If you’ve ever wondered how it’s possible to create an entire content calendar at once, the secret lies within a key part of the planning process: developing content themes. Content themes help you plan ahead and provide the structure needed to stay focused on content that will deliver meaningful results.
Creating content themes allow you to create an even mix of content that satisfies different audiences while remaining true to your business goals. Using content themes paired with an editorial calendar will help you make sure you’re not creating too much of any one kind of content.
When you have a roughly outlined idea of what content you’re going to create or none at all, it’s easy to unknowingly create only one kind of content or to slant toward a specific kind of content. Without planning and structure, you could be subconsciously gravitating toward content targeting only one persona, one piece of the buyer journey, one topic, etc. You could be creating content based on your own interests or what you already know without even realizing it. A content marketing strategy should provide structure for all of your content. Relying on ad-hoc content creation does a disservice to your audience and your brand.
With content themes, you can get the big picture idea of what kind of content your brand will and will not create. This should be done in alignment with your brand platform. Knowing when to say no is important for content creation. Every piece of content is a reflection of your brand and serves as a brand touch point.
Once you have developed personas, choose three to six content themes to guide your content creation. The best way to do this is to determine content themes based on personas and an analysis of what drives user intent. User intent could be looking at what motivates people to purchase your product/service (if sales is your goal), or it could be something else. Whatever your goal is, look at what drives people to take that action.
Here are a few examples of the way this thinking process works:
- People who have an upcoming trip need the right kind of luggage —> Trip Planning
- People who workout at work need a versatile gym bag —> Office Workouts
- People who are going to propose will need a ring —> Marriage Proposals
- People who want a fresh smell to reinforce that something’s been cleaned —> Cleaning Hacks
In each of these examples, we started with a scenario that motivates the user to purchase a particular type of product or service. Then, we stepped back and said, “What types of information would be useful to this person?”, “What is this person’s goal?” and, “What kind of information is needed to achieve this goal?”
You can brainstorm what drives user intent for each of your personas. Think about different stages of the buyer journey and what might motivate a person either to buy or consider buying. You may want to think about the part of the buying process in which someone is forming their decision set and aim to make your brand part of the decision set first.
Next, you may try to find commonalities – do any of the motivations to take action share the same triggers across multiple personas? Look for patterns. Finding an intersection of similar motivations for different personas means you can create one type of content that satisfies the needs of more than one persona.
Make sure you’re not going too granular – for something to deserve the status of a content theme, you should be able to easily think of 10 or more pieces of content you can create for it off the top of your head. You should also be confident you can build out more ideas over time. The goal is to have a content theme you can sustain over several months to a year.
Once you have a list of possible content themes, evaluate them to make sure they are in alignment with:
After finding your content themes, the next step is using these themes to build out an editorial calendar.