The core principle of branding is to develop, increase and enhance your knowability, likability and trustworthiness. We know that people buy from people they like- and people get to know you through the stories you tell.  Hello, content marketing! Just like a pavlova, the best content marketing comes from a slab of preparation and forethought, aka a strategy. 


So, what’s a content strategy? At the highest level, it is a locking down of the how and when of using content to connect with an audience. The ‘why’ is aligned to your business goals which is a post for another day but put simply, a content strategy for a services business could be as simple as:


  • Blogging- twice a month
  • Email – once per month
  • Social media – four posts per week across LinkedIn

There’s a reason I have blogging as my number one here – the blog feeds everything! I always encourage clients to have their website as their home planet for content marketing with everything orbiting around the blog. The other kick arse, fork yeah thing about blogging? It is the perfect vehicle for a content ladder. Apart from being shared as is as a link on your social media platforms, the content ladder for one post can become:


  • A LinkedIn article or article for a business/leadership journal such as Smart Company and Medium
  • A series of social media posts
  • A social media video
  • A social media graphic
  • A line in any speaking pitch/proposal documents
  • Content for an email newsletter campaign
  • Content for any workshops and presentations you may wish to deliver


More on typologies later…


Of course, the actual ‘what’ of the content is a whole other beast, but it comes down to who you are, what you do and what you want to be known for. Enter content pillars. 


I give a quick (and dirty!) overview of pillars in Write Your Year Annual Content Planner because pillars are incredibly powerful brand builders. Sometimes known as content buckets or content themes, pillars are basically what hold up your content marketing roof. It’s content that’s the end product of topics and ideas that have been sorted into clusters that fit, that make sense, that go together. 

I also love pillars because they stop content marketing to be a brain dump of everything that crosses your mind and provide a structure to align content tightly against broader business goals, propositions and positioning. It means everything you send out into the world is focused on what you actually want to be known for. It’s easier to write in a strategic way and also reduces the risk of you limiting or pigeonholing yourself. For example, picture someone who has Emotional Intelligence as the core focus of their work. They are conceptual and the content they provide shifts thinking first and behaviour second. They want the behaviour grounded in the knowledge that comes from strong emotional intelligence. It makes sense for one of their pillars to be about behaviour change but it must be grounded in the theoretical. They don’t want to get known as a shallow ‘get shit done’ guru but would rather be known holistically. 


Before we can identify pillars, however, we need the ideas that will form them. Hello, brainstorming! As per this post, there are a number of ways to approach brainstorming, oh so many ways, but a quick way to get moving with a blank sheet of paper is to think of a topic related to what you do and think of all the ideas that could fall out of that. You might have some core, niche or headline topics that you want to talk about. So, working quickly here, when I think of Emotional Intelligence straight away the ideas that arise are:


  • Mood tracking
  • The impact of EI at work and at home
  • The flipside ie what’s the impact of a lack of EI
  • How to develop a self-awareness practice
  • Do EI and self-awareness require practice?


That’s literally less than 15 seconds of thinking, and with further thought, I could break all five of those topics down further, and that’s with extremely limited working knowledge of what EI actually is! 


Another example comes straight from my content strategy. Let’s consider the pillar of writing and storytelling. Some quick ideas are:


  • Nuts and bolts (grammar, spelling etc)
  • Brand tone of voice
  • Why is storytelling so effective for brands
  • Pitfalls of brand writing 
  • Headlines
  • Writing fast
  • Banishing the inner editor.


Another way to come up with ideas is against the seasons. A numbers nerd who works with women in small businesses might have ideas against winter that could be around resilience, preparedness for slow months, (Winter is coming, after all), end of financial year action items. The number nerd’s ideas against spring could be about renewal and reviewing services. In Autumn it could be around trimming the fat of expenses (leaves are falling) and in Summer it could be all about new possibilities. 

Holly with a sticky note party

Pillars are one element of a content strategy, and the very best thing about content marketing (although, there are many very best things!) is the sheer versatility of bringing an idea to life. You can deliver your IP in a way that’s a gorgeous fit for your positioning, that’s interesting and fresh for you and your reader. There are so many different typologies:


  • Opinion pieces aka time to get those ranty-pants on
  • Q&As
  • Personal narratives and stories
  • Explorations
  • Interviews
  • Behind the Scenes
  • How to
  • Guest/client interviews and editorials
  • Reviews
  • Lists
  • Infographics
  • FAQs


So, what’s the feel and tone of your strategy? It always comes back to brand, business values and positioning. For example, my brand is about being informative, helpful, and accessible. My business values are about being creative, vibrant, insightful and inspiring and so a splash of funny is a great fit for my content. I want people to love being the communications director of their brand and if that involves Zoolander gifs? So be it.


As a final message, it’s a very rare strategy of mine for clients (and myself!) that doesn’t include a splash of a bragfest by way of a show and tell of the actual results and benefits people achieve through their interaction with a brand. It’s also an opportunity to showcase clients and I highly, highly recommend adding some form of shout out to your content strategy. 


Tell me, do you love blogging? Are you drowning in incredible ideas for your brand or is it an idea drought? I can help


I love writing about communications, writing, life in business and life in general! If there’s something specific you’d like me to cover in my writing, please shoot me an email or give me a buzz, and I’ll do my best to help, or address it in an upcoming blog post or on my social media platforms.

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