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EPISODE 71: How to Create a Strong Nurture Content Strategy

by Feb 1, 2022Brand Your Voice, Podcast

In this episode we will cover:

  • What is nurture content?
  • Why does nurture content matter to both clients & writers?
  • How do you shift your mindset from writer to writer & strategist?
  • The keys to a strong nurture content strategy {for both you & your client}

On this podcast, we highly encourage writers to shift their mindset from being a “hired gun” to being an invaluable strategist. Yes, that requires you to actually advise on your client’s content strategy! 

If you haven’t offered strategic content support before, you might feel intimidated by it. Or, you might not know how to make that shift with your current client. But becoming both a writer and a strategist has several benefits—an important one being the ability to charge a higher fee. As a strategist, you also have more control over the content you’re creating. When you see gaps, you’re able to provide feedback and give suggestions. 

To advise on strategy, it’s important to first understand the different types and purposes of content. There are two main types of content: nurture and sales. Nurture content does not actively try to make a sale. Rather, nurture content is intended to build trust. 

If your client runs a service-based business, it’s likely they have to maintain an ongoing relationship with their customers. Nurture content allows you to build a bridge between your client and their audience. It’s an opportunity to connect, empathize, and provide ongoing value. 

 

Here’s a few keys to creating a strong nurture content strategy:

  • Use concise, clear, and relatable content. The best nurture content leverages storytelling to provide readers with examples of success, and help gain the audience’s trust.
  • Keep a pulse on the audience’s needs. It’s important to know what the audience is engaging with in order to inform your strategy recommendations. Reference data from your client’s website, social media, or emails to learn more about the audience’s interests and challenges.
  • Ask a bunch of questions. What’s the size of their email list? How many people read their blog posts? Be sure to clarify boundaries—having access to this data doesn’t necessarily mean you’re volunteering to start loading content into their email system.
  • Follow the STEADY formula. Nurture content should be:
    • Strategic: aligns with your client’s content pillars.
    • Targeted: you know WHO your content is talking to, and where they are in their journey.
    • Educational/Empathetic: the content either teaches something OR acknowledges something.
    • Actionable: What can your audience member DO after consuming the content?
    • Digestible: Is it easy to read and understand?
    • Your Own (voice/values/etc.): Does the content reflect the brand’s voice, values, and personality?

 

Of course, one strategy doesn’t fit all. But with the right nurture content strategy, you can easily connect with new leads, convert them into paying clients {or referrals}, and keep them around for the long haul. 

Remember, half the battle of shifting from writer to writer and strategist is your mindset. If you’re qualified, you’re qualified! Also keep in mind that as a writer, you’re also a business owner, and you need your own nurture content, too! You can use these tips to develop a nurture content strategy for your writing business.

 

Homework: 

  • Take one piece of nurture content and apply the STEADY acronym to it.

 

Services/Products/Offers/Freebies Referenced (for affiliate links or list growth):

Profit First by Mike Michalowicz

TRANSCRIPT

Jessi:
Welcome to the Brand Your Voice Podcast, where we’re digging into how you can create personality-driven content that connects and converts. I’m Jessi…

Marie:
…and I’m Marie. We’re the co-founders of North Star Messaging + Strategy, where we support business owners in outsourcing content without sacrificing authenticity.

Jessi:
Every brand has a unique voice that sets it apart. We're digging into how to capture the way your brand communicates from the words you use to the stories you tell. So you can create more compelling content that strategically helps you meet your business goals.

Marie:
And if you choose to outsource that content, you'll be able to do so with confidence, knowing your brand voice is in good hands and you can reclaim your time. We're so glad you're here and hope you enjoy this episode.

Marie:
Hey, Hey, it's Marie here with Jessi. How's it going, Jessi?

Jessi:
Pretty good. Pretty good. I'm excited to talk about today's topic.

Marie:
Me too. And, I think this episode and the next one are gonna be fun because we'll give you some actionable steps that you can take, but also we're gonna be talking a little bit about the mindset behind it, which is something that a few years ago, I would've been like, oh my goodness, spare me from talking about mindset stuff. But now I really understand why it's important. We're not gonna get woo in this. We're just gonna talk about confidence. So, this episode is all about how to create a strong content strategy when it comes to nurturing content. And I guess probably we should start with high level definition of what that is. And there's sort of, in my opinion, two extremely broad categories of content: nurture content and sales content. There is some overlap and they lead into each other, but today we're gonna focus on nurture content, meaning content that isn't actively trying to make a sale.

Jessi:
Yeah. And sometimes you'll see, you'll hear us interchange sales content with conversion content. And we will spend an entire episode talking all about that. But before we do, we wanted to really dive into nurture content because often before someone buys from you, they need to feel like they trust you. Not always. There are some business models that go straight into conversion content and are very successful. And I wanna leave room for that as a viable business model. However, when you run a service based business, particularly, and one that may require an ongoing relationship with the person who's buying and the person who's selling, it's helpful to actually feel like you trust that person. And so we're gonna talk about this from a couple of different angles. We're going to talk about it from the perspective of you as a writer who is writing for your client, who needs to have content that is helping them nurture their audience, because the content that you create for your client, you want it to help their business. You want it to help their business grow. And even if you're not writing that conversion copy or that sales content, you want to make sure that even the nurture content that you're creating, even the content that's designed to build relationships is also moving them along the right path.
We're also gonna talk about it from the perspective of you and your own business, because we don't want you in listening to this to forget about the fact that you are also a business owner. You also need nurture content for your own business and all too frequently, especially as a writer, it becomes easy to prioritize your client's content needs over your own content needs. So we're not gonna leave your own content needs out of this conversation. We're gonna make sure that we're talking about that as well, and the same principles are going to apply across the board.

Marie:
Yeah, absolutely. And when I was talking about mindset, what I'm talking about is a lot of writers, us included, especially in our early days, sort of initially we're hired to kind of be the, like the implementer, the hired gun, the person who receive some assignment and then goes and writes. But if we're going to be recommending content strategies to our clients, that means that we need to make a shift in our messaging to being a strategist, not only the writer, but also a content strategist. So, this is something that can be scary. I remember being at a, like I was a guest speaker at a retreat a few years ago, and we were talking about the word strategy and it was a group of like kind of newer entrepreneurs and they were all like, Ooh, I can't do that, that sounds scary. And so that may be kind of, what's coming up for you too. So we, I just wanna leave space in the conversation for that today.

Jessi:
Yeah. And I also wanna hearken back to a previous episode that we recorded, where it's worth acknowledging that not all writers out there are going to want to be strategists too. That is okay, and that is viable. You just need to be clear about what you're offering. If you are offering strategy, it comes with some benefits. First of all, you can charge more because you are offering an additional service. You also have a little bit more control over the direction of the content that you're creating. When you see gaps in the content, when you see opportunities for improvement for your clients, you will have the permission, you've given the permission to yourself in setting yourself up as a strategist, to provide that feedback and make suggestions. On the other hand, if you just want to be an implementer, that's fine too. Your business structure may be a little different. However, you still need to know how to create strategic nurture content for your own business. And so this is a skill that you can use, regardless of which side of the coin you fall on for your clients. It's really important to have that nurture content in place to understand how it works for your business, and to know which nurture content strategy works best for you.

Marie:
For sure. Because, you know, strategy comes with responsibility and a little bit of the like, Hey, if this falls on its face, like part of that may be up to me, right. But like being able to handle that, you know, even if it's just for your own business is part of the game.
So let's talk about nurture content on the high level, what it's for why it's important. So we often talk about a bridge as a metaphor of a bridge between yourself or your client, the business owner, essentially, or the brand. And then on the other side of the bridge is the audience that you're trying to connect with. So nurture content is an opportunity to build trust. It's an opportunity to connect with them. It's an opportunity to empathize with them, to make them feel heard, to provide value to them, sell to them, no, sorry, not to sell to them, backing up. To provide instruction to them, to give freely, and it's not to give freely so that I can then sell because Ew, that's gross. It's more like to give freely so that people understand that when they buy from you they're gonna get even more of that with more attention to their specific questions, needs, situation.
So it's not, doesn't have to be gross. I think if you are writing it with the intention and the brand is putting it out there with the intention of giving, of themselves without like, as a gift, right? Like that's a definition of a gift is, you know, if I were to give Jessi, what I thought was just like a really beautiful necklace, and then Jessi turns around and says, you know, I could really like use this for some craft project I'm doing or, you know, maybe a few years later is like, you know, actually I think my sister-in-law might like this more than I would or something like that. Like, it's not me. I can't get mad about that, you know, to say like, well, you didn't do the thing with the gift that I told you to do. So it's the same with nurture content. We're giving it freely. We don't expect anything in return. We don't expect a gift in return. We don't expect someone to buy and return. We're there to put content out into the world for the purpose of connecting and also it's a business. So there will be sales later, but it's not a gimmick, if this makes sense.

Jessi:
Yeah. I think, you know, it's important to kind of walk that line because what we don't want nurture content to do is feel like a desperate grab to push them into conversion content right away. At the same time, we recognize that it's a business, as Marie said, and all of the nurture content should be focused around things that you can then help with in a paid capacity. So overall nurture content needs to do a couple of things. It needs to be really concise and clear. It needs to be-

Marie:
Like I wasn't just being, [inaudible] this particular piece of nurture content.

Jessi:
And honestly, this podcast is a really great example. The example Marie was giving, because those of you listening at home, some of you may decide to participate in one of our programs or join our community or anything like that. Others, you may listen to this podcast, maybe take some of the tips, incorporate them into your own business and go on with your lives. And we wouldn't know the difference. And honestly, that is great. Like, we want you to take what you can from this podcast and use it in the way that best suits you. And we're also available for additional support. And, you know, that is something that we're offering as a business, but we don't expect every single person who listens podcast to be like, take my money. That's not necessarily how it's structured.

Marie:
Right. One of the things that also, you know, if you're, if you're working with a client who's maybe not particularly altruistic and they don't see it that way, another thing to offer them is to let them know that, you know, how many times have you read a book by like a thought leader and incorporated an idea, and then you give them credit for it, right? Like you say, like, well, I picked up this idea in reading, you know, Mike Michalowicz's Profit First, I'm not going to, I'm not gonna go call myself a Profit First coach, because there's actually a program for that, that I haven't gone through and I'm not qualified for it. But like, do I implement it? Yeah. Do I give him credit for it? Yeah. This is helping build Mike's authority. Right? That he put that book out there in the world. So that's just an example, like the content that you put out there helps people come to trust you as an authority. So, that's another reason why nurture content is powerful, even if it doesn't lead to a sale from every single person who interacts with it.

Jessi:
Yeah. And the key is it will lead to sales from a portion of the people who interact with it without needing to feel desperate for those sales. As long as the nurture content you put out is focused, is actually connected to your offers and is providing your audience with the quick wins that they need, a portion of them will want more.
In fact, this is something I really like about how Mike Michalowicz views content in general. He doesn't hide anything. He doesn't, there is a philosophy around content creators, some content creators, and some business owners where the freebies that you give out is a small piece of the total knowledge that you have to share. That's fine. That's a viable strategy. And then if someone purchases from you, they get the rest. But the way Mike approaches, it is a little different. He gives you everything, you know, in his books and what whatnot, which granted our, you know, purchasable, but they're a minimal amount of money. But you can get everything that he knows in Profit First in clockwork, in all of these pieces of content, what you're paying for, if you decide to work with him is the extra implementation support. And so he understands that some of the people are gonna buy his book and just do it on their own. And they're fine. That's all they need. And other people are going to say, I could really use a little extra help with that. And so that's an opportunity for him to sell to people who really just want that higher touch while also still getting the philosophies that he believes in out to the world.
And that's something to think about with your own clients and your own business is which tack do you wanna take? Do you want them to be able to access the information so that they can DIY, or do you want some of that information to be held back? I prefer Mike's approach because I don't like keeping things from people, but different business models may think differently.

Marie:
Totally. I think a takeaway here is nurture content is really ought to be an ever present part of a brand strategy. If it's something that's useful to them. And I think even, you know, you were saying before Jessi, this is really great for service based businesses. It's really great for product based businesses too. Like, you know, we talk about KULA cloth all the time. End of the day, it's a piece of cloth to help you with your sanitation when you have to do number one in the wilderness. Right. But part of what makes the brand so special, I mean, I'd argue maybe 80% of what makes the brand so special is the way they put out nurture content, the way they interact with their audience. That's what makes people wanna buy from them. So this also totally works with product based businesses, nurture content is a part of most businesses, content strategies it's happening long before the sale, or maybe shortly before the sale, but it's always happening before the sale. It happens after the sale and, I might even argue that it happens kind of during. Because if someone is trying to sell something, but they're using like, oh, and here's a quick tip, like that's also kind of teaching and giving for free in the middle of it. And because there's so much of it and like what Jessi was alluding to with different different strategies to take like one nurture content strategy does not fit every business. So how do you choose, how do you know what direction to go? And I think the key here's the "how do you do it?" part of the episode, the key, in my opinion is first off just asking bunch of questions.

Jessi:
Yeah, absolutely. I think it's really important to not make assumptions about what your audience or your client's audience wants and needs, where their struggles are, those empathy points we've talked about in past episodes. You only really get to the heart of those empathy points if you are talking to your audience or if your client is talking to their audience. So I think it's really important when you're conceptualizing a nurture content strategy to make sure that you have a pulse on what the people who are being focused on need, what they want and how they articulate it. How do they talk about those wants and needs and what quick wins can be provided from that?
So there's a lot of different ways you can do this. You can look at hard data, quantitative data, things from email, social website visits, like are they always visiting the landing page for a certain service that your and offers and the other services not so much? Well, maybe that points to the fact that that particular service is addressing a need that is more prioritized in their audience's minds. What are, what kind of conversion rates do they have, which emails are being opened and which ones aren't, what are the subject lines on those? Have they been opening for example, emails that have subject lines that relate to time management, more than emails that have subject lines that relate to, you know, better boundaries, you know, little things like that can help you to direct the nurture content strategy, just looking at past content and how it's worked or not.

Marie:
Absolutely. And, you know, you said conversion rates, Jessi. And so if you're listening and you're like, well, wait, isn't conversion rates, sales copy, or conversion copy. Yeah, that's really important for that too. And even though this is nurture content that we're talking about now, all nurture content, really, you know, the reason that we are putting the information out there, that we're building the trust, we're making the connections, we're teaching, we're putting the ideas out there, it's to increase authority, it's to increase connections, it's to increase empathy and it's to build a business, right. And so if we know what is selling and how well it's selling, it's not just about like, oh, Hey, this is gonna make you, you know, a hundred thousand dollars. If we just push this a little more, it's about like, Hey, there's obviously a legitimate need for this thing, which means that if there's a need for it, and this is taking care of that need, then kind of, it's like our duty to put it out there so that more people who have that need can have it be addressed.
Like, I mean, we, anyway, it almost feels like you're doing a disservice to the audience who needs that thing, or could really use that thing if you're not guiding people towards it. And you're not talking about the preparatory things you to talk about to prepare someone, like, if there's some myth busting you need to do, or if there's just some really important conversations to be had, it's also important to ask questions around, like, where does the audience hang out? How do they consume content? So that you can make sure that you're advising on creating content that's due to those needs. And, you know, who's the content needing to attract? Do we need to dial in a little bit more to that?
Like, we have a client who, at first, some of her messaging was around like, ah, yeah, they run these programs, but they don't have full enrollment. So they want full enrolled. But then after a little while she realized like, no, those people are a little bit harder to work with for me, because they're very, like, just concerned about finances or they're very concerned about just like sort of day to day little things. And they're not able to think bigger. I actually need to be really focused on people who wanna take their business to the next level. And they're not really worried about little things like enrollment. In fact, they have enough enrollment. So taking, paying attention to what that messaging is there. And by the same token, who should the nurture content repel, because it is gonna repel some people. So, you know, even if you're like, oh, I'm writing the nicest thing ever, like, this is so nice, there's gonna be people who are like, have a backbone, have some grit, you know, and it's gonna repel them. So like, you cannot win. And that is fine. So who do you need to win with, right. Cause everyone else is probably gonna be a little bit on the like myth to repel side and that's fine, but it is a strategic decision that you can guide your client through.

Jessi:
Yeah, absolutely. I think that the key here is to remember that nurture content is strategic. It doesn't just exist solely so that you can be nice to your audience and give them content. It exists so that you can provide real value, help them, and, you know, hopefully provide them with the support that they need or move them along to the support that they need. So, as a former teacher, I like acronyms. I love, I live and breathe lots of acronyms. So, I'm going to give you an acronym that you can use when you're thinking about nurture content, whether it's about your own nurture content or your client's nurture content, this is a way to conceptualize really any piece of nurture content.
And you'll notice that throughout this episode, we haven't talked about platforms. We haven't talked about like, oh, this is how nurture content goes on your blog. And this is how nurture content goes on social media or in email campaigns. And there's a reason for that, because as Marie said earlier, there's no one size fits all nurture or strategy. Some businesses are going to focus on, you know, making lots of TikTok contents. Some businesses are gonna focus on SEO, heavy blog posts, others have, you know, YouTube, essentially TV shows that they put out there. So it's not really about the platform as much as it is about making sure that the content does what it needs to do for the audience. And that's where it's a little more universal. So regardless of the platform that you're using to convey your nurture content, we want the content to fall into this formula. And the acronym for it is steady, S T E A D Y. And we could do a whole episode on this. So I'm just gonna go over it quickly today. And we may circle back and dive do a deeper dive later on. But so in brief, study for nurture content, is content that is strategic, and by strategic we mean that it aligns with your client's content pillars. We've done a whole episode on 10 pillars. We wanna make sure that any nurture content that's created is not out in left field, that it does relate to your business and to your offers or your client's business and offers. So that's the S. The T is for targeted. So it is very clear who the content is talking to, not just the greater audio of your business or your client's business, but also if there's a subset of that audience that this content is for. I like to use the example of someone who is a veterinarian, and they may work with all sorts of animals, but they have a product that's specifically for owners of horses. And so their content, their nurture content towards horse owners is going to be different from their nurture content towards dog owners or towards any animal owner. So making sure that you know exactly who your audience is, which subset of that audience the content is for, and also where they are in their journey. What part, what is their particular struggle that you're addressing?
Next up is the E which could be one of two things, depending on the type of nurture content you're creating could be educational content. So where you're teaching something directly, this is where my brain tends to go again as a former teacher and also my copywriting character is the scholar. So I'm always in teacher mode, but sometimes it's also helpful to take that teacher hat off and create content that is empathetic, where we're talking about those empathy points, where we're really giving our audience permission to be where at feel, how they feel and know that there is a path forward, and that can be hugely powerful. It's also a really good opportunity for some storytelling to let them know that you know what they're going through.
The A in steady is for actionable. Which is essentially your call to action, just because it's sales copy or just because it's not sales copy doesn't mean that they can't take some sort of action. Even if that action is something as simple as sitting back and journaling about something that you, a question that you pose or a going to a different piece of nurture content, you know, there are a lot of different ways that you can make it actionable. It can be something they do on their own, or it could be something they do to interact with your business a little bit more.
The D is digestible. Is it easy to read? Is it easy to understand, if you tend to be, or if your client tends to be an expert in something which, you know, that kind of what the focus of a business is your area of expertise can be very easy to try and just info dump on people. So making sure that the content is broken down in a way that makes it really easy for someone who's not an expert to understand and follow.
And then the last one is the Y, which is your own or your client's own. Does the content reflect the brand? Is it, does it follow the brand's voice values and personality? So it really speaks to what the brand stands for. So that's steady, strategic, targeted, educational or empathetic, actionable, digestible, and your own.

Marie:
I love it. Yeah. And I think keep that a little acronym in mind, write it down if you need to, or check these show notes if you wanna see it written down there. And I just wanna wrap us up with a reminder that like, half the battle is mindset. If you're already offering strategic direction and support for your clients, great. If that's something that you want to do, but feel a little nervous about, this little word is for you. So, you might feel a little intimidated by it, or if you haven't had that kind of relationship with your client, it may feel kinda weird and kind of scary, cuz you're like, Hey, I'm gonna be offering this new thing. And, pro tip, as Jessi mentioned before, strategic support can, and probably should command a higher fee than just sort of implementing based on somebody else's strategy.
And so it may be a little uncomfortable to have that conversation with your client where you say like, Hey, I wanna be offering some strategic support for you. And this is kind of what it would look like. And part what that would look like is I'm raising my rates. So that may be a little scary, but just remember if you're qualified, you're qualified. And also when you've reached a level of competence and mastery at something, but you're not taking the next step, you're not stepping into like, okay, you're really great at writing blog posts, but like now you're like, you know what, I'm seeing some data and I'm like also just wondering like how effective are these? Could we do these three things to make it more effective? Could we integrate this or that, you're coming up with these ideas and you're not allowed to do it, you're gonna get bored. You're gonna get to a point where you're like, I don't have satisfaction with my work because I'm capable of X, Y, and Z, and I'm only doing X. And so if you're anything like me, yeah, you're gonna get bored.
So I think at some point, you know, maybe it's not with your current clients, if you're having a really difficult conversation with them and they're not willing to pay a higher fee or get that kind of support. But just remember if you're qualified, you're qualified. So I think you can take that leap with the next prospect that you have a conversation with. You can do this and I believe in you.

Jessi:
Absolutely. At the end of the day, it comes down to what you want outta your business and how you want to show up for your clients. There's not a wrong answer. It's just important to know your answer and to check in on it periodically. And also remember you're still running a business, so you have to have that strategy hat on sometimes, regardless if it's not for your clients, it's going to be for yourself. It's best to get some practice at it. And once you feel comfortable enough with it to offer it to your clients, if that's something you're interested in, go for it.

Marie:
Absolutely. So, my bit of homework for you is to take the next piece of nurture content that you create and apply Jessi's acronym to it, steady, right? So is it strategic? Is it targeted? Is it educational and or empathetic? Is it actionable? Like, is there a CTA, is it digestible? Like, are you getting bored yourself reading it? That's a red flag. And is it your own or your client's own, so run it through, it's just a quick checklist and kind of a gut check to make sure that it's on target and it's doing all the things that you need it to do. And boom, you're doing some content strategy right there.

Jessi:
Alright, Yep. And tune in next time where we shift gears and start talking about conversion, copy or sales copy.

Marie:
Hey, don't go. Super quick. One thing that we've heard from writers a lot is that they are feeling very stretched in that there's a lot of demands on their time. They're struggling to get it all done. They may be holding down a day job and they've got freelance work and maybe also a novel on the side and like children and like all the things and it's a lot. And so they know that they need some help feeling little bit less overwhelmed. If this is something that you're experiencing, can you do us a favor and shoot us an email, letting us know? What does that look like for you? You don't have to go into like nitty gritty details of your life. You can literally just say like, yeah, I'm experiencing that. We are wanting to have some conversations around this, and we're also looking at offering a program specifically designed to help you reclaim some of that time and energy. So all you need to do is send us an email at contact@northstarmessaging.com and say, Hey, I'm feeling overwhelmed. You can elaborate on that if you want, but you don't have to, but we would love to have a conversation with you. Anything you wanna add, Jessi?

Jessi:
No, I think that's it. We're looking forward to hearing from you and helping you to reclaim some of your time.

Marie:
Thanks. Okay. So again, that's contact@northstarmessaging.com.
Thanks for joining us for this episode of the Brand Your Voice Podcast. Make sure to visit our website, northstarmessaging.com, where you can subscribe to the show on iTunes, Spotify, and more.

Jessi:
If you found value in this episode, we'd love for you to leave us a review on iTunes and share it with your friends. Thank you, and happy content creating.

For additional content strategy and branding tips, check out northstarmessaging.com/blog. Also, please tag us on Instagram and let us know you’re out there! @northstarmessaging 


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