Content Marketing Strategy development, especially of the standard variety, can be unwieldy and cumbersome for solopreneurs or small businesses. Below we have a system we follow that shows you some simple steps you need to get your Content Marketing strategy right. Having a strategy helps you do things in a structured way for best cost-efficiency, easy manageability and reliable results. Without a good Content Marketing strategy, most solopreneurs would flounder, not knowing what to do before what, and what should be the priority at each stage of activity. With a good structure, though, your workload will get streamlined and productive. So here is a strategy development model that you, as a solopreneur, can understand and easily follow.
The model below has an outline and also some important meat. Any program becomes do-able for a solopreneur if it’s easy to learn – and once learned, can become semi-automatic too. That’s what this 7 T’s model is all about.
The 7 Ts Content Marketing strategy model for solopreneurs
To have a complete yet simple process model for your content marketing, this 7 T sequence will be very useful. The first four stages of this model are to do with firming up your strategy. The last three stages relate more to the implementation of strategy. Let’s take them one by one to see what is involved.
Step #1: Topic
The first step you need to firm up on is your topic for content marketing. A lot of people suggest that you should start with some product idea in mind to sell, but it’s not always necessary that you have a product in mind first to decide your best content marketing topic.
You could instead have a topic in mind first, based on your own areas of experience or passion, or both You could later research the potential to introduce products and services that your reading audience would like, and you could then plan to supply their needs.
Since content marketing requires a lot of content to be produced, it helps to work in an area of your experience and passion. Before you get any one else interested in what you have to say on a topic, you have to find the topic interesting to you, to be able to write a lot about it from different angles.
Step #2: Target
Once you’ve decided on your best topic for content marketing, you need to explore who your target audience could be. It would help to do a bit of competitive research at this stage to see what kind of target audiences your competition is addressing.
Let’s take an example. Let’s say you are an eco-consultant who wants to do content marketing on “green buildings”. You need to see if any competitive eco-consultant or business is in the same topic area as you want to be – and if yes, what their target audience profile is. For instance, you may find a competitor who addresses “architects of green buildings”, while another addresses “green office buildings”.
You may then try to see if you could focus on “green residential buildings”, and thus target the current and potential owners of homes of this kind. Many solopreneurs don’t really research competition’s target audiences before they decide on their own, but this is an important aspect of research you must not skip.
Step #3: Tilt
Your content tilt – sometimes referred to as “slant” – is the angle of approach you want to take towards your topic. Let’s stay with the same example of you being the eco-consultant who wants to target owners and potential owners of “green residential buildings”. Now, what is the content tilt to take?
Do you want to approach the subject from the energy-efficiency angle, or the cost-efficiency angle, or the social responsibility angle, or the healthier living angle? You may ask: Why can I not address all four issues concerning these green residential homes and their benefits?
But consider this: would the person who wants such a home for the cost-efficiency angle be as enthused by the ecological responsibility angle? Or would the energy-efficiency-conscious target audience be as enthused by the healthier living angle?
People – your target audiences – may differ in their motivations for buying green homes, even if they all want green homes. The more narrow you are in your choice of content tilt, the more your words will totally resonate with the driving motivations of the target audience you have in mind. Don’t worry about your niche being too small. The smaller the niche the tighter the bond between the marketer and the target audiences.
Step #4: Traction
Traction is the momentum you generate when you start. As with all starts traction is tough to achieve, but as you get moving, things become easier to get into motion. You have to plan your mode of initial traction for your content marketing.
This involves deciding on your best and easiest content production platform (a blog or a podcast or videos, whatever comes easiest to you). Most people start with blogging, because even if writing is not exactly your forte you still have to be able to write if you want to create a podcast script or a video script!
Decide where you’re going to start content marketing from – your own blog, or on blogging platforms like Medium or LinkedIn Pulse or Blogger, or via blogging on other people’s sites (as guest blog posts). Again, the recommended best practice is to start your own blog, so that you don’t lose all your efforts if the owners of those other blogging spaces suddenly change their policies.
You’ll also have to plan upfront how much content you can single-handedly produce and with what frequency. A lot of solopreneurs feel extremely pressured to produce a lot of content because they hear from other experts that you have to write a lot before you start getting results. That is true, but you have to get to that level of saturation at a speed you can sustain, right?
Just to be able to get results, can you hope that you’ll become an automated content machine without tiredness, emotional down days or genuine distractions? Most of the time, we solopreneurs are defeated by our own unrealistic expectations of ourselves. So plan big, but take small steps that are manageable. You’ll get there fast enough, don’t worry!
Step #5: Traffic
When the 4 steps described above are completed, you get a better grip on what implementation steps you need to take. Now you have to get down to action. The first thing to do here is to ensure you get adequate traffic flowing into your website or blog, because without traffic you can’t get too much further with your business than making plans.
Traffic sources also need to be planned, but to me, traffic is an action step, simply because it takes trial and error to know which sources work best for you in bringing traffic to your doorstep. You may plan some sources of traffic, but find that something else entirely actually works to bring that traffic to you.
It helps to begin with a few traffic generation steps that are easier to implement than others. For instance, you can optimize your blog posts for search engines, to give Google a try for attaining some rankings and visibility.
Simultaneously, you can seed the social media with updates on a regular frequency, and also increase your followers on these social channels (if you follow them, some of them will follow you back). A third avenue that sometimes works well for starter-bloggers is guest-posting on other high-traffic blogs with backlinks to your own blog.
I want to share here that I tried all this for nearly six months with no sign of traffic. Then suddenly one day, one particular blog post of mine, for some reason I cannot still explain, went slightly “viral”. That was it. The floodgates of traffic suddenly opened. This is why, from personal experience, I’d say: “Plan your traffic sources, but be prepared for trial and error – and a few surprises”.
Step #6: Tribe
Once you start getting traffic, you then focus on building your loyal community of followers and fans. You do this by having a system on your website to capture email addresses of those who visit, so that you can then put them on your subscriber list, and make sure they are alerted to visit your site again and again, when you add new blog posts.
The more touches you have with people, the more they recall you with positive vibes – so long as you are not seen as overtly trying to sell them something in the guise of keeping up communications. An ideal frequency of emailing would be about once a week. Don’t get overzealous.
Capturing email addresses requires that you give away something valuable in return – for free. Usually it’s an ebook – or better still a multi-part email course. The email course idea works better simply because it gives you a reason to email people with their permission, for seven or ten consecutive days, while you and your blog are still fresh in their minds.
Remember one thing, when you build your community or tribe. You also have to figure in another secondary tribe of people who have influence, and can get more people into your primary tribe. So building a network of influential people who can recommend you, your blog and your community, to others who have not yet joined you, must be part of your effort.
Step #7: Transact
There is a concept in content marketing that you need to know before you can begin transacting with and monetizing your subscriber list. It’s called the Minimum Viable Audience – or MVA. It refers to the minimum number of loyal subscribers you need to have to be able to sell something to them.
If you have too few people, your chances of knowing what is the best product to create for them or sell to them doesn’t become clear. You find that you don’t get the kind of feedback you need, to get a good fix on what is marketable to the audience you have.
If you’re not clear about what to sell, you may spend hours of your valuable time creating something that has no demand. As a solopreneur, your time is money. You can’t afford to be spending time on something that is unsure of producing money.
Brian Clark of Copyblogger has a great explanation of how a Minimum Viable Audience can help you in many ways:
“A minimum viable audience (MVA) helps with finding out what people are willing to buy. But for digital media entrepreneurs, a MVA does much more than that, thanks to the power of agile content marketing. You have an MVA when:
(a) You’re receiving enough feedback from comments, emails, social networks, and social media news sites in order to adapt and evolve your content to better serve the audience.
(b) You’re growing your audience organically thanks to social media sharing by existing audience members and earned media.
(c) You’re gaining enough insight into what the audience needs to solve their problems or satisfy their desires beyond the free education you’re providing.
Not only will the audience reveal what it wants, it will reveal what’s not right for the long-term benefit to both them and your company. You’ll know what not to do as much as you’ll know what to do.”
The truth in what Brian Clark writes has been seen by almost all successful solopreneurs doing any kind of online business. The money is in the mailing list, and the “what to sell” is in the Minimum Viable Audience. What your MVA magic number is may be different for every solopreneur. But you’ll know when you’re beginning to get feedback, organic growth of your list and more two-way conversation, that you have that audience that is able to indicate its demand.
So what are your thoughts on this topic? Do share!
This post is incomplete without your input. The community of aspiring digital solopreneurs would feel galvanized to hear from you … so do share your thoughts on this topic with us in the comments field below this post.
Other articles in our series “Content Marketing Strategy”:
- Micro Marketing … Going Granular Can Help Solopreneurs Grow Faster!
- 20 Questions That Can Help Shape Your Content Marketing Strategy!