“What in the world am I going to write about?”

Have you ever found yourself repeating this question over and over and over again?

If you’ve been responsible for a blog, newsletter, Facebook page or Twitter account, there’s a good chance you have. Don’t worry. You’re not alone.

Picking topics is tough work! Even more difficult is selecting the right content for your business. But the good news is, it’s not impossible. With some strategic planning, you’ll never be at a loss for what to share.

What do we mean when we say strategic planning? We’re talking a brainstorming extravaganza. We’re talking a goal defining and customer-identifying event. This is hardcore content mapping that prepares you for long-term success. So, take a deep breath. Let’s get down to business.

What is Content Mapping?

In many respects, content mapping has become a buzz term, an idea casually thrown around. You’ll often hear it used interchangeably with content map. But strictly speaking, content maps and content mapping are different.

In their simplest form, content maps are a way to visualize how your web content should be organized. Like a flow chart, they allow your thoughts to crisscross and build upon one another.

Content mapping is the process of analyzing the best ways to nurture leads through content. It’s a three-part planning process that lays the groundwork for targeting your customers.

The 3 Steps of Content Mapping

1 – Define Your Goals If you haven’t defined your business goals, do so. Schedule the time right now. Give yourself a healthy sized block to determine what is it you want to achieve this year, in five years and in 10 years? These overall business goals should be the foundation for every business decision you make. We’re going to assume you’ve done this already.

Chances are pretty good you want your business to grow. (If not, skip this post and keep plugging away as you have been.) Growing requires fostering current relationships and building new ones. Used correctly, content can do everything from help you attract new prospects and nurture leads to re-engage customers and encourage word of mouth marketing.

In terms of content mapping, you also want to set clear goals that are in line with your business goals.

What is it you want to achieve with your content? Be as specific as possible. You might want to:

  • Grow your newsletter list
  • Increase your Twitter engagement
  • Collect testimonials

2 – Define Your Target Audience or Audiences Who are you trying to reach? While some businesses will have one specific group, in most cases you’ll have more than one target audience. This is a great thing. In today’s social media driven world, people want to be spoken with – not talked to.

The more specific you can make your target audiences, the easier it is to create content for them. At a bare minimum, you’ll want to define their:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Gender
  • Income Level
  • Education Level
  • Marital Status
  • Family (kids)
  • Occupation

But, the more information the better. You might also be able to define their:

  • Ethnicity
  • Interests/Hobbies
  • Dislikes
  • Political Affiliations
  • Personality Traits
  • Values
  • Lifestyles

3 – Identify What Your Target Audience(s) Finds Valuable Value is always relative to the individual. While some target audiences find coupons to be valuable others find helpful tips, insider details or even fun images. Do you know what each of your target audiences finds valuable? If not, ask them what things you’re sharing that they like and what kinds of things they’d like to see more of.

Check back soon. We’re going discuss how put all your hard content mapping work into action.