Want to feel more confident that your content is good before posting it for the world to see?
Fortunately, there’s a simple solution…
But not any checklist will do.
Google “content marketing checklist,” and you will find articles from giants like Neil Patel, the Content Marketing Institute, Copyblogger, and dozens of other companies. These articles focus primarily on the nuts and bolts of content marketing, such as the correct headings in your blog post, the best place to post your content, customer personas, and how to know if your content is successful.
But what if those things don’t matter…
What if you have your blog post title in H1 and subheads in H2, fine-tune it to your customer persona, post it on your blog that gets decent traffic, and it’s still not successful? If you are doing all the things on these checklists and not getting the results you want, you have a different problem. And need a different checklist.
At this point, your frustration is overwhelming and enough to make you want to give up. I’ve been there.
When I started blogging for my business over a decade ago, I stayed up all night reading articles and then spent days writing and formatting my posts just right. But I never got the results I wanted. It was time away from my business and then coming back to it to realize there is something much more important than tactics. Heck, something even more critical than strategy.
I finally understood.
What had been missing was the “why” of my content marketing.
Let me explain.
Strategy and tactics are terrific once you have the fundamental questions answered. But forget about the larger intent, and your plan and actions fall short and don’t solve your results problem.
Use this content marketing checklist to develop and check your “why,” refine your strategy, and finally move on to a tactical checklist.
The best way to know if you do this is to think about your priorities when creating content.
Do you obsess about keyword research even before putting a word or image on the page? Or do you try to draft out your content before revising it to include the necessary keywords?
We all know how content changes through rounds of drafts and reviews by team members. A smart strategy is to finalize keywords in one of the final drafts. Or take Neil Patel’s advice to skip keywords entirely and use Google search suggestions to integrate contextual words into your content.
Readers can feel fakeness.
Are you are creating content in technical and formal jargon with dull images when you really want to be posting a dog hanging out of a car window saying, “Hey y’all, this plug-in is the bomb”?
If you think you can’t be authentic in your industry because it will scare away potential customers, you’re both right and wrong. It will repel the customers who aren’t a good fit for you, saving everyone time and money. Being authentic will attract customers on your wavelength and enable you to produce outstanding results.
Being boring and more of the same as what is already out there makes you invisible.
This leads to the next question…
If you are reworking a well-worn topic, ask yourself why. Are you trying to increase your rank for a particular keyword?
Sure, you can do a rehashed post occasionally. But what value are you giving if you are not saying anything different than what is already out there?
Just like creating in your authentic voice takes bravery, so does taking a stance.
Take a new angle on what has already been done by disagreeing with it or finding an exception. For example, I could have easily replicated a typical content marketing checklist about formatting, audience, and SEO. But those are everywhere and would give you no additional value. So, I took a different angle and went meta.
If you struggle to find a new angle, you’re suffering from “I’m posting just to post” syndrome.
Copyblogger, in The Ultimate Guide to Blogging and Starting a Blog in 2021, makes an excellent point– without leveraging your curiosity about the subject, you leave behind the insight and expertise you have.
You don’t have to love every aspect of developing the content.
But if you continually find yourself swearing at your screen or putting off content creation, that’s a sign you feel stifled, bored, or overwhelmed. Make it a priority to investigate the root cause.
Content without insight and expertise is just words and images smashed together with hope. And hope is not a marketing strategy.
Creative content marketing can be fun to develop and entertaining for the 15 seconds potential customers look at your stuff. However, if your content doesn’t answer basic questions, potential customers don’t know how to buy from you, decide if you are the right fit, or what they can expect after their purchase.
Don’t become a scroll-by.
We put together a freebie, “The 21 Essential Pieces of Content That Will Turn Leads Into Satisfied Customers,” that covers the content that you must have. Once you have this content created, you can go off on tangents with the reminder that everything should map back to customer needs and wants, which is an excellent transition into the next point…
I get a monthly newsletter from a consultant that is exclusively focused on the company. The first section talks about what they are doing or what they have learned. The second section is how to connect with them. Finally, the third section asks how they can help potential clients. Two-thirds of their email newsletter is focused on them!
Potential clients want to see a focus on them–their needs and wants. If they don’t see a reflection of themselves in your content, customers feel that disconnect and decide you are not for them. I stayed subscribed to this newsletter as a reminder of what I don’t want to do.
You will always win by putting your customers first.
Notice the choice of words.
You should express empathy and demonstrate authority.
Empathy is clearly stated through content that says, “I get it. I’ve been there. I know how you feel.” But authority is demonstrated through social proof, e.g., case studies, testimonials, reviews, clients’ logos, awards, user-generated content, and statistics. Even if you are starting out, one testimonial or 10 reviews is better than nothing.
Social proof is more convincing because other people are talking about you, not you talking about you, which comes across as arrogant.
I find that our clients go to the extremes when it comes to CTAs. Either they want to sell every time they post something, or they don’t want to sell on any of their content to avoid being seen as too pushy.
But here’s the missing piece…
A CTA doesn’t mean you are asking for a purchase.
It’s not always a call to buy.
It’s a directive to take a specific action, which can be anything from signing up for a newsletter to requesting a sample.
Avoiding including CTAs in your content indicates something is going on in your head that affects your business.
Remember, people expect the ask. They need to know what they should do or expect next. Without this prompt, they will do nothing. Alternatively, because they expect the ask or prompt, you can’t overdo it, or they will be become desensitized and ignore it.
Of course, it’s scary to put your best advice out there for free when you’re not sure what you will get back. Those unknowns can be terrifying.
Fear about giving away too much indicates you are operating from a loss aversion stance.
You see giving away your expertise as a loss to be minimized instead of focusing on what gains will occur and could be maximized, which is a mindset issue.
While only you can decide what is best for your business, take some advice from a rock star. In this two-minute Q & A video, Gary Vaynerchuk gives the best explanation of how to strategize free content and understand it as leverage for future paid opportunities. His bottom line is first to know why you are giving away things for free, and it becomes less scary to do so.
The bottom line is–
I know you have fantastic content that will help people.
But there’s a catch…
If you are only using tactical checklists to ensure your content is ready to go, you overlook critical questions about the larger intent of your content. Without the glue of this intent, strategy and tactics fail, and you don’t get the results you want or help your customers.
Use these questions in our downloadable checklist to go beyond strategy and tactics and ensure you post the most valuable content every time.
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