Why content planning is a MUST if you want more leads and sales online
It’s no good me telling you HOW to get your content planning done fast if you don’t understand WHY it’s important. Be honest – how many plans of one description or another, do you have hidden in your laptop gathering dust?
The trouble is that planning (content or otherwise) can make a great procrastination task – you avoided the thing that you really needed to do by creating a “helpful” digital media plan that you’ll never look at again. A content strategy and plan can be EPIC but ONLY if you understand WHY you’re doing it, and recognise the enormous benefits it will bring.
Once you realise that content planning the right way can ensure you achieve your business goals AND will save you the agony of staring at a blank screen each morning, wondering where the next sales will come from, then that baby is never gonna gather a speck of dust.
Planning brings purpose
You can’t expect to randomly spew whatever you like out there and succeed in meeting your business objectives as smoothly as Ashley Banjo’s moves on the dance floor (I MIGHT have been watching Flirty Dancing…).
When you sit down to map out your content marketing properly, you bring some strategy to the chaos and it becomes a billion times more effective for your brand. The content you create then serves its purpose, talks to your target market and delivers more lead generation and sales.
No, not that new social media platform – I can’t even bring myself to look at that (more video content, eurgh). Instead, I’m talking about good, old-fashioned time – arguably one of the most valuable commodities you have because you can’t get anymore.
Content planning saves you a bunch of time. I mean HOURS of it.
You don’t have to stare aimlessly at the screen or “just go and finish those dishes” while you wait for inspiration for the latest piece of content to strike you from above because IT’S IN YOUR PLAN.
There’s no need to remember the spark of genius you had about what you were going to do with your blog content because IT’S IN YOUR PLAN.
PIN THIS ARTICLE!
No more waiting 20 minutes for your brain to fire up the right parts and catch up when you switch from the one activity of generating an idea to the content creation process because, you got it, IT’S IN YOUR PLAN.
You don’t even have to sit down on a daily basis to write your social media posts because IT’S IN YOUR PLAN which means you could batch write it ten times quicker. Content planning saves you time!
The chill-pill factor
Let’s get real for a moment. Running a business is STRESSFUL. Those posts and Canva images of living the laptop lifestyle, sunning yourself on a beach somewhere (can you imagine sand in your laptop?!) while sipping a cocktail are just a tad misleading.
Even when you get to that point, there are…CRIPES…big-arse, hairy-scary decisions that fall on your shoulders.
That doesn’t mean that you should throw it all in, or that it’s not worth it. Running your own business is awesome sauce. But if there’s something you can do to lighten the load and dial down the stress, like create a content strategy, then DO IT.
An effective content plan helps to chill out because it’s one less thing consuming your mind. There are no more worries about “what to post” and if you happen to fall ill (I mean, how dare you, right? But it does happen…), then you don’t have to stress about not being consistent or losing your visibility – the plan has your online content all in hand well in advance.
Well, now you know WHY you need to be planning your content, let’s get on to the HOW.
The ‘HOW’ OF planning: Decisions, DECISIONS
Before you get started with your content plan, you have to decide what types of content you’re going to be using in your online marketing and the marketing channels you will use. Hint, that does not mean ALL THE THINGS.
One of the mistakes business owners and entrepreneurs can make early on with their digital content is to try and do everything and be everywhere. But it’s not possible without a team behind you. Instead, you want to get focused and choose which social media platforms and marketing solutions you will use. This can be a tricky decision but I have a podcast episode that tells you exactly how to do this coming out on 14th January 2020 – sign up here to get a reminder when it drops.
For now, let’s consider a couple of choices that you have:
SOCIAL MEDIA Marketing
There are a variety of different platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and more. It is far better to master one than to try and do them all and lose consistency.
Have a think about where your ideal client is more likely to be and which you enjoy more. For example, it’s no secret that I’m not a fan of video, so choosing YouTube would be a ridiculous move for me. Apply some logic and make your choice.
OTHER ONLINE MARKETING METHODS
It might be that social media is not right for you or, that you’re looking to add something else. In that case, you might want to consider other options such as email marketing or using your website more effectively.
This is likely to require some search engine optimisation work, including keyword research, as a minimum. Blog posts too can really help with getting ranked on Google and improving your traffic. Pinterest is often seen as a social media network but in fact, it’s much more of a search engine and this is another option you might want to explore for your online marketing.
Once you’ve decided what type of content you’re going to use, you then need to consider your schedule. How often will you post on social media? How many blog posts will you write a week?
This is where everyone wants some hard-and-fast rule they can live by and it just ain’t that easy, kiddo. There’s no point saying that you’ll blog three times a week if you can’t maintain that, so start with what is manageable for you.
HOVER TO SAVE TO PINTEREST
You also need to consider your target audience:
Will they be miffed off if they see posts from you 10 times a day?
Is there newsfeed usually quite quiet and mainly friends and family? Or, are they an entrepreneur with a busy newsfeed in which you’ll need to fight for their attention?
How busy are they? How much time do they have for consuming content? Which content types do they prefer?
And then there’s the platform you’re using:
How easy it is to get in front of them?
Is there a ton of competition which means they won’t see most of your stuff?
How does the quantity impact on the algorithm? What about quality?
Sorry. It would be really easy for me to say and super simple for you to hear, “put out great content this amount of times per day/week/month”. But it doesn’t work that way and I’m all about telling the truth about growing your business online, rather than stringing you along.
How many pieces of content should you plan for? The real answer is it depends.
However, I want you to avoid getting overwhelmed. Start with a minimum that you think you can be consistent with and work up from there. Over time, you can experiment with your content development to find the right balance but for now make it manageable and start building that brand awareness. Remember also to account for the easy-to-forget tasks beyond writing the content. For example, you might need to:
- Create images
- Load up content
- Spend time on the layout
- Edit podcasts or video marketing
All of these things take additional time. Don’t over commit yourself.
The biggie: content planning & idea generation
With content and copywriting, it’s generating enough ideas that holds soooo many people back.
“But Tara, how can I write a plan if I don’t have any ideas?”
“How do I know what to write about?”
“What can I say about…?”
Before you can get plan happy, you need the ideas for your original content. There are a few ways to go about it. These are covered in more detail in my Content Planning Masterclass which you can find out about here. However, in a nutshell, you can:
- Brainstorm different topic areas within your business and then break these down into smaller content ideas. I’ve got a spreadsheet with hundreds of ideas on it just from this and it’s far from complete.
- Get researching keywords and phrases that people are searching and the most popular of content. You can use Google’s own keyword tool or an alternative such as Ubersuggest and Buzzsumo. When done right, this can increase the amount of people who share your content. Plus, it gives you a whole list of ideas for your blog.
- Type a topic or keyword into Google and look at what it’s predicting you’ll write – they’re popular searches and a good indicator of people’s content needs. You can also click search and check further down the page where it says “other popular searches”.
- I always think about content as three different pillars – your ideal client, your business and, uh-oh, YOU. This is crucial for your brand. The points above all focus on business. However, you should also do some brainstorming around your target audience’s world and interests and showing people more about you.
Now, you might recall what I said earlier about your brain switching tasks. Coming up with ideas requires certain parts of your brain which means once you get going, it’s easier and more ideas magic themselves into your head.
Inspiration can also strike at the most inconvenient times. Therefore, ensure you have a list on your phone to add to at any time, especially if, like me,you break out in a rash if you’re more than a few feet from your phone.
It’s only once you’ve managed to answer all the above that you can start putting together your content plan and digital marketing strategy. It might sound daunting but really, it comes down to seven easy-to-follow steps – in fact, step one is generating content ideas so you’re on the right path already.
If you want to “plan with purpose” and have a content calendar for 2020, just like a PRO, then check out my Content Planning Masterclass here – there’s even a couple of Christmas bonuses which include a live call to answer your questions if you get in before 19th December! Plus, you get tons of additional material to help you generate social media content ideas! Don’t miss out.