There are so many different elements involved in running a successful business in the 21st century. You need slick digital marketing, a watertight sales pipeline, flawless delivery, laser-focused data and reporting, and a hundred other things besides! However, there’s one key piece that many entrepreneurs tend to overlook, which is a real shame, because no modern business can flourish without it – engaging, informative, compelling content!
Many businesses think about content solely from a marketing point of view, and of course, producing gripping ad copy and engrossing lead magnets are vital ways of drawing new leads into your sales funnel. But just think about it – are these the only kinds of content you share with your customers? Of course not! There are blogs, emails, white papers, explainers, one-pagers, video guides, proposal documents, reviews, testimonials, and much, much more.
The fact is, we’re all in the content business, whether we recognise it or not! The whole marketing, sales and delivery cycle is like one ongoing conversation between you and your customers.
Do you want to take control of that conversation, and shape it so that it reflects your personality, your beliefs, and the value that you’re offering to your clients? Or do you want to go on churning out content piecemeal, without any overall strategy for how it’s supposed to serve your business?
I know Lisa’s written a lot on this blog about the importance of the customer journey – the unique route that each individual takes through your business from lead to customer to raving fan. Well, you could think of your content strategy as the map which allows you to guide your customers on their way, keeping them from wandering off the path and getting lost in the deep dark forest!
What do businesses get wrong about the content journey?
In my experience, there are three main ways that businesses go wrong when structuring their content journey.
Lack of congruence
Far too often, businesses produce content without an overarching strategy to guide it. Their blogs or videos aren’t developed with a clear purpose in mind or delivered in a single recognisable voice, so when they reach the customer it all feels disorganised, directionless and bitty.
Without good coordination, it’s easy for the sales team to end up saying one thing while the delivery team does another, creating a jarring experience for the customer. In a worst-case scenario, they might even start to feel like they’re being lied to. On the other hand, when everybody’s singing from the same hymn sheet, your clients will develop a sense of familiarity and trust, like they’re speaking with an old friend.
The key is to have a plan for what you want to achieve with your content, and a set of guidelines that apply to every piece of writing, audio or video created in your business. What kind of language do we use to describe our mission? What feelings do we want to stir in our audience? If everyone is clear on the answers to questions like these, you can shape your content around this sense of shared purpose.
Lack of context
All too often, businesses produce a whole heap of content, but without a framework to show consumers how to interact with it. Videos or blogs are presented in no particular order, without clear descriptions or obvious calls to action. This means that their viewers or readers have no easy way of discovering what they’re supposed to get out of them or what they should do next.
People might well be engaging with this content, but it won’t lead to productive results. Most likely they’ll look at the first two or three pieces, get bored and wander off to do something else. Every time you communicate with your audience it should be part of a clearly signposted journey, with direct suggestions as to what your readers or viewers should do next – read this blog, watch this video, book a discovery call. Otherwise, you’re just generating engagement for engagement’s sake.
Lack of focus
As entrepreneurs, we all have our own specialist subject, that personal obsession that we know better than anyone else in the world. This passion is at the core of our business; it’s what motivates us to deliver for our clients.
It should also be at the heart of every piece of content you produce! This doesn’t mean that you can’t branch out to cover different topics, but you should always be sure to bring it back around to your core expertise. Remember, this is why your audience is tuning in to you in the first place! If your specialism is recruitment, people won’t look to you for investment advice, any more than they’d want Warren Buffett to start giving them film recommendations.
Tips for creating a great content journey
When it comes to crafting a great content journey, all you need to remember are three simple words: Quality Over Quantity.
Find your niche and own it! If you’re truly passionate about what you have to say, you’ll naturally communicate with authority. People will gravitate to you because they know they’ll get actionable insights that they aren’t going to receive anywhere else.
If you commit to going deep into your specialist subject, you’ll find that ideas for new content will pop up spontaneously as you go along. It might even be that your readers start asking you to cover specific issues you’ve raised in previous pieces!
If you’re struggling to decide which subjects to make your own, try thinking in terms of the law of three. By picking three topics to release content around – it could be recruitment, sales and automation, for example – you give yourself the perfect blend of breadth and focus.
Take time to understand your audience. Who are you speaking to, and what are they after? What’s their professional background? Are they beginners, or people who’ve already achieved a certain level of success? Always look at the experience you’re trying to deliver from the client’s point of view, because if you can’t make sense of your content journey from this perspective, there’s no way a stranger can.
The benefit of crafting a great content journey is a deeper relationship with your clients, and everything that brings with it – increased lifetime client value, increased average client value, more and better reviews, more referrals. Get this right, and you’ve got one of the major pieces you need to start 10x-ing your business!
If you want to learn more about how you can use content to shape your ideal customer journey, book a discovery call with The Business Catalyst today! We’ll help you decide what kind of content is right for your ideal customer, as well as when and how to serve it to them.