As an entrepreneur, executive function is one of your most important—and scarcest—resources. If you’re trying to come up with new topic ideas every time you’re sitting down to write an article or record a video for your content marketing program, you’ll feel like you’re spinning your wheels.
Dropping a blog post or a Medium entry whenever something big happens in your field can feel useful, but that “reactive” communication style costs a lot more of your time and energy than you really should have to invest.
Get strategic about choosing your topics
Instead, block out enough time to brainstorm six to twelve weeks of topics in advance. Pushing yourself to get more strategic about your editorial calendar may feel a little restrictive, at first. However, you’ll soon be able to batch your decision-making tasks separately from your writing or speaking tasks.
Plus, when you know your topics for the next few weeks, your brain can percolate ideas in the background that you might even capture in a notebook or a journal when you least expect them. By the time you hit a scheduled content creation session, the words will flow much more freely and you’ll save more time to focus on other aspects of your business.
Think about where your content fits along your customer’s journey
As you’re debating topics to slot into your editorial calendar, realize that you’re probably not getting enough mileage out of every content idea in your pipeline. The audience you’re creating content for isn’t just one big mass of people waiting to hear from you. They’re individuals that fall into one of five categories:
An audience that knows you very well (“Aware of You” or “Loyal Customer,” in our terminology) could expect much more detail and insight from you than an audience with whom you haven’t built any trust. When you’ve landed on a compelling topic idea, try building different versions of each content block for each of the five major stops on the customer journey. Not only will you get five times as much raw material for your platforms, but focusing on these different audiences also lets you draw out details that you’ll get to reinforce over time.
Spend your time and money wisely
It’s common sense to think that content’s a problem you can buy your way out of. Yet, many clients that sign up for our communications programs often admit that they found us after wasting thousands of dollars (or more) on ineffective tactics.
There’s nothing wrong with hiring a ghostwriter or a content producer to manage your company’s blog or generate videos for social media. (We still do quite a lot of this for our long-term clients). When you’ve developed a consistent tone and voice for your content, a competent copywriter should have no trouble turning your ideas and their words into an authentic extension of your brand.
However, you get what you pay for. If you’re thinking about hiring a content farm to crank out hundreds of articles at two bucks a piece, remember that the cheaper your content, the more energy you’re going to have to spend to get it to sound coherent and consistent with the rest of your work.
Likewise, if you’re tempted to hit the “boost post” button on your favorite social network, you’re probably just flushing money down the toilet if you haven’t hyper-targeted your ads at prospects on the verge of becoming buyers.