7 Steps to Becoming a Content Marketing Machine

7-Steps-to-Becoming-a-Content-Marketing-Machine“Suck it up, buttercup.”

That was Mary Ellen Slayter’s advice to an audience member at her recent presentation at the Louisiana Technology Park when asked how to actually begin the writing required to generate content. “Don’t let perfection be the enemy of done,” she said. “I’d rather have two decent blog posts published a week than one perfect post that’s never quite completed.”

This and many more tips were on deck for her presentation, “How to Stop Stalling and Become a B2B Content Marketing Machine” as part of the Tech Park Academy lecture series.

She laid out a seven step plan to get out of your own way and start generating content. If you’re looking for ideas to bolster your content marketing process, take a peek at the plan she shared.

Step One: Define Goals and Create Your Content Mission

Why are you interested in content marketing? Do you want to be considered an expert or thought leader in your industry? If so, your content should back that up. Set quantifiable goals that align with that overall purpose.

Examples of good goals:

  • Increase qualified leads by 10 percent.
  • Get 15 new referrals from existing clients.
  • Shorten the sales cycle by one month.
  • Increase average deal size by $2,000.

Examples of weak goals:

  • Increase page views.
  • Increase number of Facebook followers.

Slayter calls these numbers “vanity metrics” because they make you feel good but may never convert to a lead or sale. You can keep an eye on these figures, certainly, but as a B2B marketer, you don’t need millions of people coming to your website or social profiles. You’re trying to attract the specific buyer who needs your service.

Step Two: Identify Your Target Audience

When identifying buyer personas, people go to one of two extremes: They include way too much information or not enough.

Don’t overdo it, she says. Think about who this person is, how much they know about your industry already and other things they may read. You’re competing for their attention with other blogs and media sites.

As an example, Mary Ellen shared Rep Cap’s three personas: owner or CEO of a small business, CMO of a medium company, and editorial manager of a Fortune 500 organization. Each piece of content we produce speaks to one of those people — not all of them. Don’t try to be all things to all people. If you want half your business on the small side, write half your content with them in mind. Solve their problems.

“What are the questions you answer for clients all the time? Those are your first 10 blog posts,” she said.

Step Three: Find Your Perspective

What content are you going to put out there that’s actually useful? How are you going to communicate what’s special about your business? Use your content to amplify that difference.

As you share your perspective, don’t be afraid to share other people’s valuable content, as well. Interview your clients and prospects and talk about other initiatives that are working for them, Slayter suggests. You may get a sentence or two from them about the good work you did, but that post will be shared because clients and prospects will want to brag about themselves and you can cash in on their reflected glory.

A good guideline is for one of every 10 blog posts to focus on your company: a new product launch, an award you won, etc. Focus the rest of your content on service and sharing. For social media, only one in five posts should be about you.

Step Four: Build Your Dream Team

To start producing high-quality content on a regular basis, you’ll need the following roles:

  • Managing editor
  • Author
  • Writer
  • Editor
  • Designer
  • Content production assistant
  • Subject matter experts
  • Promoter
  • Analyst

Many of these roles can and will overlap. Your team might include just a few people, but it’s important to consider each role in the content process.

The managing editor takes responsibility for the brand. They may or may not write, edit or promote but they are in charge of making sure what you put out matches your voice and goals.

The author is the person listed on the byline. This might be the writer, who did the actual writing, or it may be someone else the writer is ghostwriting for. (It’s not lying; it’s marketing!)

Your subject matter experts may not be the best writers on your team, so let the writers interview them.

Invest in great editors and designers to bring some polish to your content. Production assistants can do the repetitive tasks like loading things into WordPress.

The promoter shares your content social media or other avenues and the analyst reports back on how the content is doing.

Step Five: Create Your Editorial Calendar

Slayter likes to map out editorial calendars a month in advance, at least. She likes to align with any ad campaigns or special events coming up:

  • Going to a trade show? Leave some space in the calendar to blog from those sessions.
  • Have a white paper coming out? Include a call to action be to download that asset.

She uses a Google spreadsheet to determine publication date, author, writer, title, buyer persona, call to action and any editorial notes for the team. There are lots of editorial management tools out there, but “I haven’t found one that makes me want to switch,” she says.

Step Six: Plan Your Distribution

If you’re blogging twice a week, you should easily be able to package a few of those posts into an email newsletter. At Rep Cap, we send two emails a month to share articles from our blog along with outside content. “If you’re producing quality information that helps people do their jobs, they don’t mind it. They won’t consider it spam if it’s useful,” she said.

One tip Slayter shared that she considers must-do: Design for mobile. If your newsletter is too complex and unwieldy, it won’t work well on the go and most people read email on a mobile device.

Step Seven: Monitor and Track

Check your analytics and review reports about once a month. Any more than that, Slayter says, gets too distracting and you’ll be obsessing over minutia. She recommends a deeper analysis once every quarter and a big review once a year.

For those reviews, go back to your goals from step one. Did traffic go up? Did you reach the right people? Did you shorten the sales cycle or increase referrals? See if your marketing is aligning with those goals and adjust if necessary.

Overall, it was a great presentation. Mary Ellen is my boss, though, so you can’t take my word for it. How about this feedback from attendee Courtney Sparkman, CEO of OfficerReports.com?

“Mary Ellen nailed this seminar! I can count at least seven takeaways that I can start applying to my business immediately.”

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Reputation Capital Media Services is a Baton Rouge, Louisiana, marketing agency that helps B2B companies and their marketing agencies produce high-quality digital content, including blog posts, e-mail newsletters, white papers and multimedia. Our editors and writers are experts in their fields, which include HR technology, employee benefits, and financial services and accounting. Contact us for a free 30-minute consultation to find out how great content can help you attract and retain your customers.