The days of viewing content marketing and the latest and greatest thing are over. Not because content marketing isn’t the greatest thing (I certainly think it is, but I might be biased), but because it isn’t new anymore. Over 81% of business are using content marketing to increase brand awareness and drive customer loyalty.
Content marketing used to be a way to stand out from the competition, but that’s no longer the case. Content marketing is the rule – and now the challenge is how to effectively utilize content marketing in ways that sets you apart from the competition. How can you outperform the hundred and thousands of other marketers and businesses going after the same goal? By creating top-quality content that drives clicks, comments, shares, and conversions. Of course – that is easier said than done!
Creating top notch content takes time, practice, and a lot of effort; but having a creation strategy in place takes some of the pressure off. Here is the four-step process that we use for creating our 4-5 blog posts per week here at Fusion Group USA:
1. Brainstorm and Schedule
We follow an editorial calendar that is generated one month at time – so, half way through February we sit down and plan March’s blog posts. But this scheduling and planning session is more than just filling in a calendar with topics and ideas – it is also a brainstorming session where we talk about theme and trends we’ve seen develop over the last month.
Many marketers suggest planning content several months in advance, but we find that limiting in an industry that changes as quickly as web design and SEO. These combined brainstorming and scheduling meetings provide a shape for the next month and make sure that everyone is on the same page and ready to contribute to creating top quality content.
2. Research and Engage
Once we have topics nailed down – the real work can begin. Each topic is researched to give much needed specificity to the broader outlines of the editorial calendar. This allows for shifts in focus, and gives our writers room to explore any given topic.
We also take this time to engage with thought leaders and current trends through forums, blog commenting, and social media. By being an active part of the conversation, our content research become personal – going beyond merely picking topics to something that we are actively invested in. This engagement also helps to shape and form later brainstorming sessions.
3. Format and Structure
With the research and engagement finished, we turn to format and structuring the content. In this step, we first ask questions about what format type will best fit the content. Should it be an educational blog post or an infographic? An expert round-up or an in-depth interview? Each piece of content has been shaped by the research process and the formatting step allows that research to shape the final product.
Structure speaks to the formal layout of the content. This step involves a basic outlining or wire-framing of the concept to ensure that it flows properly. While the research, engagement, and formatting steps are all done by one person; the structuring brings the team back together. We share structures and outlines to ensure that our ideas will make sense to an outside reader.
4. Create and Refine
With a working format and outline, we turn to actual process of content creation and refinement. Many people tend to jump right into the content creation – but this step is extremely difficult with the first three complete and in place. Because we invest so heavily in the early stages of content creation, the actual process of writing or creating is relatively easy. Sitting down to write is easy with a detailed outline and a clear goal in mind.
Once the piece is finished we again collaborate to refine the content. This step includes technical editing, cleaning up confusing language, adding depth, and just general notes on the content. Once a piece has been through the refinement process, it is kicked back to the creator for final tweaks and then marked as ready to use.
This may seem like an overly complicated process – but by investing heavily in the early stages of the process we have created a system that ensures quality content produced regularly and on schedule. The days of fretting over topics and staring at a blank screen are gone. Instead we have clear daily goals and with just the right amount of flexibility.
I’m not saying you should copy our steps exactly – the key to creating quality and regular content is to find what works for you and stick to it. For Fusion Group USA, that meant balancing clear scheduling with flexibility and we have found that in our current system. If it works for you, great! If you think we’re totally crazy, that ok too – maybe just leave us a comment and let us know why!