Surely you’ve heard the old adage, Content is King, but maybe you’ve never quite realized the full scope of it. In today’s culture, it’s nearly impossible to market a business without content. And that’s why everyone wants to understand how to create a content plan.

But doing so may keep you from reaching your goals.

Why Most Content Plans Get No Results

You’ve probably seen blog posts all over the internet telling you that you can create a content marketing plan in seven easy steps, but the truth of the matter is that most of those “plans” leave out the most important aspect of successful content marketing: customer satisfaction.

A content marketing plan typically outlines a schedule where you will add specific amounts of content to your blog or marketing efforts and wait a couple of years for the bots at Google and Facebook to take notice and begin to display your site.

And while that’s one way of getting the job done, it’s an awful lot of work and well…waiting.

But what if I told you that there’s a better way, one that would not only help get your site ranked, but also build lasting relationships with your audience?

It’s called a content marketing strategy, and it should be the basis of your marketing strategy. 

"A content marketing strategy beats the pants off a content marketing plan any day of the week." Sam Kerns Tweet this!

Here’s what you need to know.

What’s the Difference Between a Content Marketing Plan and a Content Marketing Strategy?

A content marketing strategy looks at the bigger picture, and the results are long-lasting relationships with your customers and a better brand. For example, instead of focusing on how you can get the attention of the Google bots, you should focus on your customer’s pain points and develop content to help them with it.

"Content developed for a content plan rarely goes viral, but content as part of a brand strategy often does because it’s written with consumers in mind, not the bots." Sam Kerns Tweet this!

Thinking long-term helps you develop a strategy, and that’s what produces relatable and shareable content.  And that’s the goal, isn’t it?

How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy

Step 1: Understand Your Goals and Audience

Before you begin developing content, you should have a rock solid idea of what message you want to consistently send out into the world. Think about your business’ goals and mission and align them with your message.

But don’t forget to keep your target audience in mind when doing so. Remember, writing for the bots is a losing strategy—instead you need to pinpoint the message that will resonate with your audience. Only then will they feel compelled to share it.

For example, imagine that you run a website devoted to home improvement. If you were to devise a content marketing plan, you might post once or twice a week and make sure to use the keywords and keyword phrases that would eventually get you noticed by the bots, but quite frankly, it’s not enough. You also need to get noticed by the people who are looking for home improvement information, products, and resources so they can share your content, buy your products, and click through to your affiliate and partner links.

Do you see the difference?

"Writing to bots has never in the history of content marketing made a website successful." Sam Kerns Tweet this!

Step 2: Connect with Your Audience

Have you ever visited a blog and felt like the host was out-of-reach or somehow disinterested in your problems or questions? I have, and like most people, I typically don’t stay around very long.

But when I visit a blog where I can connect with the host, either through his or her writings, the about page, or some other means of connection, I’m more likely to stay longer and visit again.

It’s no different for you when creating a content marketing strategy.

Your goal is to connect with your audience in order to build trust, confidence, and establish a connection. That means when you write your posts, send out your social media tweets or posts, or create a video, it should all be with your audience in mind. How will you relate to them? In a friendly, approachable way, or as a kind professor who has the right answers? It’s your call, but once you establish your way of connecting, be sure to keep it consistent.

Step 3: Don’t Let Your Audience Down

It’s been said that many content marketers give up right before their blog would have broken out, and that’s a shame not only because they miss out on a great opportunity, but also because they let down the faithful followers who have come to count on them.

Your blog isn’t just a money-making proposition. If you do it the right way and speak to and connect with your audience, they will come to depend on you.

So forsake any thoughts of only going halfway and instead determine to carry on until you’ve succeeded. A content marketing plan would have you give up if you don’t see the results you want in a certain period of time, but a content marketing strategy would allow you to look into the future with patience and an understanding of what you’re building and the good it will do.

Small business optimism is on the rise, and for small businesses everywhere, that means content marketing has to take center stage in their marketing efforts. Do you have a content marketing strategy? If so, share the details of it below!