Behind the Scenes of a Blog Content Strategy Session

blog content strategy session ochre and beige jaquilyn edwards strategic marketing for interior designers firm

Does this sound familiar? You present your client with a furniture layout that you spent hours on, and they say, “Well, what if we put the sofa over there, instead?” Having already considered that option, you explain to your client why it won’t work.

“Well, what about over here?” You tried that configuration, too, and there was a reason it wasn’t ideal either.

After much back and forth, your client realizes that you have, in fact, already come up with the best furniture plan for their home, needs, furnishings, and desired lifestyle. They are thrilled with the design (even if it took them some time to get there).

“The truth is, most of your clients don’t know what you are doing behind the scenes.”

While some clients will simply trust you or fall in love with the design, others won’t realize that you have already thought the whole thing through.

This is something your blog can help you with.

In fact, I advised a client just last week to write a blog post on all the things she does that her clients don’t know she’s doing behind the scenes. And as I gave her this advice, I realized — I should be doing the exact same thing.

You probably don’t know what happens during a Content Strategy Session. Or how we work with our ghost blogging clients to take time and stress off their plates. Or the results our clients see in their SEO, website traffic, and new projects. But hey — one thing at a time, right?

So today, I want to share just one part of what we do for our clients: the Content Strategy Session.

What is a Content Strategy Session?

It seems that everyone and their mother is blogging these days, but the difference between a blog that attracts new clients and one that simply generates “likes” is this: strategy.

“The difference between a blog that attracts your dream clients and one that simply generates ‘likes’ is strategy.”

I am a firm believer that fluffy, low-value posts are not going to move the needle for your business. And frankly, if you’re investing time and/or money in your blog, you probably want some assurance that it’s going to eventually give you time and money back.

THAT is why a Content Strategy Session is essential. Because the voice, information, and value you share with the world is not one-size-fits-all — it’s unique to you and your ideal clients.

(You wouldn’t design a home without a plan, would you? Marketing with a plan is just as important!)

A Content Strategy Session is a virtual meeting where we wrap your ideal clients, brand, and goals into a content strategy (including blog posts, lead magnets, SEO keywords, and brand messaging) designed to help move your business forward.

O&B offers Content Strategy Sessions…

  1. As a standalone service for those who want to write their own blog posts but don’t know what to blog about to attract their ideal clients.

  2. As the first step of our Custom Ghost Blogging service, to serve as the content roadmap (or “Editorial Calendar” in marketing speak) that leads us toward authentic posts that serve your clients and your goals.

Here’s how they work…

Step 1: Discover Your Ideal Clients, Brand & Goals

Before you can design a space, you have to know what your clients want from the home, right? Well, before we can create a content strategy for you, we have to know what you want to get out of the experience, too!

I will never assume that your business goals, ideal clients, and voice are the same as the designer I spoke with last week, and I know for a fact that YOU are unique. Maybe you’re excited about launching an online store in 6 months or landing more full-service projects or selling decorating courses. Or all of the above.

The point is, Step 1 is about us getting to know you and what you want. Here’s how we do that:

  • An initial 20-minute phone call to chat about what you’re looking for & make sure we’re a good fit for each other. Yes, I believe that we should like each other if we’re going to work together!

  • A questionnaire that will help you tell us more about your ideal client, location, brand, business goals, favorite beverages, special people, etc.

Step 2: Background Research & Content Ideas

Much like interior design, the process of creating a content strategy requires some background research and ideation before presenting our concept to you and getting your feedback.

For a content strategy session, this means…

I. Understanding your ideal client

Your dream client is more than a list of superficial characteristics, like buying habits, income, and family size. They have real desires and real needs, on an external level, internal level, and philosophical level.

For example, one of our latest clients (let’s call her Jenn) loves to design whole homes for new homeowners. As I read through Jenn’s questionnaire, I could see that her ideal clients would likely be experiencing the range of emotions that come with investing in a new place:

  • Overwhelm with all the decisions that would need to be made about things outside their area of expertise (like window treatments, paint colors, updates, etc.)

  • Excitement to work with a blank canvas and make their home their own

  • Willingness to invest in quality that will last

  • The desire to create a space that nurtures family memories and connection

  • Etc.

Once I know your dream clients’ unique struggles, I can ideate blog post topics that address those struggles, that offer valuable information, that naturally show your expertise, and that build a positive, trusting relationship between you and your audience.

THAT is strategic and relational blogging.

II. Addressing your business goals

The second most important step of preparing an intentional Content Strategy is addressing your business goals. “How to Design a Kitchen” may be trending, but if you have no desire to design kitchens, then blogging about it isn’t going to help your business. (Waste not!)

If, however, I know that you would like to launch an online store in 6 months, you better believe that I’m going to suggest blog post topics that get your audience excited about your aesthetic and accustomed to seeing you share products… months in advance. See what I mean?

So in this step, I look at the business goals you shared and your ideal client, and I ask myself — what topics will help transition your audience from Point A to Point B? What topics will make you look like the expert we know you are, in order to serve new clients with your products or services?

And your list of potential blog post topics grows…

III. Structuring categories & content ideas

Our last step before meeting with Jenn for the Content Strategy Session was to take all of our ideas from above, slot them into blog post categories, and add any additional topics that may have popped into mind in the process (like holiday-related or seasonal posts).

For most designers, though the exact naming may change, I suggest 4 main categories:

  • Projects (your reveals or Before & Afters)

  • Behind the Scenes (insight into the design industry)

  • How Tos (actionable advice that readers can take on their own and show your expertise)

  • Style Watch (could include trends, roundups, inspiration, etc.)

Once we had all of this prepared into our Content Strategy Presentation, we were ready to start our Content Strategy Session with Jenn.

Step 3: Collaborative Content Strategy Session

At the start of our Content Strategy Session (which usually runs about 1-2 hours), we quickly covered all of the information Jenn had already provided to us about her business and ideal clients. I asked her to elaborate on any areas that I felt needed a bit more clarity and made sure we were on the same page.

If our client doesn’t have a lead magnet (Jenn’s was spectacular already!), I’ll share some topic suggestions and cover some general best practices for integrating blog posts, lead magnets, newsletters, and social media promotion.

If O&B will be writing your blog posts, we’ll also talk about your voice — the one you currently use on your website and in marketing content, or the one you want to have going forward.

Then we dive into blog content…

Presentation & Feedback

We then proceeded through the Content Strategy Presentation, looking at all the areas I had already addressed behind-the-scenes in Step 2. This included talking with Jenn about:

  • Her ideal clients’ experience, emotions, and needs

  • Sharing suggested blog post categories

  • Reading through topic ideas by category

  • I even gave her some tips for refreshing years-old blog posts and publishing them as new (why not save some time??)

Now, it’s important to note that these Content Strategy Sessions are not one-sided conversations. I see this time together as a creative and collaborative process. I might have what I think is a fabulous content idea, but if you don’t feel passionate about it, we shouldn’t write about it. It should feel authentic to YOU.

So as we went through the Content Strategy Presentation together, Jenn and I talked about the ideas, whether they resonated with her ideal clients, and whether she liked them enough to write about them.

By the end, we had a solid list of ideas that were relevant to her clients, good for SEO, and aimed at furthering her business goals!

Scheduling for context

The final step in creating an intentional and effective content strategy is to publish your topics with the most appropriate and opportune timing.

For example, if we know that peak home buying season for Jenn’s ideal clients is typically in the spring, we should be sharing blog posts related to that topic at least a month in advance and throughout this season. Yes, 2020 was an odd year for home-buying, so our actual strategy was different in this case — but you get the point. 😉

The same goes for holidays and seasons. This type of content should be released at least a month or two in advance, so you’re not late to the party — you want to be the one throwing the doors open and inviting everyone in!

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Step 4: Finalizing the Blog Content Calendar

Step 4 is finalizing the Blog Content Calendar, and it’s the one step that can differ from client to client. Some of our clients know exactly which topics they love most and want us to write about and we create their calendar on the spot.

Others need some time to let the topics simmer, pick their favorites, and pencil them into the calendar. I completely understand, as I am definitely the creative who needs to simmer (on low-heat for at least 30 minutes).

So, what happens next?

In the case that you want to finalize the Content Calendar during our Strategy Session, we’ll organize your favorite posts into the calendar. We do this in a time-conscious manner, balancing light topics and any heavier ones and making sure there’s variation in the categories each topic falls under. (No one wants an empty category!)

For those who need time to let the ideas simmer, I like to give you at least a week to mark the topics you like the most. You can either add these topics into the Content Calendar yourself, or I’ll go through the ones you’ve marked as favorites and make suggestions on timing.

Either way, we’ll enjoy a little creative back-and-forth, and then we finalize it!

Step 5: Taking Action

There are SO many advantages of having a Blog Content Calendar, especially one that is intentional and personal to your dream clients and business. It…

  • Saves you time having to think up a topic each time you sit down to write a post

  • Sets the foundation for all your marketing efforts (no more wondering what to share on social media)

  • Lets you batch-work several posts (and schedule social media) in advance or outsource appropriately

  • Gives you the peace of mind that your marketing efforts actually do support your goals and will attract the right clients

But don’t just take it from me…

“What I love is how you have taken what I am all about and created a unique path for what I wanted to realize but wasn’t sure how. To me it’s not only content for a terrific blog but also gives me Instagram and Facebook direction for each month. I’ve started Facebook Lives and can see how this can tie in easily for added content!

Thank you so much. This has been HUGELY worthwhile.”

— A.S., Interior Designer, Australia

In other words, the advantage of a Blog Content Calendar is the ability to take confident action on strategically marketing your business — and attracting the clients you truly love!

Even if you’re creating a Blog Content Calendar on your own, having one is an essential part of an intentional, relational content marketing strategy… and you’ll love the mental freedom that comes with it.

So if you’re ready to get a Blog Content Strategy for your growing business, I’d love to invite you to contact me here.

If you’re not quite ready yet and want to try creating a strategy on your own, don’t worry, I’ve got your back too. You can download our Content Strategy Workbook here!

To your freedom in business & life…

Xoxo,

Jaquilyn

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