We all talk a lot about content, how you need it, how it should be meaningful, how it should be all that and a bag of chips. But how do you know if all this stuff you’re thinking up is really going to draw in the people you want to reach?
If you were like me until recently, you’d stare down a list of blog post ideas and think “maybe I’ll talk about this, that’s timely” or “this is cool, I’ll drop it into the newsletter.” I just had disembodied bits of information relating to my areas of expertise floating around without a cohesive why I should be talking about them. This is like building a house and starting with the windows. And, it turns out, this approach gave me a bad case of blog block — I needed a bigger content picture.
The Sticky Content Blueprint
A content blueprint keeps you sending a clear, strong signal out to prospective clients and customers about who you are and what you do. We’re so inundated with media and content of all kinds, the stronger your voice and the more consistent your message, the more likely your right people will hear it and come looking for more.
There are three ingredients in the Sticky Content Blueprint
- The Persona
- The Essential Goals
- The Key Needs
Think of your favorite magazine. I’ll bet that if you really like a magazine, 85% or more of the content seems right on target for you — your needs, your tastes, your personality. Even down to your sense of humor, it seems the editors of that magazine just get you. You, and all the other “yous” out there.
I know from a decade working in magazine publishing and pitching stories to them that every page of a magazine is painstakingly curated to feature only stories, products and information of interest to a specific type of reader.
Even though you don’t have the market research resources of a major magazine, I’m going to bet you have a basic idea of who it is you serve with your amazing talents. Maybe this person is an amalgam of all your best clients, or if you’re just starting out, a sketch of someone you think you’d like to work with. (If you’re not sure, do this fabulous client avatar exercise from Pam Slim.)
The trick here is getting really tuned in to who you’re working with, their personality. In fact, imagining which magazines your client persona would read can be a great start. It’s not enough to say I work with women who want to lose weight, you need to think in terms of new age-y, middle-aged women who are into alternative health or high-powered career women in their early forties with two kids and an Audi. Even a rough emotional impression of their personality is fine, this will still work.
Got a picture in your mind of this person? Good. Let’s move on to their Essential Goals.
Your client persona has certain goals — either personal or professional — that are directly tied to your areas of expertise. For the purpose of the blueprint, you just want to identify 3 to 5 really big, overarching goals. While you thought in very specific terms for your persona, think in universal terms for these goals.
Let’s say I’m a life coach and I work with married women in their forties who are juggling career and children in the suburbs. The list of my persona’s goals might include:
- Achieving work/life balance
- Deepening family relationships
- Finding meaning and satisfaction at work
- Maintaining/improving physical health
- Connecting with friends, social life
Now I can take my list of umpteen topics I could write about on my blog, in my newsletter, or even a product idea and see if it fits underneath one of these umbrella goals. If they do, there’s a good chance that they represent a Key Need.
You are a needs-meeting machine for your target audience. Sometimes that need is information, sometimes it’s encouragement, sometimes it’s a shift in perspective. Just about every bit of content or product you put out there should be a stepping stone on the way to their goal.
Let’s say you want to help mixed-media artists make a living from their artwork and build their career. Their big, oversimplified goals are: building a reputation, selling work, maybe getting grants. The key needs you can help with are: contacting galleries, entering contests, blogging, creating an online portfolio, et cetera.
Key Needs = Sticky Content
I now have a folder for each of my client persona’s Essential Goals, and any time I think of something relevant that could help them reach that goal, I file it away. It helps organize the ideas I have and helps me generate new ones that are relevant.
- Flesh out your client persona.
- Understand their big essential goals.
- Create content out of the key needs they have in order to reach those goals.
I hope that using this model will help make your content creation process easier and more effective.
Extra Credit: What Essential Goal am I helping people reach if a content blueprint is a Key Need?