Creating effective content is a challenge for any company, but early-stage startups without a lot of capital resources often find it even more daunting. Establishing a simple content creation process that’s efficient and maximizes the use of your resources will make that challenging much more manageable. In this post, we’re sharing a content creation workflow that’s effective and repeatable.
Start by Building a Foundation
The key to successful content marketing is providing content that’s relevant, interesting, and useful to your specific audience. What attracts one type of user or market segment won’t necessarily attract another.
Before you begin creating content, first map out a strategic plan. Ensure you understand your target audience and identify the types of content and topics that will drive action. As part of this plan, set goals so you have a clear definition of what you’re trying to achieve. For example, are you looking to raise awareness, increase sales, or drive usage? Your content will look different based on the goals you set. And if you’re trying to accomplish multiple goals, you’ll probably need multiple types of content and various topic collections. The following exercises will get you ready to start:
- Create buyer’s personas – Build buyer personas for each customer or user type. A buyer persona is a representation of your ideal customer or customer type. Be sure to base your personas on actual data, not guesswork. Include their goals, thoughts, behaviors, and motivations. You may have multiple buyer’s personas to reflect multiple user groups.
- Map the buyer’s journey — Identify the flow your users are likely to take through the purchase process. Start with the awareness stage, where buyers are learning about their challenge and defining it. What questions are they asking at this stage? See how they typically move into the consideration stage, where they’re researching solutions and ideas for solving the challenge. What do they need to know at this stage? Finally, identify the questions and issues involved in the decision stage, when they’re ready to make a purchase. Content should be created for each persona at each step along this journey.
- Select content promotion – Promote your content where your users are searching for solutions. These may include social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, Pinterest, and search engines like Google, as well as blogs, media publications, industry associations, etc.
Once you’ve built this foundation, you’re ready to start mapping out your content creation process.
Content Creation Process for Startups
When done strategically, a content plan will roadmap effective content for each stage of the buyer’s journey. Try to create a plan for six month’s worth of content. This will allow you to see the big picture and work strategically, while not planning so far ahead that new developments may scrap your plans. These five steps are all you need for a sustainable content creation process.
1. Brainstorm Types of Content
The types of content you create should be a marriage between the types of content your users and buyers prefer and the strengths of your team. Your content types will probably include educational articles, infographics and other graphics, native social media content, customer stories or case studies, marketing emails, videos, buyer’s guides, and sales scripting. You’ll also want to create content for vendor and investor presentations. For customers, you’ll need to create customer education and training, onboarding, and post-purchase support. Content can also support internal functions like employee training and process documentation.
2. Brainstorm Topic Ideas for Each Persona at Each Stage in the Buyer’s Journey
Give thought to topic ideas based on the questions your users will ask at each stage in the buyer’s journey. In addition to targeting the pre-purchase stages, be sure to include ideas for customers. Onboarding content will help establish a good relationship that will allow you to retain customers longer.
3. Do Keyword Research and Identify Opportunities
Your buyer personas will serve as a source for ideas on content topics. But you’ll also want to do keyword research for the content that you want to rank in search engines, especially if SEO is a key part of your marketing strategy. You want to target keywords that have strong search intent alignment with your content (i.e. when someone searches the keyword/phrase, they’re looking for something like your content). Ideally, you’ll find keywords/phrases that have decent volume with relatively low competition scores. This will improve the chances of your content being seen by the right people.
4. Create a Content Plan
Using the work you did in the first three steps of this process, create a prioritized content list that includes the types of content you’re going to create and the topics you’ll cover. As you do this, identify ways you can repurpose the content you’re creating. For example, from an instruction guide, you can create video tips, graphics, or write a series of social media posts that highlight sections of a recent blog post. Determine a timeline for creating the content. Last, map the content to a calendar to keep you on track.
5. Decide Who Will Execute
Now that you have your content plan, it’s time to determine who will create the content. This includes the writing, layout, graphics, and other production elements, which can be different for each piece that’s created. Consider if you will use in-house staff or outsource the work. If you outsource, decide which parts of the process you’ll get help with. Structure this around what makes sense for your team and each person’s current workload.
Content marketing is a highly-effective way for startups to attract and retain customers for the long term. Establishing a content creation process will help you create the best content you can within your budget, targeted to the people you want to become customers and users.
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