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Building great blog content scares many away from content marketing. They’ll say something like “I don’t have that much to say about it (the topic).” Others blog regularly, but their topics are chosen randomly and don’t build any kind of brand or slowly sway opinion.
The purpose of any blog should be to remain positioned with your market, and to subtly concept-condition them. That is, if your blogs do their job, you’ll enjoy inbound leads from those who hold you to be a thought leader, and, best yet, they will already share your view about what the issues are, and what they should look for in a solution.
I’ll show you in this blog how much you actually do know so we can get past the “don’t have much to say” issue, and how you can you build a roadmap for lots of content, that keeps you on message.
Hi. Building great content seems like a really hard thing, and the task of writing lots of content scares people away. So they don’t do it or others blog, but they blog randomly, that is, they’re off message all the time, they’re talking about different subjects, and they’re just not consistent. The purpose of a blog is really two-fold, keep your position with your market so they know that you’re there and to shape their concept of what they need.
So in a perfect world if you’re blogging really well. what’s going to happen is two things. One is you’ll get a larger number of inbound leads, people who know that you exist, but also when they come inbound they’re probably looking for the right thing. That is the kind of thing that you can do rather than something that somebody else can do. In this blog I’m going to show you how to build a content road map to build loads of content that’s easy and remains on message.
If you buy the argument that I’ve put that the purpose of the blog is two-fold to keep you positioned and to shape your concept, then what needs to be true about your content, whatever form it takes whether you video blog, whether you podcast, whether you’re writing, even social media posting, short posts, whatever form your content is taking, what needs to be true? I would argue three things.
Firstly, it needs to be compelling or at least useful so that people would want to read it or listen to it, watch it. It also needs to be consistent. If you try to have some kind of residual effects so that you change people’s views over time, your contents are going to need to be really consistent. And finally, it needs to be mildly troubling really for two reasons. One is that if you’re over time you’re telling the same message, at some point they’re either going to disengage because they fundamentally disagree with you, or they’re going to start to agree and be a little bit unsettled about their status quo.
Secondly, you actually do want to get a little bit of inbound from your blog although most of the experts agree that the purpose of the blog isn’t to manage and disguise, it really isn’t. It’s that slow nurture in the background. But every now and then you will still get inquiries from your blog. Something will resonate on the day, so the content needs to be mildly troubling.In this blog, I’m going to give you six specific steps, but I need to put a little bit more foundation down first, then we’ll get to the six steps. So firstly, it’s not about your product. You’re not blogging about your product. It’s not a brochure. It’s a blog. So what does it really need to be?
It’s about them. It’s about your market. It’s about their issues and their concerns. The things that kind of get in the way of them meeting their objectives, that’s what you want to be blogging about, ideas that potentially give them some hope for a solution, but not talking about your solution. Now in last week’s blog, let me put a link here to the blog. In last week’s blog I argued that you need to create a case for change that really only you can meet. There is no point getting your market troubled about a problem that either somebody can make better than you or even others can make just as well and then you’re in a competitive situation. You really want to create a case for change that only you can meet.
So ideally we’re looking for a problem that you uniquely solve, and we’re going to talk about that problem in a way that’s helpful, insight into the problem, some insight into the things that you need to solve the problem, It’s not all doom and gloom, but most certainly it’s not about your product.
What does create the case for change? Well, it’s really the challenges, impediments, gaps, your prospects of trying to achieve something with their business or for their business, in their business, on their business, something they’re trying to achieve. What’s going to get in the way of them achieving those things, challenges, gaps, impediments, problems? Whatever language you like to use, the idea to think about is what’s going to get in the way, and let’s talk about that so that you create a case for change. And as I’ve already argued, better yet, a case for change that only you can help with.
What is it that creates that case? What do we need to talk about? Well, there is actually three topics that you can use to define the shape of your content or you can use to build a list of content. Let me explain. Around any problem, in fact, let me use a specific case. Last week I used the example of final plan, and I talked about some of the uniqueness of final plan and built that into a message by not talking about final plan, but rather about the challenges in a way that created competitive advantage. So let me not use final plan again.
This time I’ll use final mastery workshop. Now, final mastery workshop is a one-day workshop that’s designed to help lots of people build their plan. So you might have 10 or 15, or 20 people building their plans at the same time. So what’s the problem, or the gap, or the challenge, or the impediment that that solves? It’s my businesses, plural, my businesses don’t have clear plans for gaining new business. My businesses don’t have clear plans for gaining new business.
Now let’s talk about three topics that would potentially unpack that so that we got a lot to talk about. One problem, but lots of different topics for our blog. I’ll talk firstly about causes. What are the things that get in the way that cause that problem? What brings it about? Let’s get a list up here. I’ll give you five example causes. Now, I just made these up for the blog. I could do a better job I’m quite sure. But these are five causes of that one problem. Let’s take a look.
Lack of skills and building go to market plans. Lack of time to build those plans. Maybe there is no perceived need for a plan at all. In itself that can be a cause of their problem. Disagreement about the best approach. Well maybe the plans are too robust and not actionable. So they’re the causes. Let’s take a look now at triggers.
Now, triggers seem like the same thing, they’re not. It’s either the event that suddenly brings that problem to light, so let’s say that you’ve got a business where there are lots of your businesses, divisions, products, segments, partners, lots of components to your business that don’t have a clear plan. Now if that’s the case, certainly those causes that I’ve talked about, let’s get them up again, those cases certainly they might be sitting in the background, but you might just be putting up with them.
A trigger is something that makes you not put up with them anymore. It’s more alarming. It’s more immediate. It’s more short-term. Let’s give you a list of the possible triggers that might bring the problem of my businesses who don’t have good plans for generating your business or running your business. Here are five triggers that I’ve created for this blog.
Again, they’re somewhat random. Change in command, so some of the key roles moved. Maybe the market has changed. It might be some regulation or some industry disruption. Maybe your competitors have changed like one entrant suddenly gained rapid share. Maybe there is some sort of tactical changes, something suddenly getting traction like maybe social is finally getting traction in B2B market or continue filing to make budget, let’s say. So that last one, that last trigger, that’s kind of a straw that broke the camel’s back in a sense that all of the others were or are events. But the straw that broke the camel’s back might be the event. It just gradually weighs and suddenly that’s the trigger. It’s just for too long we failed to meet budget, and so that’s why this is suddenly got on the radar screen.
So we got causes, we got triggers, now let’s look at a third topic source which is consequences. That is what happens if you don’t fix that problem? If you’ve got that problem of my businesses don’t have clear plans for earning new demand, new business, if you have that problem, what happens as a result of that? And that’s consequences. Again, let me give you five. Again, I’ve built them for this blog. They weren’t the subject of lots of thought, but they’re good enough for the blog.
Failure to meet targets. Because you don’t have clear plans in your businesses you fail to meet the targets. Spending too much energy on meeting targets, you might be meeting your targets, but it’s just too expensive to meet those targets. You’re chewing up too much juice.
Spinning wheels, not the same thing. That’s just vacillation, failing to act because you’re not certain. Maybe misalignment between sales and marketing. You know that I’m a big one on that subject, but that could be a consequence of having poor plans or not good enough plans, or you do well, but you don’t do well enough. And so eventually your competitors overtake you. So there you’ve got three topics and for each of those topics five examples of talking about the same problem, but in a different way, a different aspect of that problem. So it doesn’t put your market to sleep.
We’re talking always about the same single challenge, but we’re talking about it from a different aspect. And that’s how we keep it interesting, relevant, and it’s clearly the case that sometimes your market really enjoys reading your blog, but they just don’t feel the need to act right now. So you need to stay on message, but it’s also true that one aspect of that issue just may not have struck a cord. But seeing it from another light could well bring it to surface, so that’s why we look for multiple topics, causes, triggers, and consequences I should say. And then within each of those multiple examples of causes, triggers, and consequences.
In a moment or two I’m going to do two things. I’m going to show you how we do that in the final plan, and I’m going to invite you to share this blog. But before we do that I want to share with you the conclusion. How do you create a content plan that allows you to build killer content that lasts for years? Let me give you my six steps for building that content right now.
So first thing you want to do, of course, is to identify the problem that you want to own. Now you might solve multiple problems and they’re all valid, but there is one problem that you really want to be known for so that people go to you if they ever have that issue. Now let’s start with identifying one problem. Then we’re going to workshop and list all of the possible causes, triggers, and consequences.
Step three, we’ll choose the best five. Now five is an arbitrary number depending on how many blogs you need, but choose the best five of each of those causes, triggers, and consequences. You might even want to road test those ideas, so get your long lists and put it out to a poll of some description, maybe a quick email survey, some other fashion to get some feedback from your market about which of those topics they’d most like to hear from you on.
Step four is really, really important. Trying to be creative and inspirational on demand is kind of tough work. So keep a notebook on each of the, let’s say, there are 15, the five courses, five triggers, five consequences. Keep a notebook on each of those 15 and add random ideas through the year, through the months, through the weeks as they occur to you. I personally use Evernote for this because I can add to it when I’m out, I’ve got my mobile phone with me in a cab, I can add it from the PC, I can add it from somebody else’s computer. And so whenever the thought comes, you can capture it. That’s important because you’ll have these inspirational ideas that will fail you later. Remember, you’ll fail to bring them back later. So keep them in a notebook.
Step five, write them well in advance of the release schedule. Either write the whole lot at once, we do that for a lot of clients where we write all of their blogs in advance or at least have one written in advance. And the reason I’m arguing that is that if you get into a rhythm whether it’s weekly, fortnightly, monthly, whatever rhythm you’re in with your blogs and you break that rhythm, your market will lose momentum, and you’ll potentially be perceived as unwanted content because you’re coming in like I kind of wasn’t expecting it.
Whatever rhythm you got your market in you want to have something ready to go out, but the real reason I’m arguing that is the bigger risk. Certainly the market momentum risk is an issue, but the bigger risk is that you just make something up on the fly and you do an ordinary job. So do them well in advance and you’ve always got one in the cupboard ready to go out just in case, so you’re always kind of one ahead with your content.
Finally, search optimize your copy. So whatever format it takes whether if it’s a YouTube video like this one, then you want to search optimize the title, search optimize your tags and the description. If it’s a written blog, then you want to search optimize everything. Get some advice from some great experts on how to do that, but certainly you want to search optimize your copy.
Well, there you are six steps, identify the problem, workshop all the possible causes, triggers, and consequences, choose the five best, keep a notebook on them, write them well in advance, and then search optimize your copy. And then my recommendations on how to create lots of copy that’s consistent, that positions you, and the concept educates your market.
If you enjoyed this blog, then luckily you’ve got colleagues who would as well. Can I ask you? Can I plead with you? Can I beg you? Can I thank you in advance? If you’d share this blog, go to align.me/blog, grab that URL, and forward it onto a colleague who isn’t currently getting those blogs. I’d be so grateful if you’d do that. When they go to that site they can potentially subscribe to the twice a week blog, or they can subscribe to Final Vision which comes out once a month like an editor’s grab of the best of the articles. You can also send them to our YouTube channel. At that YouTube channel they can subscribe if that’s their preferred way of getting the content.
Okay. So here is where the content road map and the content fits in your final plan. It’s a pretty simple one this week. I’m going to zoom in here on the tactic section of the final plan. That’s the one-page plan that comes out of final mastery workshop, a short plug. Zoom in here on the tactic section. Now, content often plays a role in the positioning category stage in the final plan, but it also plays a role in the recycling.
So recycling is for those leads who are just not ready to move forward right now, so you take them our of your demand gen process and put them into a nurture program. That’s recycling, recycling the leads. So certainly it’s going to play a role in recycling, and an important reason I’m raising that is that it could well be that the content that you use in positioning category is more assertive. It might be a demand gen case, and it’s actually trying to stimulate demand. When they fail to re-stimulate it or they get stimulated, take a few steps, and then bail, that’s when you’re going to put them into your nurture program. So I would say the primary purpose of your blogging is the nurture process, the recycling process, and that’s where it sits in the final plan.
But clearly that’s enough of the talk of the final plan. It all begins with having identified the problem that you most want to focus on. Now in this particular example we’ve not put in the problem that I’ve just spoke of. I’m just showing you where the analysis of potential problems is in the final plan and how we choose just one.
Okay. Well, that’s it for this week. I hope you enjoyed this week’s blog. Next week I’ll show you how to build third party content in the marketing mix and how to source it, and to leverage that third party content because you really can’t create it all yourself. Until then, may your funnel be full and always flowing.