Implementing a content development strategy is the key to winning over the hearts and minds of your target audience. There are two rules to following when building a content development strategy:
- Keep it simple
- They need to detail the steps you have to take to achieve business goals.
Complicated strategies only cause trouble. The simpler you make your strategy the better–as long as you’re not sacrificing its ability to produce the desired end result.
Following a Tactical Content Development Strategy
Finding a content development strategy is simple; perform a quick Google search and you can pick from dozens of options. The hard part is finding a strategy that helps you develop great content, meet brand guidelines, and pique the interest of your target audience.
I’ve found that the best way to create a profitable content development process is to use the following seven tactics.
1. Refine Your Targeting
The more you know about your audience the more effective your content will be. Developing content for your brand requires an intimate knowledge of the audiences you want to reach. More often than not, you’ll be targeting specific segments of your target audience.
For example; a checklist of programs that improve the efficiency social media content scheduling will have a different audience than an audit of social media accounts. Marketing and content specialists would make up the first audience, while the second would be business owners and entrepreneurs.
Conduct some research to figure out exactly who your most valuable audience segments are and then develop content with their interests and needs in mind.
Every type of content can be targeted, regardless of the medium:
- Social media posts
- Landing pages
- Email campaigns
- Blog posts and articles
- Web copy
- Free resources
- And more…
2. Free the Brainstorm
Surprising as it might sound, brainstorming is easy to screw up. I’ve participated in many creative brainstorms that fell victim to “group-think”. The first idea someone throws out becomes the only idea anyone talks about, and the only thing anyone says is “yes” or, “great idea”. That’s not brainstorming.
A good brainstorming session is energetic–sometimes boisterous–and involves everyone. All ideas are accepted, no matter how ridiculous they seem. Sometimes the best ideas are inspired by completely absurd ones.
- Have fun and get creative (aka ridiculous) with your ideas
- Never edit or judge an idea – this is the most important rule
- Don’t go past the idea stage – if you think about strategy you’ve gone too far
- Don’t make comparisons between ideas
You’ll have plenty of time after the brainstorm to pick apart each idea and settle on the best ones. Your only job during a brainstorming session is to produce as many ideas as possible and contribute to a productive atmosphere.
3. Evergreen Content for Life
Don’t waste time developing content that won’t be interesting to your audience a few days or weeks from now. Evergreen content holds their interest for years to come.
Take Neil Patel’s guide to SEO for example. It’s been around for many years, but it’s still
relevant and valuable because it’s updated on a regular basis and is packed with great content, including tactics, examples, and statistics.
Tips on creating content with lasting appeal:
- Provide value that will still be relevant 10 years from now
- Avoid creating content that revolves around trends
- Focus on content that educates
- Develop adaptable content (AKA content unaffected by context, the audience, or devices)
- Write listicles, how-to’s, product reviews and other types of articles that retain interest
A smart method for developing evergreen content is to create a resource on a subject in your field of expertise. As time passes, you’ll learn more about that subject and your expertise will continue to grow. This is the perfect opportunity to evolve your content over time, making it more valuable with age.
4. Development Never Stops
Most people think their job ends after the content is published and they’ve responded to a few comments. Nothing could be further from the truth. Publishing your content is only the first step. You’ll need to update it over time to stay relevant. Add new research as it becomes available and re-evaluate key points to ensure you still agree with the original stance. You don’t want to be quoting statistics from 2013 in 2017.
Few publishers methodically update their content. That means those who do are rewarded with more targeted visitors that arrive over an extended period. If you don’t continue to develop your resources, your content becomes obsolete and your audience looks to the competition.
5. Pour Energy into Creating Amazing Headlines
Take a moment to read the following two headlines:
- Reading is Good for Mental Health
- 7 Reading Methods that Boost Brain Activity and Make You Smarter
Which headline grabs your attention and which one would you click? They both tell visitors that reading is good for you, but the first one sounds flat and clinical. The second one, however, promises seven actionable ways you can use reading to become smarter.
The second headline is compelling, interesting, and noteworthy.
Headlines are the most important aspect of your content development. They make the first impression and ultimately determine whether someone views your content or not. If you don’t snag their interest right away, you won’t get a second chance.
Tips for crafting compelling headlines:
- Use actions words that evoke an emotional response
- Don’t create click-bait titles (“You Won’t Believe What Happened When this Tennis Player Did ____”)
- Personalize the headline by addressing the reader with “you,” “your,” and “yours”
- Be specific about the value you’re offering – people hate ambiguity
- Speak in active voice rather than passive
Focus on creating headlines that address the main issue by offering an element of fascination that piques the reader’s curiosity.
6. Quality, Not Quantity
When I started my first marketing internship after college, co-workers quickly noticed I was a fast worker and I earned a nickname; The Flash. Eventually, I began to focus on completing tasks as quickly as possible. Without realizing it, I had allowed the quality of my work to suffer by wrongly associating speed with efficiency.
Don’t let your desire to meet a deadline overwhelm your responsibility to create exceptional content. If you’re pressed for time, create less. It’s always better to publish one amazing piece of content rather than five sub-par pieces.
Content quality rules to live by:
- It’s more important to develop high-quality content than high quantities of content
- Rushing always leads to sloppy work that reflects poorly on you and your brand
- Focus on creating value for your audience
Here’s a simple quality test you can employ:
If you can’t stand to read through your content, it’s trash.
Content that doesn’t even interest the creator is worse than horrible; it’s damaging to your brand.
7. Become a Master Curator
Unless your business is large enough to house a content marketing team, you’ll need to curate third-party content. Many people get sucked into wasting hours every day hunting down the best links, videos, and photos they can share as third-party content.
Efficiency tips I’ve discovered that will help you become a master content curator:
- Create a living document of 12+ links from publishers with on-brand content you can share
- Use a curation service or app–like Flipboard or Pinterest–to store and organize valuable industry content
- Follow competitors on social media who practice good curation techniques and add relevant links to your living document
- Organize your curated content in an editorial calendar that allows you to schedule a week’s worth of content
- Balance the amount of third-party content with original content – the general rule of thumb is 3 pieces of curated content to 1 piece of original content
Everything Comes Back to Your Audience
Your entire development strategy is worthless if your audience doesn’t care about the content you’re creating. When the target audience interacts with your content–and seeks out more–you’re strategy is working.
The 4-step method for producing content that your audience cares about:
- Identify primary pain-points and problems
- Determine how you can solve their issues and address their concerns
- Agitate the problem in their mind’s eye so they recognize the value of your content
- Offer a solution
If you can place yourself in the mindset of your primary audience segments you’ll be able to provide value they won’t forget.
Content development becomes a smooth, efficient process once you put these tactics to use. The better your development process operates, the more time you’ll have to optimize content and make improvements. Remember, great content is wasted on the wrong audience.
Here’s the final word on content development; get your targeting right and then grab the audience’s interest with engaging, addictive content.