Content is a cornerstone of effective marketing. And when you combine your content marketing efforts with the utility of marketing automation, a lot of good things can happen.

But, before you go creating content without any real idea of how it matters or where to use it, think about your customers and your ideal audience. The better you know them, the better you’re able to create the right kinds of content, content that’s personalized and tailored to their needs.  

I’ll walk you through the only guide you’ll ever need for creating content, including the types of content you should be creating and why.

The Guide to Content Creation

Step 1: Set Your Goals

Every strategy needs to begin with a goal. Otherwise, how will you track how effective it is? Before you put finger to keyboard, you have to list the goals you’re hoping to achieve with your content. Some goals could include:

  • Provide better material for lead nurturing 
  • Have go-to material your sales team can use
  • Spread your brand’s knowledge and thought leadership in your industry 
  • Get more brand exposure 
  • Generate more quality leads 
  • Increase SEO

Step 2: Audience Personas

You probably have a pretty good idea of who your ideal customer is. But that doesn’t mean you should forgo putting together audience or buyer personas

Personas encourage you to think deeply about who your audience is and what might make them motivated to use your services. When you put together your personas, you should try to answer the following questions:

What is my ideal customer’s…

  • biggest struggle?
  • job title?
  • boss or direct support?
  • customer?
  • industry?
  • day-to-day tasks and duties?

Also, take into consideration demographics, region, company size, etc. By addressing all these areas, you’ll be able to create a profile of the type of person you’re looking to target your content to, which will, in turn, inform the messaging you put together and the types of content you create. 

Step 3: Establish Your Internal Subject Matter Experts

You’ll want to identify your company’s designated subject matter experts. These are the people who will author your content and be the face and name tied to your brand. Most often, it’s a company’s CEO or president. But it can also include sales reps, your marketing team members, or anyone else who has valuable knowledge to share that delivers your strategy. 

If you have more than one subject matter expert, make sure you identify the areas they’ll be the experts of. For example, your president or CEO could help push messages centered on the core of your business, but they could also share leadership tips and content on business growth strategies. 

Step 4: Create A Process

Mapping out exactly how you’ll create your content is crucial, and you need to start from ideation to distribution. Your editorial process will keep all your team members accountable, and it ensures you’re on the same page regarding a system. 

The easiest way to go about this is to designate someone from your marketing team to oversee the entire process. You’ll also want to determine what tools and roles you’ll need and if you’ll be using freelance writers. Keep in mind that your subject matter experts might not have a ton of room on their plate for writing and creating content.

Some suggested content creation roles to consider:

  • Project Manager – manage the process so that each piece stays on track
  • Strategist – brainstorm topic ideas and provide research, so topics are on-message
  • Writer/Freelancer – write the content
  • Editor – reviews content for tone, accuracy, flow, and grammatical errors
  • Designer – creates any visual elements needed
  • Social Media Manager/Content Distributor – shares content out so as many people see it as possible

Step 5: Review the Buyer’s Journey

At each stage of the buyer’s journey, there are opportunities to use content to inch prospects further along and get them closer to a sale. This is why comprehending the three stages helps you identify the type of content you can use at each. And, the more you can tailor your content to a particular stage, the more you can nurture the prospects at that stage.

Awareness

Leads at this stage have established a problem that needs to be solved, and in their search for a solution, have just become aware of your brand. Since leads at this stage don’t know a ton about you, you’ll want to provide them with content that explains what you do and why you’re a solution. 

Types of Content:

  • Social Media
  • Press Mentions
  • Guest-Contributed Articles
  • Webinars
  • Blog Posts
  • eBooks

Some of these pieces will be published on your site, while others should be published on other sites and publications that your audience reads. This will help deepen your lead pool and build awareness through multiple channels at once.

Consideration

When a lead has made it to this point, they are considering using your company but are weighing you against competitors. Content at this stage will be primarily housed on your site and shared through various other marketing channels, including email and social media. Your content then needs to be geared toward deepening trust and proving that you’re the right solution for their particular needs.

Types of Content:

  • Blog Posts
  • Case Studies
  • Webinars
  • Service and/or Product Pages
  • Demos
  • Customer Testimonials
  • Email Newsletters and Drip Campaigns
  • Guides and Whitepapers

Build on your previous efforts by using posts from the awareness stage to link to this content, which will help create pathways that guide your prospects in the direction you want them to go. Guides, resources, and other pieces of gated content will help you convert these individuals from website visitors to leads, and will also help you enroll them in your email nurture campaigns.

Decision

Leads at this stage are ready to make a decision and, hopefully, partner with you. By now, they’re already enrolled in your email campaign and have received content personalized to their needs. Your content here needs to be focused on making a purchase decision.

Keep in mind that just because a lead has made it this far doesn’t mean they’re going to convert. Put just as high of a priority on content at the decision stage as you do at the awareness and consideration stages, and be sure to analyze your leads’ behaviors to see if there’s anything you can learn about how to tailor your content more. 

Types of Content:

  • Newsletters and Email Drip Campaigns
  • Case Studies
  • Demos
  • Customer Testimonials 
  • Pricing and Package Information

Step 6: Create Your Editorial Calendar

Your editorial calendar is your go-to resource for scheduling and planning your entire content strategy. It helps you keep track of each piece’s progress so you can maintain deadlines and adjust things as-needed. I recommend planning this for at least a month out, but do what works best for your team.

What it should include:

  • Specific days you’ll be publishing your blog content
  • Your guest-contributed content and when you plan to pitch it to online publications
  • Tags or categories each scheduled piece is tied to
  • The current status of the content

Your editorial calendar can also include your monthly newsletters and any one-off or specialty content you’re creating, like whitepapers, case studies, webinars, and guides. 

Step 7: Distribution

This step often doesn’t get as much love as it should. After you spend all that time putting together a creation process, an editorial calendar, brainstorming, writing, and tweaking, you need to make sure the right people see all your hard work. Create a distribution plan that includes sharing your content on social media, in your email nurture, and with sales prospects. 

Be smart with your content creation. Make sure that you focus on the right kinds of content based on where your prospects are in the buyer’s journey, and that you’re using that content in the right way.