13 Simple Questions to Help You Draft a Winning Content Strategy [Free Worksheet]

Welcome to the year of adaptive content. The choose-your-own-adventure era of content marketing. The age of the customized customer experience.
We’ve already tipped our hand by publishing two podcasts on the topic: Adaptive Content: A Trend to Pay Attention to in 2015 and Behind the Scenes: 2014 in Review and the Road Ahead.
And 16 Stats That Explain Why Adaptive Content Matters Right Now is a foundational blog post that briefs you on the subject.
At this point, it’s only natural that we jump right in to the heart of adaptive content.
But after reading two dozen articles and at least one white paper, flipping through two SlideShare presentations, listening to a few podcasts, and reading four books, I realized if I want to prepare you to implement adaptive content, we have to go back to the beginning …
And start with content strategy.
Can you really trust your content strategy?
Content strategy needs to be precise. See, before you even put pen to paper, you need to know the direction you are heading.
Most of us who work online, from freelance writers to small business owners, probably have a content strategy. But there’s just one problem: it’s up in our heads.
But if you say, “My business is not that complicated, and neither is my content strategy. I know where I want to take this business. I don’t need to commit it to paper,” then this stat should make you take pause:
Only 39 percent of B2B small business marketers have a documented

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Sally Hogshead on How You Can Unlock Your Natural Ability to Fascinate

You have a natural ability to fascinate others that you may or may not be taking full advantage of.
And getting in touch with this “fascination advantage” can pay big dividends, both in business and in your personal relationships.
Sally Hogshead is a copywriter-turned-Catalyst who teaches you how to tap into your natural ability to fascinate by giving you a better understanding of how the world sees you at your best.
Those of you who are going to Authority Rainmaker this May will get to experience Sally’s passion, energy, and innovative ideas live and in person. She is one of the keynote speakers.
And in today’s episode of The Lede, we bring you a little taste of what that will be like. (Plus a special offer to take Sally’s Fascination Advantage for free so that you can find out what your archetype is.)

In this episode, Sally Hogshead and I discuss:

How Sally went from copywriter to Catalyst.
The critical difference between being merely interesting and being fascinating.
The archenemies: distraction, competition, and commoditization (and why they damage your marketing).
What the results of the Fascination Advantage assessment really tell us about ourselves.
The importance of having an Anthem and how you construct one.
How Sally applies her own ideas at home, as a parent.

Oh, and I hope you like the new music.
Listen to The Lede …
To listen, you can either hit the flash audio player below, or browse the links to find your preferred format …

Click here to download the mp3 |

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The New Authenticity and Authority: What it Looks Like, How to Use It

Jon Stewart’s retirement from The Daily Show this week, accompanied by many tears and some cheers, is getting a lot of coverage around the web.
First, because the show is insanely popular.
But more than that, because the show demonstrates a real shift in what authority and authenticity look like in the 21st century.
In 2007, Stewart came in fourth in a poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press as an admired journalist. (He tied, interestingly enough, with Brian Williams.)
The Daily Show is a very different creature from the news parodies that came before it. Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update might make you laugh (some years), but no sane person relies on it for an analysis of what actually matters in the news. By contrast, in 2008, The New York Times asked if Jon Stewart might not be The Most Trusted Man in America.
You may not like Jon Stewart, which is fine by me. Because whether or not you care for his view of the world, he has a lot to teach you about how to present yourself to your audience.
Authenticity and authority: 21st century style
One anchor. Five correspondents. Zero credibility. ~ an early Daily Show tag line
Jon Stewart is a writer and standup comedian, and never made any pretense of being a credible source for the news. His primary purpose was to entertain and engage. He didn’t start The Daily Show, but it did seem to pick up some

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How to Learn from Your Successes

We all know about the importance of learning from mistakes. “Fail forward,” as they say.
But we shouldn’t just look at our successes as magical moments when everything went right and think these experiences do not hold significant lessons of their own.
In the last episode of The Lede, Demian and I discussed mistakes that have taught us valuable lessons. In this week’s episode, we flip the script and talk about successful moments that taught us just as much.
In this episode, we discuss:

The value of understanding how you accomplished an achievement.
Recognizing and honoring the co-creators of your successes.
Why passion and enthusiasm often accompany success.
The smart way to think about attention.
Overcoming imposter syndrome and trusting yourself.
Celebrating your successes, but knowing when to move on.

Listen to The Lede …
To listen, you can either hit the flash audio player below, or browse the links to find your preferred format …

Click here to download the mp3 | 44.5 MB | 30:40
Click here to subscribe via iTunes
Click here to listen via Stitcher
Click here for the RSS feed (non iTunes)
Click here for the show archive

React to The Lede …
As always, we appreciate your reaction to episodes of The Lede and feedback about how we’re doing.
Send us a tweet with your thoughts anytime: @JerodMorris and @DemianFarnworth.
And please tell us the most important point you took away from this episode. Do so by joining the discussion over on LinkedIn.
The Show Notes

Authority Rainmaker — Copyblogger’s second in-person, live conference, May 13–15 in Denver, Colorado that

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How to Create a Deep Connection with Your Prospects and Customers

When my son was about two and a half, he developed a funny habit of walking around the house from time to time, chiming out, “I’m here.”
Although this little boy was strongly connected to his family and his small class of school friends, he still had that need to express it.
I’m here. I exist. I want to be seen, and heard. I want to be recognized.
And as human beings, we never quite lose that. We might get a little more sophisticated about how we say it, but ultimately we all want to let the world know:
I’m here.
If you intend to sell something — to ask for someone’s hard-earned money and irreplaceable time — you must begin by seeing (and honoring) who they are.
You need to know them as well as you know yourself, as well as you know your family and closest friends.
As usual, Eugene Schwartz said it best
At Copyblogger, we’ve long been big fans of Eugene Schwartz and his chewy, profound book Breakthrough Advertising.
Schwartz was a master at learning to see his prospect, and then to express that recognition with clarity. He identified three components of that understanding:
Desires … Identifications … Beliefs. Each of them composed of equal parts of emotion and thought. The three dimensions of your prospect’s mind — the raw materials with which you will work.
First … desire
When we are toddlers, what we want makes up an enormous part of who we are.
But, of course, that doesn’t

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7 Steps That Will Hook Readers On Your Content through the Magnetic Force of Fascination

Throughout your journey to overcome online obscurity, you produce a lot of content.
Content marketing is about making a connection with your audience and building relationships. Since you invest time and effort into your writing, you want to see tangible results.
But what if your posts aren’t getting the engagement you need to take your digital media platform to the next level? How do you create content that deepens your connection with your audience?
The answer may lie in the specific reason why we absorb certain information, while overlooking other content.
Emotions trump intellect when we make decisions
Emotions almost completely dominate our decisions and experiences. For instance, when we run into trouble or experience a strong emotion like fear, we tend to obsess over it. We can become irrational.
Suddenly, our fear overshadows and prevents logical thought processes. When the problem is relieved, we’re free from the constraints of our emotions. We’re more open, agreeable, and compliant. We’re able to think rationally again.
Everything starts with emotion. Memories affect our thoughts and opinions; feelings affect our moods and behaviors. The human limbic system is the gatekeeper for all higher thought processing and evaluation.
In order to build relationships with your audience, you have to first connect with readers on an emotional level.
Because when emotion is missing, we’re not really engaged.
If readers aren’t interested and engaged, they’re unlikely to keep reading. And even if they do read your content, they’re less likely to digest it; it’s less likely to make

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Do Lower Prices Lead to More Sales?

Let’s say you’re choosing between three photography courses covering similar topics.
The prices are stacked like this:


What’s going through your mind right now?
Curiosity floods your brain. Even if you’re not sure you can afford the $2,000 course, you want to know why it’s so expensive, compared to the other photography courses.
If we were truly happy with lower prices, we would simply snap up the $200 workshop, right? We wouldn’t so much as take a glance at the rest.
But that’s not how we’re built as human beings.
Many years ago, when I consulted with a company that sold beds in a store, we’d take customers around the store. We’d show them beds that cost $1,500, $2,000, and $4,000. And then we’d ask them if they were curious about the bed that cost $4,000.
You bet they were. You would be, and so would I — we’d all be curious about the features and benefits that caused an increase of 100 percent (or more) in the price. 
Price decisions are made in a vacuum or by comparison
Lower prices, alone, don’t produce more sales. We’re clear on that idea, aren’t we?
And that’s because clients make price decisions either in a vacuum or by comparison.
To start, let’s look at making price decisions in a vacuum.
Say you decide to buy a bottle of Ardbeg (yup, it’s a really nice, single-malt whisky). But wait — the price of a single bottle of 2009 Ardbeg Supernova is $550.
You aren’t asking why at this

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Why Creating Your First Blockbuster Online Product Is Easier Than You Think

Imagine you’ve just launched your first product.
It’s a short little course, just a few weeks long, that teaches the “DIY” version of the topics you help people with every day. You built it once, delivered it online, and now it works for you while you’re off doing other activities you love.
This online course has been a transformative force in your life.
You’ve found financial freedom, because you’re no longer constrained by the economics of trading time for money. And you’ve multiplied your impact, making the world a better place for dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of people.
It’s a pretty picture, isn’t it?
But you and I both know it isn’t so easy to achieve.
In reality, most people with big dreams of product creation end up spending months, or even years, investing time and money that they can’t afford to lose into a project that will probably never see the light of day.
It’s a sad reality, but the good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way.
Let your audience direct your product development …
What the creators of most blockbuster products have figured out is how to completely avoid that situation by allowing their audiences to guide product development.
This is one of the areas where Copyblogger has always excelled. They first discussed the concept of a minimum viable audience back in 2012:
Build an audience through content marketing. Let them tell you what they want. Build products and offer services based on their desires and needs. Prosper.

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