GOING BACK TO BASICS: Why good content marketing is about doing the simple things well

One of the highlights of this year’s Rugby World Cup in England has been the focus on back to basics rugby; where the simple things have been done incredibly well.

Indeed during the pool stages, everyone’s favourite second team, Japan, managed the unthinkable, when they beat the Springboks by playing some simple, yet superbly executed rugby.

Nothing fancy. Just the basics. Done brilliantly.

And that got me thinking….

When it comes to content marketing, there’s a danger that too many businesses are getting caught up in the hype of what they think their content plan should look like, instead of taking a step back and making sure they do some of the small, more basic things well.

With that in mind, I’ve put together a simple guide to the essential steps you need to implement when creating your next content marketing plan.

And while it won’t help you bring home the Webb Ellis trophy, it will ensure that your content marketing efforts come together to work as one, effective unit that can deliver the results you need.

Know what you want to achieve out on the pitch

For the rugby behemoths like Australia, New Zealand, and dare I say it, England, their one and only goal was to hoist the Rugby World Cup. However, for second tier teams like Japan, their ambition was to simply make it out of the pool stages. My point is, depending on the stage your business is at, you will have different goals and objectives when it comes to your content marketing.

A start up may for instance be only looking for lead generation. Whereas a more seasoned company, that’s been ‘doing’ content for a while, might want to increase its subscriber base.

So before you do anything, be clear on what your content marketing goals are. And from there you can then start to think about a strategy which will help you get there.

Know your fan base

Content marketing is so much more than just content production. The leading content marketers start by researching who their customers are first, ensuring they’re clear on what motivates them to buy, and the keywords they use to conduct research.

Take the English RFU (Rugby Football Union). They know that their fan base is primarily the Barbour-clad, cord-wearing public school fraternity of Southern England, which means they know what makes them tick and what kind of keywords are likely to work.

To find what your customers search for, you can use Google’s Keyword Planner Tool (which offers a free adwords account also) and estimate the number of monthly searches for any given search term. The tool will also give you a list of other keywords Google feels are related to that search term, and their estimated monthly traffic. It’s a simple yet incredibly powerful way to get a comprehensive map of the search terms for which you want your website to rank highly

Try out your best combinations

The very best rugby coaches will try out different combinations to see what works best for the team. And the same goes for content. If you’re trying to outmanoeuvre your competitors then think about what they do well and try something different. Don’t be afraid to experiment, until you’re sure of what your best ‘line up’ is. For example, instead of a blog article or an infographic, there are dozens of other contact formats that you can try — including lists, guides, polls, vlogs, slideshares, podcasts and surveys to name a few.

Create a ‘fixture’ list

If you don’t have it written down, it won’t happen. So before you start creating content, use a content calendar to work out when and where you’re going to amplify it — for instance during a public holiday or on the back of a special event.

A content calendar is also a fantastic resource for noting down all those great content ideas that hit you at 4am in the morning. There are loads of brilliant tools around, some are free and others offer a free trial. The important thing is to find the one that works best for you and your business.

For starters, try:

Coschedule http://coschedule.com

Divvy HQ http://divvyhq.com

Kapost http://kapost.com

Hubspot http://www.hubpost.com

Keep the scoreboard ticking over with valuable content

Australia has Matt Giteau. The All Blacks have Dan Carter. Wales have Dan Biggar. The most successful teams build a platform around one player; someone who they can always rely on to make things happen. Treat your content in the same way. Think about creating that one piece of ‘Big rock’ content, which you can then slice, and dice into different formats. It could be an ebook. Could be white papers. Could be webinars. It doesn’t really matter. But it must be useful.

Find the one topic your customers care most about and where your company has expertise. Then, focus your content on that and get your team involved.

And above all, stop paying low quality writers to write content for you. If this is content for your customers, then make it come from someone who has the most experience in your company and knows your brand better than anyone — in short you and your team.

Buffer is a great example of this: http://blog.bufferapp.com/

It’s also worth checking out Wista: http://wistia.com/blog

Follow the steps I laid out for you in this post, and I guarantee you will be well on your way to creating a content plan which is rock solid and keeps your sales ‘scoreboard’ ticking over nicely.

As for the World Cup, with England out, and now Ireland gone, I guess I’m going to have to finally bite the bullet and, through gritted teeth, go for my sons’ country of birth, Australia. Go Wallabies!

Originally published at www.hemingwaycontent.com.au.

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