Winging It is Not a Strategy: Here’s What You Need for Your First Content Marketing Plan
If winging it has been your content marketing strategy, it’s time to stop. You need to document and develop your very first content marketing plan. Download all the things from your head onto paper!
Because documented strategies can be measured and analyzed, which gives you the data to make smarter decisions when it comes to your content.
And, when more than half (51%) of B2B buyers rely on content to research their buying decisions, you always want to be making the smartest possible decision when it comes to your content.
According to CMI’s 2016 Content Marketing Report, 88% of businesses today are doing content marketing.
But only 30% of those businesses rate their content marketing effective.
Why? Because most businesses (68% roughly) don’t have a documented content marketing plan.
Let’s make sure you’re part of the 30% doing content marketing right. Here are the five essential elements of a solid content marketing plan.
There is nothing worse than creating content, simply for the sake of creating content. Click To Tweet
Your Content Goals
This may sound obvious but do you know why you really want to make content?
There is nothing worse than creating content, simply for the sake of creating content.
Different content goals means different content direction, so ask yourself these two questions:
• Who is my target audience?
• What problems will my content help them solve?
Getting specific is the key here — creating generic content for the masses just won’t cut it. When you spend time honing in on your target audience, then it makes creating content that resonates with them easier.
Your Target Audience
You know how important determining buyer personas are. The same thing goes for your target reader (who is ultimately your buyer persona). Let’s do a quick example:
Event planners. It’s an audience that has range. There’s different types of event planners:
• Corporate Event planners
• Trade Show/Conference planners
• Wedding planners
• Special Events planners
• Meeting planners
Could you create content that resonated with both a corporate event planner and a wedding planner? What about the different levels of experience within each group?
What resonates with an experienced corporate event planner doesn’t always translate over to a beginner event planner.
You don’t have to narrow down to just one niche, but you do have to be specific.
Next, you need to figure out what problems your niche is having. This is where some serious online sleuthing comes into effect.
Online communities or forums that are specifically set up for your target audience can be a great starting point. If you have no idea where to find those, some good places to start are:
• LinkedIn groups
These sites are great for doing reader persona research because the content is user submitted, and is up-voted by the same community members. Which means the most relevant questions or posts are pushed to the top.
Your Audience’s Content Preference
Now that you know who you’re creating content for, you need to figure out what kind of content you’re going to make.
How do you figure that out? Buzzsumo.
It’s a great online tool that can help you identify what the most shared content is within your industry. Not only can it identify top performing content, but if you look closely, you can also tell what kind of content format does best in your niche.
Each platform’s audience tends to favour different kinds of content formats. Here’s a quick snapshot of what kinds of content get shared the most, based on social media platform:
• Facebook or Pinterest; imaged-based content
• LinkedIn; industry insights or thought leadership content
• Twitter; list-based or how-to content
This is just a starting point. You can still (and should) experiment with different content formats within your resources to see what sticks with your readers.
Your Content Creation Workflow
You have the why, who and what. Now you need to look at how.
How long will it take you to create each content piece? How will you realistically manage content creation?
Taking inventory of the available resources to help you create content is a great exercise to do at this point. Getting an idea of how much content you have capacity for is the key here. This step will help you answer two questions:
1. Who is going to create content?
2. What will the workflow be?
If you’re a solopreneur, then you’re the content creator. A simple content creation workflow for you could look like this: ideate, write, edit, schedule, publish.
If you’re a small business with an in-house team, then the workflow could be a more elaborate than that.
One thing piece of content marketing advice that seems to be universal is that consistency is crucial. Be sure that the schedule you develop is sustainable and something you can stay committed to.
“Get into the habit of factoring content promotion into your workflow — it’s just as important as producing the content itself.”
Your Content Promotion Checklist
Content marketing isn’t just creating content and calling it a day. You have to know how and where to distribute your content, so that it actually gets some attention and actually gets read.
Developing a content promotion checklist ensures that you amplify your content and get in front of the right audience.
Remember, promotion does not always mean paid advertising. There are a slew of different ways to promote your content online that work within a $0 budget. A few solid tactics are email outreach, social media and guest posting.
Get into the habit of factoring content promotion into your workflow — it’s just as important as producing the content itself.
It’s no secret — businesses who do content marketing are giving themselves a competitive edge. But your content execution is only as good as your content plan, and developing your first strategy document doesn’t have to be complicated.
The clarity that comes with having a documented content marketing strategy is positively beautiful — and readers will certainly notice a difference too.
Do you have a documented content marketing strategy? What’s stopping you from creating one?
Featured Image via Marketing Land