“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
The success of any strategy implementation depends on how well you plan for it. This universal truth applies to content marketing as well. Creating and publishing random content does no good in helping a business achieve its growth targets.
Don’t worry, laying out a solid content marketing plan isn’t rocket science. Here are 5 simple steps for putting down your vision into an actionable, result-driven agenda:
1. Carve an Identity
Almost every other business is creating content, how do you stand out from the competition? A content marketing voice helps in creating a distinct content identity; it breaks the clutter and helps connect with the relevant audience. An honest content voice blossoms from a brand’s personality.
Ever wondered if your brand persona is a ruler, a magician or a creative person? Brand personalities often germinate from the motivations and goals of their respective founders.
Once you go into the roots of a business’s existence, you start understanding the brand’s core values and traits. It’s from here that you can craft the right content marketing voice.
A ruler persona may have an authoritative, larger than life voice while a creative one can be playful, fun, and ‘always looking for inspiration’ types.
The end goal is to find three emotional words that represent your content marketing voice. These words can lay the foundation of a content guideline document for the team to follow. Within this document you can include:
- Do’s and don’ts of content vocabulary.
- Types of colors, images, and fonts to use.
- Quality benchmarks for content creation – quality scoring drives conversions.
Take a look at this example of an interactive content piece from the fitness brand ClassPass:
The content voice of ClassPass revolves around stuff like motivation, inspiration, hip, and helpful. A unique expression makes content tasteful and helps attract the relevant audience.
2. Know Your Audience
One of the key responsibilities of a content marketer is to understand the targeted audience. It’s almost impossible to go ahead and do content marketing without knowing the audience.
Defining an audience persona helps to create content pieces that appeal to a niche audience.
A character sketch is a constant reminder for the content team to stick to a distinct style. An audience persona covers demographics such as age, sex, location, marital status, and profession and psychographics such as goals, challenges, preferences, hobbies, interests, and behavioural traits.
Take a look at this example:
There are various ways to collect relevant information:
- Interact directly with existing customers.
- Interview sales teams to know more about ideal buyers.
- Organize surveys and focused group discussions.
The more you empathize with the people who’re your future customers, the better.
3. Define the Channels
There’re many online channels where businesses can publish and promote content. Focussing on a limited number of channels can help a business save time and get better results. Let’s take a look at some common content marketing channels:
- Business Blog
A B2B business can choose to emphasize on channels like a business blog, LinkedIn, and Medium, for instance. Likewise, a fashion business gets the maximum results from Instagram. There are many businesses who choose to create only video content – YouTube is their go-to content marketing channel.
While you can have a presence on all online marketing channels, utilizing your efforts towards a select few is a great way to optimize the business outcomes.
4. Set a Frequency
Scaling up content marketing efforts is one of the keys to attaining the desired business outcomes. Every business has a unique publishing cycle. Some marketers are happy doing in-depth pieces twice a month while there are others who publish a piece every day.
The right frequency varies with every business and niche.
Marketers can do a competitive analysis to develop a strategy that helps them get ahead of some of their closest competitors. The ultimate goal should be to become a leader in the niche and achieve consistent follower growth.
5. Resource Planning
Building up a team and finding the right tools is a breeze once you have chalked out the content creation and promotion frequency.
- Choose from a list of SEO and content marketing tools.
- Decide on the number of team members you need.
- Choose between hiring an in-house team and outsourcing.
- Create a process for team collaboration – a document or a tool where the team members can contribute ideas and research.
- Use a Gantt Chart to assign tasks and track progress.
A resource plan helps marketers to ensure efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the content marketing efforts.
6. Figure Out the Key Metrics
Content marketing is a long-term game, yet there needs to be some mechanism to know how it’s coming along.
Make a list of the key metrics based on content goals:
- Brand awareness – content views and shares.
- Audience growth – fans, followers, and email subscribers.
- Conversions – sales and revenue.
- Content quality – likes and comments.
Marketers can track these basic metrics to understand if they are headed in the right direction. You can add channel-specific and product–specific metrics to customize the goal sheet according to business requirements.
Monthly reports can help marketers to analyze the results and work on the shortfalls.
Over to You
A documented content marketing plan can go a long way in helping your business create content that delivers results. Good planning gives the team a ready reckoner on the ‘what’, ‘how’, and ‘when’ of each of the content marketing activities.