Ask content marketers why they create content, and you’ll likely get a blank stare.
We create content because it’s how marketing is done. We create it to educate and entertain our target audience. We use it to keep our products top of mind.
But all too often, we create content for content’s sake. We’re assigned a set number of articles a month — and we’re scrambling to meet deadlines.
When this happens, there’s nothing strategic about what we do. We may manage to drive awareness and build an audience, but our content doesn’t necessarily drive business.
That’s why we now focus on Competitive Content Marketing™.
What Is Competitive Content Marketing?
Competitive Content Marketing is a full-funnel approach to content marketing that engages people at every stage of the buyer journey:
- It gets you found in organic search and on social media channels.
- It captures people’s attention and interest.
- It educates them on their problem and potential solutions.
- It helps them make smart buying decisions.
It also positions you as the number-one choice for what you do, generating demand and making it easier to sell.
Clearly, this is nothing new. We’ve talked about all these initiatives for years. The challenge has been creating the right mix to drive real results — and doing it with a small team and tight budget.
What Makes Content Competitive?
To be competitive, you need to outperform your competition in a few key areas. In search engines, you rank on page one for the keywords related to your business. On social media, you have an engaged audience. Your blog drives traffic and conversions.
Competitive Content positions you as the leader in your industry. It gives you authority and builds trust, so customers don’t need to be sold. They come to you ready to buy.
To achieve these goals, a Competitive Content Strategy incorporates a mix of:
- Top-of-funnel social media content
- Blog posts and website content optimized for search engines
- Bottom-of-funnel content that helps educates buyers and features your product
- Authority content that explains your methodology and philosophy
Here’s why these types of content work…
Social media content helps you share your message on the social channels your audience frequent. There, you can build an audience and build relationships with them. Done right, it leverages the network effect while extending your reach and building authority.
SEO content lives on your website and helps you rank on search engines for keywords related to your business. This type of content helps you get found by people who are looking for the solutions you provide. It also educates and answers questions while building trust, name recognition, and credibility.
Product content helps you serve people who are trying to make a buying decision. It helps them understand the industry, the benefits of choosing you over the competition, and what they can expect after they buy.
Sales content is anything that helps your prospects understand the value of choosing you. It can be freely accessible on your website or used by your sales team. Think reports, guides, one-pagers, and case studies.
Authority content shares your expertise and methodology. This is often done through books, training, and live events.
Thought leadership should infuse all your content. Everything you produce should show off your knowledge and experience, so people understand that your products and services will solve their problems.
By targeting customers at every stage of the buyer journey, you build trust and awareness. You give them the information they need to make a better decision. And by doing so, you become a resource before they purchase, which makes you the obvious choice when it’s time to buy.
How to Develop Your Competitive Content Strategy
Content marketing has a lot of moving parts. To get it all done, you need a smart strategy that’s smart and efficient. Here are four steps for developing a strategy that gets results without becoming overwhelming.
Step 1: Set Your Goals
You need to know why you’re creating content. Generally, content can drive traffic, subscriptions, and leads or sales.
Ideally, you want to set one North Star metric that you optimize for. This is the most important outcome or result you’re trying to achieve.
It is possible to pursue multiple goals, but inevitably, you’ll run into situations where optimizing for one metric diminishes your ability to achieve another. To avoid frustration, set priorities and optimize for your North Star metric.
Step 2: Create Your Editorial Calendar
Your editorial calendar should sync with broader business initiatives. So before you build your editorial calendar, make note of upcoming marketing campaigns and the content they’ll require.
We like to use a spreadsheet for planning because it gives us a high-level overview of the content we’ll produce each month, and it’s easy to share for review and approvals. You could also use a project management tool like Asana.
Planning is simple:
List the types of content you need. In the first column, list the types of content you plan to include in your Competitive Content Strategy.
Create a column for each month in your planning period. Give yourself space to drop ideas for each piece of content you plan to create.
Plug in your ideas. Most content marketing teams create their editorial calendar around target keywords or marketing themes. Whichever way you approach it, enter your focus for each month, and plug in your ideas.
Note: Don’t try to plan in detail beyond three to six months. From our experience, you can create a detailed plan for the upcoming quarter. Beyond that, your needs will likely change, so your ideas need to be light and loose.
Here’s what our editorial planner might look like for a baking blog. We use the same template for our own blogs and B2B clients:
Step 3: Develop Content Creation Workflow
There’s usually a higher demand for content than resources to produce it. But you should never create more content than you can manage, or quality will suffer.
Check out this article on the three drivers of content marketing performance.
Poor-quality content won’t drive business results. If anything, it will hurt your brand and reputation. So find ways to meet your content demands without sacrificing quality. That may mean producing less content. It may require you to hire outside help.
Once you know the content you want to produce, there are 7 stages of content production:
- Creation of the brief
- Writer assignment
- Research and outlining
- Editing and and optimization
- Internal reviews and approval
This is a basic workflow that you can easily adapt by adding or reducing steps.
To keep your workflow on track, use a project management software. After all, your calendar is no good if you don’t actually create the content you’ve planned.
Step 4: Distribute Your Content
Your content can’t achieve its goals if no one sees it. A good distribution strategy ensures your content is seen and drives measurable results.
Make it a priority to share your content on social media, link to it from your other content, and send it to your email subscribers.
The Benefits of Competitive Content
Because Competitive Content is focused on results, not the content itself, it tends to drive results faster and more effectively. Here are some of the benefits we’ve seen.
Your content will demonstrate authority and expertise, which leads to:
Reduced funnel-leak. Competitive Content is a full-funnel approach to content marketing, which means it minimizes funnel leak. You won’t attract interested buyers, only to lose them to a competitor who does more bottom-of-funnel content. You’ll serve them at every stage of the buyer journey.
Increased trust. In business, the company that produces the most helpful content tends to win the most trust. You’ll be producing content for people who are just becoming aware of their problem, exploring options, and making their final buying decision. So you’ll gain fans and followers who trust you to answer questions and help them evaluate their options.
Proven customer focus. People want to know you’ll be there before and after the sale. If you’ve willing to share helpful information before the sale, you’re likely going to provide just as much value after the sale. That builds people’s confidence that you’ll always be there for them.
Your content will also drive business growth:
More traffic. Engaging social media content and well-optimized SEO content are both necessary to drive traffic to your website. Competitive Content focuses on both, so you gain traffic from multiple sources.
Quicker sales and revenue. When you’re seen as a thought leader in your industry and add value throughout the buyer journey, sales are easier. People trust you. They come to your website ready to buy.
Greater growth opportunities. With more revenue, you have resources to test and explore options for new products, more effective solutions, and expansion into new markets.
Competitive Content: The Foundation for Growth
In marketing, perception is reality. That’s why you need Competitive Content that positions you as the number-one option for what you do.
- Because it brings consistent ― and measurable ― results
- Because it’s 100% tailored to you and your business
- Because it yields results faster than most content strategies
Most content marketing programs focus on random articles and today’s hottest tactics. They may support growth, but they rarely achieve competitive preeminence.
That’s a shame, because content marketing is your best resource for establishing yourself as the leader in your industry. It only takes a small shift to ensure you’re creating a full-funnel strategy that gives you a competitive advantage.
Need help developing your Competitive Content™ strategy? Reach out, and let’s talk about what you’re trying to achieve and what it would take to get you there.