I often talk to startups and small businesses that are struggling with content marketing.
The problem stems from mismatched expectations and a fundamental misunderstanding of how content marketing works. See, it’s not as easy as hiring a cheap writer, asking them to brainstorm ideas, inserting the keyword in your title, sprinkling it across the article, and hoping for the best.
Customers these days expect top-tier content from the brands they love and that expectation is not going anywhere. Long gone are the days when Google could be gamed by simplistic techniques like keyword stuffing. Its algorithms are smart enough to recognize search intent and they are remarkably good at deducing whether or not an article fulfills that intent.
What is the solution? It’s still content marketing but we need to look at it from a different lens.
It’s my hope that through this article, designing a great content strategy will become an intuitive process rather than a formulaic one.
Enough chit chat. It’s scenario time!
A Pusheen Store Owner Needs Help!
Imagine you own a business that sells these adorable plushes.
In an ideal world, you have a market monopoly and are known as the place to get these plushes. You even have the best prices!
Let’s snap back to reality though. For every popular and profitable business, competition is inevitable. There are niche stores, there’s a giant elephant in the room called Amazon, and dozens of other stores that are sourcing the plushes from the same factories you’re using.
I’ve told you content marketing is the solution. But since you’re smart, you have the reasonable expectation that If you’re spending hard-earned dollars on content marketing, the outcomes should be just as tangible.
I couldn’t agree more.
While there are dozens of definitions of content marketing and the benefits it offers, I find that the one that resonates the most with savvy business owners like you is this one: a successful content strategy has a direct and measurable effect on sales.
Sure, you could design an advertising campaign and blitz your way to higher sales but that isn’t a sustainable solution. If you want compounding organic growth, content marketing is the ideal solution.
Not only does a great content marketing strategy help drive sales to grow your business, it also builds a relationship with your customers, increases engagement, and helps your brand stand out.
Note: Content marketing is a long-term strategy. However, it’s still possible to get results in a few months (more on this later in the article).
Let’s do a short recap. We sell cute plushes but the competition is intense. We want to design a content strategy to help drive sales and build brand loyalty over the long term. What should we do?
Generating Ideas for Great Content:
Instead of coming up with content ideas in a vacuum, try putting yourself in the shoes of a typical person who is buying a Pusheen plush.
If I’m buying a Pusheen plush, it’s safe to assume I like stuffed toys and I am looking for something cute. It’s more likely I’m buying it as a gift for my girlfriend, nephew or niece, or a friend. And I would definitely be interested in other Pusheen related products like pins, toys, mugs, and others. So blog posts about Pusheen gift ideas and products would probably be helpful and rank well too.
Understanding buyer intent is an intuitive way to brainstorm and quickly get ideas on paper.
Another great (and free) way to find more ideas is to look at Google’s related queries at the bottom of the search results page.
Not only are these great for finding content ideas, these results can also inform business decisions. For example, it might be smart to add new mermaid and pumpkin Pusheen designs to your shop!
At this point, I’d suggest making a Google Sheet to keep all ideas in one place. After varying your search terms and exploring related queries, you might have something like this in your sheet:
Notice that I’ve organized the keywords in clusters. If our content marketing strategy is a tree:
- Pusheen is the trunk.
- Pusheen toys, Pusheen Family, Pusheen Pictures, Pusheen Keychains, and Pusheen Games are the branches.
- Keywords under the respective branches are the leaves.
Our aim is to have a healthy tree with a strong base and a lot of branches and leaves.
Note: For a far more systematic way to assess the competition and find keyword opportunities, you’ll need a tool like Ahrefs or SEMRush.
It can tell you technical things like how competitive your keywords are, how many backlinks it’d take to rank in the top 10, and other useful information for a snazzy content marketing strategy.
Jumping across to the news tab on Google is also a great way to generate ideas.
Pusheen News is a great topic cluster since feel-good stories get a lot of engagement and have a high chance of going viral. To stay up to date and cover the news on your blog when it’s relevant, you can use Google Alerts to get an email as soon as something related to your keyword (in this case Pusheen) gets published.
Here’s what our final idea sheet looks like:
Let’s try coming up with some content ideas.
- Gift ideas for your Pusheen-loving girlfriend.
- The most adorable gifts you can buy this Christmas.
- 10 Pusheen products we NEED in our life.
- A photo post on the newest Pusheen Cafe.
- Feel good articles on how Pusheen toys are helping hospitalized children stay optimistic.
- Pusheen party games you can play with your family.
- Everything you need to know about Pusheen’s family.
- The cutest Pusheen pictures to express every emotion.
At this point, the limit is your creativity. While it’s not as applicable in this case, it’s smart to have a healthy mix of short-form and more in-depth, long-form content.
A Warning Note About Metrics
A pitfall I often see people fall into is an unhealthy obsession with traffic. Instead of increasing traffic and virality of your content, you should focus on driving high-value customers and increase your conversion rates.
Remember, an effective content marketing strategy helps our business grow. So which article is better? One that gets 10,000 views and drives 100 sales or a targeted one that gets 1000 views but drives 150 sales?
Moving Beyond Articles on Your Blog
It’s important to remember that content marketing isn’t only about writing content for your blog. It is a far broader strategy that involves multiple content formats as well as different content mediums. It’s about relevance, engagement, and value addition.
With that in mind, it’s time for another brainstorming session. Our previous keyword research can help us but we should also try to find new opportunities.
Note: It pays to have domain expertise. Your ability to find great ideas at this stage will be severely compromised if you only have a rudimentary understanding of your industry.
- Pusheens are really cute. How about tutorials on how to draw your favorite Pusheens? We could even make printable coloring pages and allow people to download them!
- Where did Pusheens come from? Who made them? How old is our favorite fluffball? A fun video about Pusheen’s history could be interesting.
- How about a landing page for finding the perfect Pusheen GIFs? This could be a product on its own too!
- Who doesn’t love Instagram? How about making an account (you really should have by now though) and organizing competitions? We could give a giftcard to the owner of the cat that most resembles Pusheen. We could even post it on our blog and allow people to choose the winner! Engagementception! (I’m so sorry). Another could be brainstorming ideas for the next Pusheen design and awarding the winning idea.
- While we’re at it, let’s make our Youtube channel and do unboxings of all our Pusheen products too.
Hopefully, you’re starting to get a sense of the sheer amount of possibilities. A healthy mix of content types and content mediums will help drive sales, increase brand awareness, and unlock the compounding effect of organic growth.