The 8 C’s of content: A checklist for more effective marketing

To paraphrase Dan Kennedy: It doesn’t matter what you sell, all businesses are marketing businesses.

As a marketing business, your job is to create compelling content (in its various forms) to attract potential buyers into your sales funnel and to move them along your sales funnel toward a sale.

To do that effectively, your content needs to contain the right combination of elements and perform the right combination of objectives. So I’ve created this 8 C’s checklist to help you create more effective marketing content, regardless of the type of business you run.

Every time you need to do some marketing in your business — no matter if it’s a radio advertisement or YouTube video or SEO article or PPC ad or blog post, just follow these 8 steps to get the most out of your marketing…

Concept

Identify what it is you want this particular piece of content to achieve in your overall sales funnel. You can identify the objective of the content, what type of content it should be (i.e. written, video, audio, etc.), and where you want the content to go. This is high level information and it might change as you go but it’s a starting point. Note: This is often the information you get from the owner or your manager; or if you’re the owner or manager, this is often the first initial ideas you develop.

Example: “Our current target market is middle-aged male investors with a net worth of over one million dollars. I’d like to create some content to reach out to middle-aged female investors with a net worth of over one million dollars. I’m not sure exactly where to put this content just yet but I’d like to target YouTube so let’s think about a visual medium“.

Context

Identify the context that your content will be viewed in. What is your target market thinking about? Where do they spend their time? What did they do just before they encountered your marketing? What else is going on in their life? Try to paint a picture of the overall context so you know how to speak to them in a way that captures their attention and respects their time.

Example: “Our target market of middle-aged female investors with a net worth of over one million dollars is busy. They don’t have a lot of time for video. But they do “indulge” a few minutes of their time with a magazine subscription (so we might want to do a print ad instead). Also going on in their life: They have teenage children who still require a lot of their time (i.e. family management, dinner preparation, driving them to sports, etc.), plus these women are working full-time. However, they are starting to realize that their children may be leaving the house for college in the next few years and this target market is coming to grips with the combination of emotions and changing implications that this will create… not the least of which is more time and potentially more money to spend on themselves.

Connect

Connect the ad to your sales funnel. Figure out how the target market is thinking and feeling (based on their context, above) when they see your marketing content. Then, figure out how you want your target market to act once they’ve seen your content. Do you want them to pick up the phone and call you? Do you want them to visit a website? Do you want them to send away for more information? You are connecting your marketing into your sales funnel to make sure that it fits.

Example: “Our target market wants information and wants to feel empowered to make their own decisions — they don’t want to be ‘sold’. Since they are increasingly connected and confident online, we’ll use an ad in the magazine to attract and inform this brand new market and we’ll drive them to a special benefits-oriented website that we’ll need to set up to provide them with additional information and to capture their email address.

Collect

Gather together everything you need to make the content happen. Most important, you’ll want to gather the biggest list of features and benefits you possibly can. You might need to gather other items, too. Some examples including:

  • Potential stock photography (for image-rich content)
  • Potential keywords you want to use (for online content)
  • Equipment and storyboards (for video or audio marketing).
  • Ensure that any other details further down the sales funnel are also gathered. For example, what’s the correct spelling of the website or the correct phone number that you want them to call? (Don’t make the mistake that one insurance company made when they accidentally gave out MY phone number for one of their promotions — I was inundated with phone calls asking for quotes on their insurance coverage!).
  • Parameters of the content (such as preferred word-count or preferred format for publication)

Copywrite

Now it’s time to write the copy. You’re not creating the marketing piece just yet (that comes next) but you’re putting together the basic ideas. You’re doing some early-stage copywriting — expressing the benefits in a compelling way. Using a pen and paper or whiteboard, turn your list of features and benefits into attractive, compelling headlines and bullet points. Take one benefit and write down two or three headlines and three or four bullet points from it. Then try combining a few benefits and do the same thing. Brainstorm a bunch of ideas and write them all down, don’t worry about a theme or overlapping some benefits between headlines. The more you have, the better.

Create

Finally! You’re ready to create your ad. You’ve thoughtfully considered who you are targeting, where you are targeting them, what is important to them, and what you want them to do. You have some great copywritten headlines and bullet points. Now it’ just a matter of assembling them together into a form that you can use in whatever media you’ve chosen to market it.

In general, you’ll want to start with a strong statement or headline, follow up with some bullet points, and then finish with a clear action you want them to take.

Content implementation

Here’s the easy part: Once you’ve created your content (above) just publish it and you’re done! Put that content into action and reap the results.

Most businesses stop there but smart businesses do one more thing…

Capitalize

Capitalize on your investment of time, effort, and money and make your marketing even more worthwhile: Measure the results and consider repeating the marketing effort as-is or with some modifications. There are other ways to capitalize on your marketing, too: You can often take the content you have and tear it apart and rebuild it — perhaps to create new marketing or even to turn it into its own products and services. (I did this once for SAP: They had a marketing video that wasn’t working for them so, with some help, I tore it apart and rebuilt it into three separate videos for different target audiences, with much better results).

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