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Preparing Your Content Roadmap

November 30, 2015 7:11 am

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Preparing Your Content Roadmap

content roadmapYour content roadmap is also your  plan for succeeding in your content strategy.

As a human being you are unique. And so is your business, regardless of whether you are a self-employed professional or the owner of a small to medium-sized enterprise (SME). No one serves and satisfies clients or customers the way you do.

Your brand reflects you and the way you do things.

Your content roadmap is different from all others. It is based upon your brand’s unique story, perspective, assets, and goals.

Here is how to prepare a content roadmap based upon your distinctiveness.

Content First, Marketing Second In Your Content Roadmap

The most successful content marketing is based upon downplaying, if not totally ignoring the marketing part of content marketing.

GE Reports is an outstanding example of successful branded content marketing. Tomas Kellner, a veteran editor now GE Reports’ managing editor approaches his job at GE as a purely editorial endeavor.

I really approached it as an online magazine rather than thinking about it as a company blog. I wanted to produce an online magazine that tells people something new,” he says.

I basically ignored press releases and focused one hundred percent on storytelling. My stories have real protagonists who are trying to solve real problems and reach real outcomes.”

Brands need to start with an audience-centered perspective,” he says.

Before you start to plan your content roadmap, you need to adopt that audience-centric perspective and focus on what your audience might want from you, not what you want from them.

As a content producer, also known as a writer, I love to write content. And given my experience in working with self-employed professionals and SMEs, there is no shortage of topics about which I would love to write.

However, as a marketing strategist I understand that the best way to satisfy the people who read my content is to write what they want, not what I want to write about.

Maintaining an audience-centered perspective requires a ton of self-discipline. But it’s essential to establish and maintain meaningful mutually beneficial connections with our audience.

Don’t Build a House on Land You Don’t Own

A second common element of successful content marketing is owning the platform from which the content is published.

Few of us would build a house on other people’s land.

From the perspective of content marketing, this means it’s better to own the distribution channel and the content rather than just owning the content.

In my case, this means publishing original content exclusively on my blog. I then post links to the blog content on Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Sure the social media accounts provide some metrics about who has read my posts. But it’s nowhere as extensive and useful as the statistics that come from my own monitoring and measuring tools.

Relying on Your Brand’s Expertise

An audience-first approach in your content roadmap does not mean ignoring your core mission and brand expertise. Great branded content almost universally ties back to the brand’s unique expertise and knowledge.

The key is to tell stories that connect to your brand without little if any promotional content.

Ideally these stories are sufficiently newsworthy that a stranger would say, “This is a really great piece of information. Maybe I should come back and check on them more often.”

That sharing of brand knowledge—whether it be a professional know-how, philosophy, an opinion, or an ideal—represents the core of great branded content.

Primary and Secondary Audiences

In marketing, there’s a temptation to try to be all things to all people. This is especially problematic for multi-talented professionals and SME owners. Their rationale goes something like: “I can do this and this and this. Why don’t I promote and sell it?”

No one an be all things to all people and satisfy everyone equally. Many (including me) have tried; few have succeeded.

A more simplified approach delivers the best results: target a primary and also a secondary audience.

Your primary audience consists of those ideal clients and customers that you love to serve and are good at satisfying. They are also the people who will return for repeat business and refer others to you.

Sometimes but not always, it might also make sense to identify a secondary audience. These are the kinds of clients and customers that you almost as good at serving and satisfying as you are those of the ideal variety. Be warned however, that pursuing more than two audience segments at the same time can jeopardize the focus and effectiveness of even the best content roadmap.

Once again, using my own content strategy as an example, my intended audience segments are:

Primary:

  1. self-employed professionals with 5-10 years of experience who work alone, typically from home or in small, rented offices.

Secondary:

  1. self-employed professionals with more than 10 years of experience who work alone, typically from home or in shared offices.
  2. owners of SMEs that have operated for more than 10 years

The two components of the secondary audience segment are not as disconnected as they may appear. The first component—experienced self-employed professionals—represents the mature, more experienced version of the primary audience.

The second component, SMEs, faces much the same marketing challenges as do experienced self-employed professionals. Given this commonality, it seems to make sense to include SMEs aas part of the secondary audience segment.

Using my example as a model, how do you define your primary and secondary audience segments?

Level of Understanding

Just because an individual who fits within your target audience, it does not also mean that person has a basic understanding of the topics you plan to address.

The next question to address the audience’s previous knowledge of the your subject. The best approach

is to classify that level of understanding according to five different groupings.

Novice

Has an incomplete understanding, approaches tasks mechanistically, and needs supervision to complete them.

Advanced Beginner

Has a working understanding, tends to see actions as a series of steps, can complete simpler tasks without supervision.

Competent

Has a good working and background understanding, sees actions at least partly in context, able to complete work independently to a standard that is acceptable, though it may lack refinement.

Proficient

Has a deep understanding, sees actions holistically, can achieve a high standard routinely.

Expert

Has an authoritative or deep holistic understanding, deals with routine matters intuitively, able to go beyond existing interpretations, achieves excellence with ease.

Once again using my own intended audience segments as an example, my primary audience could be further refined to be competent at marketing professional services. Given that it has more experience, the secondary segment would be proficient.

There is no magic or secret formula to determine the specific level of understanding. It depends largely upon market needs and personal preferences.

Demographics

Next it’s time to understand the demographics of each of those sub-audiences even further.

What is the age, gender, education background, etc. of the target reader in each demographic?

The task of identifying demographics appears in two other areas of your marketing: ideal clients and buyer persona. Instead of repeating what you have already done, revisit these two areas and consolidate the information into profiles of your primary and secondary audience segments.

The Content Component of Your Content Roadmap

With a clear understanding of your ideal readers and what they might want from you, the next element of your content roadmap is preparing the actual content. However, before settling into writing mode, check out the great content you probably have lurking away in your archives. The next post will address how to make the most of your existing and archived content.

If you already have a content roadmap, how is it working for you?

On the other hand, if you don’t have a content roadmap for your content marketing, you might consider developing one.

In either case, If you like you can schedule a free laser coaching session to discuss how your content roadmap can enhance your content marketing.

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