If you’re feeling overwhelmed and confused, I don’t blame you.
When using content marketing to build your business, you can work on: email marketing; cornerstone content; landing pages; paid traffic; building an email list; promoting your content on social media; creating opt-in incentives; writing and setting up an autoresponder (or five); offering webinars; using Blab or Periscope; running Facebook ads; offering content bonuses; hosting a podcast; creating content inside membership sites; publishing a book; writing guest posts … the tactics go on and on.
Faced with all these options for building your online presence with content marketing, where will you start?
What will you focus on first, second, and third?
Of course you’d like to have all of the above in place. And maybe someday you will.
But right now? All those tactics look like a mountain you need to climb. You don’t know which path to take to the summit. You don’t even know where to start!
At least, you didn’t know where to start. After reading this article, you will.
I’m going to share my favorite technique for making what seems overwhelming seem doable. I’ll show you how to prioritize those tasks so you can begin checking them off, one by one.
The fog of confusion will lift and you’ll have a crystal-clear view of the target you’re aiming for. Ready?
The answer is … it depends
One of the most-loved offerings inside our Authority advanced content marketing training program are the live Q&A sessions we host every month.
Those sessions are an opportunity to ask questions directly related to your business and your current circumstances where you can get advice and guidance from members of the Rainmaker Digital team.
And in those Q&A sessions, there’s one phrase we say often, always accompanied by an apology.
In business, the right path always depends on your current goal, the people power and tools you can count on, and the time you have available.
Know your goal and the resources you’re starting with. Taking these into account will help you as you prioritize your to-do list.
How to pinpoint your most-urgent goal
If you’re in the business world, chances are good that your ultimate goal is profit. And you know in a vague way that just about all the tactics mentioned above have the potential to reap profit.
If you work for a charitable organization, your ultimate goal may be donations. Or votes. Or community action.
Some of the tactics listed have a measurable impact on your goal right away. Most, though, are investments: you set them up today knowing that you may not see the payoff for a while.
For many of the tactics listed, you must have certain elements in place before you can use the tactic.
In the project management world, these are called dependencies.
Let’s look at a few:
- You shouldn’t send paid traffic to a site that has no content in place for visitors to consume. Using paid traffic is dependent on you crafting content on your site.
- It’s not a good idea to build a complex paid membership site until you’ve built an audience of people to offer it to. Creating and selling memberships is dependent on you building an audience.
- Writing guest posts is a waste of time unless you have a way to capture email addresses from the people who visit your site because of your posts. Building your audience with guest posting is dependent on you getting your email marketing set up and an opt-in form on your website.
The first thing to do when you see a brand-new content marketing tactic is to think about everything that needs to be in place upstream and downstream for the tactic to work.
This is easy to do if you think about your site visitors’ customer journey. As they walk down the path of getting to know, like, and trust you, what are the touch points along the way?
It might look something like this:
- A prospect searches for a keyword associated with your topic and lands on a cornerstone content page.
- On the page, they see a call to action to register for your website to get free information and tutorials related to your topic.
- Once they register, you send them a series of autoresponder emails about your topic. One of the early emails includes a coupon for 40 percent off the price of one of your most popular products.
- Those people who buy the product and become customers receive a series of autoresponder emails with tips for making the most of their purchase.
There are some fancy, high-tech, involved ways we could make the journey above happen. But let’s start out with a minimum viable approach so we can get it done! You can always tweak and improve later.
Let’s call this the “Phase 1 version” of the customer journey.
Phase 1: Necessary for launch
Pinpointing your goal is important. And identifying dependencies — tasks that must be accomplished before other tasks can happen — is important, too.
But approaching your tasks by asking, “What’s the shortest route between thinking this idea and making this idea come to life?” might be the biggest confusion-buster of them all.
Because in the end, the faster you go from idea to implementation, the faster you’ll begin to see results.
And the faster you’ll get feedback, too! Feedback is how you’ll discover if your product or service is working for the prospects you’re offering it to. And you can’t get feedback until your idea is launched and out in the wild.
As you look at all the things you could do to get your product launched, I urge you to ask yourself, “What’s a minimum viable approach to making this product live?”
For the example above, a minimum viable approach might be:
- A prospect searches for a keyword associated with your topic and lands on a cornerstone content page. Publish two or three cornerstone content pages that use the keyword you’re targeting.
- On the page, they see a call to action to register for your website to get free information and tutorials related to your topic. Create a tutorial you can use as an incentive for registration.
- Once they register, you send them a series of autoresponder emails about your topic. One of the early emails includes a coupon for 40 percent off the price of one of your most popular products. Write three autoresponder messages. Create a coupon for your product and include it in one of the messages.
- Those people who buy the product and become customers receive a series of autoresponder emails with tips for making the most of their purchase. Write three autoresponder messages for new customers.
That’s the minimum viable version of this plan. That’s a version that will get you from “idea in your head” to “idea in the wild” in the shortest possible amount of time.
Phase 2: Nice-to-have for launch (but only if there’s time)
Want to dream a little?
You can make your bare-bones launch more polished … but only if you have time to spare. Remember, our goal here is to bring that idea of yours to life as quickly as possible.
If you do have time to add some polish to your launch, try ideas like these:
- A prospect searches for a keyword associated with your topic and lands on a cornerstone content page. Add images throughout your cornerstone page. Write four to five pages total all related to your topic and all with the aim of enticing people to register for your site. Begin a social media campaign to promote the pages and reach out to site owners with similar audiences to let them know the pages exist.
- On the page, they see a call to action to register for your website to get free information and tutorials related to your topic. Add value by creating a worksheet to help people apply what they learn from the tutorial.
- Once they register, you send them a series of autoresponder emails about your topic. One of the early emails includes a coupon for 40 percent off the price of one of your most popular products. Write a few additional autoresponder messages and repeat the offer more than once.
- Those people who buy the product and become customers receive a series of autoresponder emails with tips for making the most of their purchase. Use marketing automation and branching logic to create if/then scenarios for prospects based on their behavior inside your autoresponder.
Phase 3: Can wait to be implemented later
Just for fun, let’s look at the fancy, high-tech, involved version of this same plan.
You don’t need any of the tactics below to launch, but once you’ve tested your idea and want to improve the performance of your offer, you can add bells and whistles like this:
- A prospect searches for a keyword associated with your topic and lands on a cornerstone content page. You use paid advertising to drive search traffic to the cornerstone pages you created.
- On the page, they see a call to action to register for your website to get free information and tutorials related to your topic. You use sophisticated landing page software to make the offer and you create and deliver a highly polished tutorial video with a worksheet and audio downloads.
- Once they register, you send them a series of autoresponder emails about your topic. One of the early emails includes a coupon for 40 percent off the price of one of your most popular products. You write an extensive autoresponder series — possibly 15 to 20 messages. You sprinkle offers throughout. You create elaborate, highly detailed content on pages on your website.
- Those people who buy the product and become customers receive a series of autoresponder emails with tips for making the most of their purchase. You use marketing automation to offer upsells to related products that are featured depending on behavior.
Pick your approach (but start with Phase 1)
Any of the approaches above will take your idea from in your head to in the wild.
Phase 1 is where you want to start, though. A minimum viable approach is faster, easier, and less overwhelming.
All those more-advanced tactics will be there waiting for you when you’re ready for them. Until you are ready …
Avert your eyes from that shiny object
Information about effective content marketing is shared using — guess what? Content marketing.
That means that as content marketers in training, we’re constantly exposed to new techniques, new ideas, and new approaches to creating effective content. This can lead to confusion and a feeling of overwhelm. And it can also afflict us with severe Shiny Object Syndrome.
Shiny Object Syndrome, as you probably know, is that state of mind that has us lurching toward one new idea after another, grasping for a cutting-edge solution without allowing our current approaches to play out.
When you set up your to-do list, don’t go after whatever new idea you’ve been exposed to recently.
Instead, think strategically about all the dependencies that need to be in place to get you to your goal. Use a minimum viable approach to getting your idea into its most basic form. Get it out into the wild so you can begin gathering feedback.
Where does constant learning fit into this?
So, how does ongoing education figure into this approach?
I’m not suggesting you close your eyes, plug your ears, and ignore all the new content marketing tactics you learn about. What I’m recommending is that you continue learning but divide your education into two categories:
- Deep dive education. If you need to set up your email marketing program, for example, you’ll focus on learning about opt-in incentives, effective calls to action, autoresponders, etc. Whatever tactic you need to employ that you don’t have a good grasp of, spend some of your education time doing deep dive learning so you can implement it successfully.
- Continuing education. You’ll also want to have an understanding of how all the pieces of content marketing work together, so don’t stop learning about other elements of content marketing. Just try to avoid seeing them as shiny objects you must implement immediately. Instead, treat it like continuing education that will help you do your job as a trained content marketer.
How do you prioritize your to-do list and your learning?
This feeling of overwhelm is common: I know because I’ve felt it myself and have spoken to many others who have too.
How do you sort through all the information out there and keep yourself informed? Let me know in the comments.