In 2019, Semrush found that 77% of businesses were using content marketing. By 2020, the percentage grew to 84%. Why? Because content marketing produces real results.
Through content marketing, you can:
- Differentiate your firm
- Educate your audience and earn their trust
- Grow organically
- Create a funnel
- Be dynamic and engaging instead of static
- Create partnership opportunities
However, getting to the point where your business begins reaping those benefits requires some planning. To help, we’ve outlined our seven-step strategy for creating great content, so you can apply it to your firm.
Step 1: Know Your Audience
Before you get into the nitty-gritty of creating content, you need to learn who you are creating content for. Once you’ve done this, you’ll be able to use it as a guide for topic selection.
You’ll want to start getting to know your audience by creating an ideal client persona. Your ideal client persona will serve as a template for a single (but ideal) member of your audience.
The easiest way to build your persona is to ask some of your favorite clients’ questions like:
- What more could we be doing to better meet your needs?
- Are we providing enough information about our services?
- What are your goals and values?
- What are your challenges and pain points?
- Are you unclear on any specific topics?
The information you mine from your clients will help you better understand their questions so you can create meaningful, valuable, and direct content that is tailored to your audience.
Step 2: Map Out Topics
Accounting firms and businesses often hold onto the common misconception that all of the content they share has to be covered in their services. While this is an excellent place to start, it should not be the full extent of your content. You can bring value to your audience by sharing information on any topic within your niche.
As mentioned earlier, asking your audience questions is an incredibly useful strategy for selecting topics. When your audience provides you with feedback about the information they’d like answers to, and you create content answering those questions, you’ve taken a huge step forward towards:
- Your audience believing you are speaking directly to them.
- A business relationship built on trust.
- Making yourself the expert.
- Your audience referring clients to you or your website.
Not only does answering questions encourage the above, but it also ensures you are providing value. Keyword research is a great way to find popular (and valuable) topics within your niche.
It helps you find:
- What the audience is searching for.
- What topics are generating traffic.
- What keywords are performing well.
Once you’ve asked your audience questions and conducted keyword research, the last method for selecting a topic is to ask yourself what you want your audience to do. Is there something you believe they need to know? Add it to your topic list. Knowing what you want your audience to do will lead you to your tone and help in creating a call to action, which will be explained in more depth later.
Step 3: Organize a Content Schedule
After you’ve determined your topics, it’s time to organize a content schedule. A content schedule is a plan for what and when you intend to have your content complete and shared. Having a content schedule is important because:
- It creates consistency.
- Consistency is key in content marketing and comes with a ton of benefits:
- Being consistent helps you regularly think through different angles of your business.
- Consistency forces you to create deadlines and stick to them to ensure you are getting content out there.
- It also improves your SEO because it shows you are producing authentic, consistent, and authoritative content, all of the things search engines look for.
- Sharing consistent content keeps you in front of your audience and top of mind.
- Consistency builds trust by showing your clients that you are dedicated to your work and reliable.
- Consistency is key in content marketing and comes with a ton of benefits:
- It provides clarity.
- Creating and sharing content is a lot easier when you know exactly what you are posting and when, that way there is no confusion. With a content schedule, your plan is clear.
- It allows you to plan around events.
- Timing your content around a big launch, tax time, or certain seasons is advantageous. It targets your audience and what they need at that particular time. For example, you could share content about eCommerce around the holidays since it’s busiest during that time.
There is no perfect timeline for sharing content. At Full Stadium, we suggest posting 2-3 times a month however, what matters is that you are consistently sticking to a content schedule that works best for you. Don’t overdo it! Even if you are only sharing one post a month, it’s better than nothing!
In addition to when you are sharing what topics, your content schedule should also include draft dates. Typically these dates are a day or two before your official “due date” (or publish date), that way you have time to step away, refresh your mind, and come back to make edits.
Here is an example of a simple content schedule:
Step 4: Create a Brief
Once you’ve created a content schedule, the next step is to create a brief. A brief is an outline/summary of what you plan to cover in your article and should briefly explain each of the points you want to include.
As you write the brief, it’s important you make sure your messaging targets your intended audience. Think about the question you are trying to answer, the service you are trying to explain, or the lesson you are trying to teach. Then break down everything you need your audience to know about your topic into sections that flow into your main point. Throughout the entire process, focus on providing value to your audience.
Your sections (or subheadings) should pull back into your keyword research. Using keyword research in your subheadings will help you speak to the terms your audience is searching for, making your article more SEO-friendly.
Once you have determined your subheadings, you can start mapping out each of the sections. This will be where you explain the importance of your subheadings, so if you need to break them down into subsections to better reach your audience, do it. Remember, the more detail you include in your brief, the easier it will be when you start writing.
Note: If you are struggling to write your brief with keyword research, we recommend Frase or SurferSEO. Both are great tools if you are trying to rank for a specific term or are simply lacking ideas for a topic.
Step 5: Start Writing
After you’ve finished your detailed brief, you are ready to start writing. You may struggle with finding the “perfect” words. Our advice to you: just start writing. With the help of your brief, at the very least you’ll be able to organize your thoughts on paper.
As you write, there are a few things to include to ensure you get the most out of your content:
- External links
- External links to good sources (not your competitors) tell your audience that you do your research too and help to build their trust by providing them with even more helpful information.
- Internal links
- Internal links boost SEO and direct your audience to other pages or articles on your website.
- Stats or quotes
- Including stats or quotes in your article shows authority, credibility, and helps to support your point. Don’t forget to reference those sources in your article, a link to where you found the information will work great.
- Visuals break up the text and can be a representation of your words, which for some readers, may be the key to helping them understand your topic.
- A clear next step
- Once you’ve completely explained your topic, it’s important you explain to your audience what they can do next to benefit from what you just explained. For example, if you just told them how regular bookkeeping makes the month-end closing process smoother, let them know they can reach out to you for a service that will handle their bookkeeping for them. This next step is usually the call to action.
You’ll also want to make sure you are keeping your audience engaged. There are a few ways to style your writing to make reading more enjoyable for your audience. Try including:
- Short sentences
- 2 sentence paragraphs
- Bullet lists
- White space
- Small, concise sections
- Headings that stand out
- Between 800-1200 words
If you are having trouble finding ways to incorporate any of this into your article, go back to our original bit of advice. Just write. You can always go back in and add links or edit your format to better engage your audience.
Step 6: Review and Publish
Once you’ve written down all of your thoughts in line with the brief, it’s time to make edits. First, you’ll want to review for grammar and typos. To help us proofread at Full Stadium, we use tools like:
Once you’ve taken care of the simple fixes, you’ll want to go back through and check to make sure your writing matches the tone of your business. For example, if your business uses a more personal tone, make sure your writing isn’t super professional.
You’ll also want to double (and triple) check that your article matches your original goal. Does it answer the question?
Finally, be sure to include the call to action we mentioned earlier. This is your final note explaining what they need to do next. Typically it tells them how they can get connected with you and your services.
After you’ve reviewed your article and are happy with the result, publish it to your site!
Step 7: Promote
Promoting is the final step in the content creation process. After you’ve put in all of the work of writing the article, you have to get it in front of people. Social media is the perfect place to get your message to your target audience, but you’ll want to make sure you are doing it effectively.
Start with creating a social schedule. A social schedule helps you determine what you are going to share and when. There are plenty of benefits in creating a social schedule, including:
- An outline of what you are posting so there is no “what should I post today”
- It helps you avoid sharing repetitive posts
- It ensures you are consistently posting (at Full Stadium, we suggest 2-4 posts per week)
- Consistency helps you connect with your audience
- Consistency keeps you top of mind
- Consistency shows you are attentive, reliable, and care about sharing useful information
Here is an example of a social schedule:
To promote your article, you’ll want to create at least two posts referring back to the article or the content inside of it. Each of your posts (your graphic and caption collectively) should:
- Answer to a question
- Make it obvious what your business offers
- Explain how you can get them from point A to point B
- Include a call to action
Once you’ve crafted your posts and captions and added them to your social schedule, you’ll want to do a similar review process as you did with your article:
- Check for grammar or typos
- Make sure the tone matches your business
- Ensure the post meets your goal
From there, all that’s left is to share!
Need help leveling up your content marketing?
Content marketing has the ability to grow your firm to new heights. It takes having a solid strategy and producing consistent, valuable content to see its full benefits.
Hopefully, our step-by-step guide will help you reach your goals, however, if you still find yourself struggling to create great content, or simply don’t have the time. Reach out to us!
At Full Stadium Marketing, we follow our seven-step process to help business owners grow their business through content marketing. Visit our website to learn more about how we can help you!