For content marketing programs to be effective, organizations can deploy a variety of marketing strategies. Regardless of the strategy however, a specific content marketing action plan must be created. The plan objectives should then cascade down to all marketing groups to ensure an integrated, holistic and sustained customer acquisition and retention program.

Best-in-class organizations gravitate to a pragmatic, actionable approach for building and executing a content marketing plan. They focus on who owns and contributes content, the content format(s) and when specific deliverables are due.

One of the challenges in creating successful content marketing is to ensure the content marketing programs are set up for long-term success. If no overarching plan exists, typically one or more individuals will create and distribute content, resulting in an uncoordinated execution. For this reason, best in-class companies create not only a plan, but a comprehensive content planning calendar as well.

Content Marketing Planning Calendar

A content planning calendar can be a relatively simple one-page spreadsheet that summarizes communications channels, dates or a timeline. Each communications channel should contain the details of specific deliverables and timeframes.

For example, Social Media may be broken down into:

  • Linkedin
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • YouTube
  • Vimeo
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • and Google+

Next, take each content channel and document its specific deliverables. An example may look like:

LinkedIn: share an update, upload a photo, publish a post, initiate a forum discussion.

Content Marketing Contributors

Another challenge for organizations is to determine the individuals who will be creating content. In general, these people tend to fall into two roles: content contributors and content owners.

Content Contributors are subject matter experts (SMEs) who are well-versed in the market, technology, competitors, customers and the specific product or service of one’s organization. Content Owners are held accountable for actually producing the deliverable. In some cases, the Content Contributor and Content Owner may be the same person.

It’s very useful to take the Content Planning Calendar and overlay the titles or names of the owners and contributors of content across the top (in place of the date). Next, for each deliverable (the intersection of each row and column), shade cells with a color to identify whether an owner or contributor role is required.

This framework provides a great starting point for an organization to customize the calendar to an organization’s specific needs. Documenting all communications vehicles and all corresponding tasks provides a useful content marketing checklist for tracking, monitoring and managing resources.

Take some time to identify the right resources (SMEs) as each choice should be mad in the context of:

  • domain expertise
  • the specific audience
  • the communications vehicle

Finally, it’s important to avoid the temptation to continuously go back to the same SME for each and every request – this is almost always not the best choice for the organization. And, be sure to put in place longer term practices and processes to attract, retain and nurture SMEs with ongoing training, recognition, feedback and compensation.

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