Like most 10-year-old girls, I used to dream of having a horse and was obsessed with all things related to riding and equestrian sports. Since I was raised in a working class suburb of a major capital city in Southern Brazil, I couldn’t really own a horse, so my mother managed to sign me up for riding lessons one summer, and that was just as good.
I had a really interesting instructor. He would yell. A lot. But one thing he would say stuck with me to this day, over 20 years later. As we got our horses to gallop in a circle, I would struggle to stay on the saddle, steer the horse and still look cool doing it. That’s when he would remind me to look ahead at where I was going and then steer the horse there.
If you can’t look ahead, you can’t plan your next move. You can only react.
Fairly simple, but when you are a new rider, it is easy to just let all your focus and energy go towards hanging on to your saddle and not falling. You tend to watch your horse instead of looking ahead. And if you can’t look ahead, you can’t plan your next move. You can only react.
“Look at where you are going!”. I can still hear his voice in my head. Quite frankly, it is easy to forget to do just that in many other areas of life and business. Starting off without a clear, firm target in mind is a common mistake we all have made at some point. And it also applies to content creation for your brand.
When it comes to writing content, every piece you publish should serve a function in your overall marketing plan. It should work as a tiny piece of a bigger puzzle. And the best way to create an effective piece is to start with the end in mind.
In other words, posting something just for the sake of posting is simply a waste of time and effort. You need to not only have a clear picture of your larger goals that are included in your overall marketing plan, but also understand how each post, article, meme, video or squeeze page will help you progress towards that goal.
Each and every piece of content needs to have a goal of its own and a C.T.A. (Call to Action). That doesn’t mean you will always have a hard call-to-action every time and ask for a sale. And it really shouldn’t be – part of your overarching marketing plan hopefully includes adding true value to your prospect’s life and sharing meaningful, useful information that goes beyond the “buy my stuff” mentality.
Start with the end in mind.
For example, you can publish a video or article in which you give away a quick tip that will help your prospect fix or alleviate a pain point they may have. Your goal might be to build brand reciprocity and trust, and your call to action might be to share that video, or post an answer to a question in the form of a comment. What you just published should not only have a stand-alone goal and call to action, but it should serve as a smaller piece of your overall marketing plan.
I saw this in action a few weeks ago by watching one of the masters in action.
Ryan Deiss from Digital Marketer sent out an email to his list right after Black Friday, promising to deliver just straight up free content, no sales, no opt-ins. You could just click on a video and get all the good stuff without opening your wallet. But because I like to reverse-engineer everything, I knew exactly what he was doing – and it was quite brilliant.
He knew his email list subscribers had probably been bombarded with sales ads and offers not only from him, but from all sides, and were probably growing tired of that and had their guard up. It was time to once again add value, build reciprocity and rebuild the relationship with his subscribers. There were three emails, each with a video full of value-adding information. But Ryan being Ryan had a very clear plan for those emails – and they turned out to be part of a product launch sequence announced later on.
What looked like a simple email sharing content just for the sake of it turned out to be a fundamental piece of a bigger puzzle. The email sequence itself had a goal of rebuilding trust and authority, and by offering an irresistible piece of content, each email had a call to action to simply click on the link to watch the video. The overall function of those emails was to prepare the ground for yet another launch.
So, next time you sit down to start working on some fresh content for your brand, ask yourself – What do I want this piece to do for my brand and for my reader/viewer? How does it serve my overall marketing plan and what is my immediate goal for it? What action do I want people to take after reading or watching this?
Start with the end in mind and you will have created not just another piece of content floating around the web, but a valuable asset to your brand, your marketing plan and most importantly, your customers.
Or as my instructor would yell out, “Look at where you are going!”.
Lauren Doucher, PMP, SMC
AWAI-Trained B2B Copywriter
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