Over the past decade as I’ve written about and delivered talks on the new rules of marketing and public relations and real-time communications, I’ve connected with thousands of people from around the world. I’ve heard from many that they have struggled in getting started with the idea of content creation. Understanding that, back in 2010, I worked with my friends Adam Franklin and Toby Jenkins from Bluewire Media in Australia to create a free Web Strategy Planning Template. We’re now on version 9 of this valuable tool that has been downloaded nearly a million times.
Toby, Adam, and I all realized that most of the implementation challenges that people describe involve the shift from focusing on products and services to the more effective approach of focusing on buyer personas and information that helps solve buyers’ problems.
A secondary challenge people shared is the shift in emphasis from offline marketing techniques and programs (such as direct mail, trade shows, and advertising) to reaching buyers on the web.
Marketing starts with your goals
We created the template 7 years ago (and have collaborated on the regular updates to it since) to help people implement strategies for reaching buyers directly. It is essential to shift out of the marketer’s comfort zone of preaching about products and services.
For example, if you were to say to me, “I want to start a YouTube channel, “ I would have you start with an understanding of the buyers you are trying to reach. To be effective, there is a bunch of planning that needs to happen before you start shooting those videos.
The document is two pages. One page is the template that you should fill out before you start any content initiative. It is your reminder to start with buyers and create content with a specific goal.
The other page is a map of the web ecosystem showing how the content you create generates attention and leads to the desired outcomes in your business. I use this myself on a regular basis to remind me of what I can do in my own business - like writing this blog post(!).
This ecosystem map shows that when you publish valuable information (videos, blogs, Twitter feeds, e-books, and so on), you are creating the sorts of links that search engine algorithms love. Thus, your content surfaces when buyers are looking for help solving their problems! It reminds you that the information people find will drive them to action and help you achieve your goals. Moreover, you can monitor your own effectiveness: You can measure how many people follow you on Twitter, sign up for your email newsletter, or download a white paper. You can also measure how your marketing strategies are helping your organization reach its most important goals, such as new sales and revenue growth.