Successfully developing a content marketing culture, not just within your marketing team but, across your organization requires planning, process and workflow. Creating certain documents with key stakeholders within the organization will validate executive buy-in, align content marketing to business objectives, help to establish a culture of content inside the company and ensure consistency of delivery and implementation.

Buyer Personas

Buyer Personas are examples of real people who make up your customers and clients. They can also include individuals who may influence the buying decision in some way. A persona goes deeper than demographics. Personas are developed by asking questions about a buyer’s motivation and learning what holds the buyer back from making a purchasing decision. Talking directly to your current customers will allow you to really find out the solutions they are seeking from your product or service. By taking the time to document and understand your customer in this way, your content team will develop content that resonates and engages, moving leads through the buyer’s journey to conversion.

Buyer’s Journey

Developing a buying journey for each of your personas is critical to the content marketing strategy. Interviewing existing clients and internal sales staff to develop these documents allows for a more robust buyer’s journey to work from when developing content marketing ideas. Mapping out how your customers go from awareness to conversion will allow you to create content for each unique stage of this client journey. Taking on the “education first” mindset and understanding how your buyers want to engage with you will allow for more qualified leads into your marketing funnel.

Style Guide

Content consistency is reliant on the creation and implementation of a style guide. A few key components that make up a style guide can be brand voice and writing style, the content structure that resonates with your audience, the types of content that work best with your audience, use of brand image and logo, as well as use of all graphic images and proper sourcing documentation. A style guide will ensure consistency, create efficiency in workflow and often resolve editorial conflicts.

Content & Social Media Policy / Implementation Guide

This document has expanded over the past few years to include additional content platforms beyond social media. The policy section should outline what employees can and cannot do in terms of social media and the company, as well as blogging, review sites, and any other content that may be created by the company for external distribution. The implementation guide section is the “how-to” part of the document. This should be more like a training manual or playbook that outlines specific examples, shows the employee best practices and provides actual content that can be used in certain situations.

Content Inventory

Before you start creating new content, take the time to inventory your existing content within the organization. Depending on how big the company, this could feel like a daunting task. But making a content inventory list will help your content team find gaps connected to the buyer’s journey, have an organized list of content for future campaigns and provide ideas for repurposing content vs. creating something entirely from scratch. This list should be updated as new content is created and should also have input from the necessary stakeholders within the organization who are associated with each piece of content.

Content Editorial Calendar

The Content Editorial Calendar is critical to ensuring the content team is not only on the same page, but working toward specific benchmarks that align with the organization. Important elements included should be content type and structure, topic/title, who is responsible, draft due and publish dates, stage of the buyer’s journey, keywords, target persona, offer or call to action (CTA) and publish destinations. This should be a working document that is discussed at regular team meetings but can also be shared with management to show progress and future content planning.

Campaign Program Calendar

Driving new contacts to your database and nurturing your existing contacts requires the development of a campaign program that is connected to both your business objectives and your content marketing strategy. By laying out a quarterly program plan your team can proactively integrate existing content into campaigns or begin the development of new content if required. What comes first, the content or the campaign idea? When you have a content team working with both a content editorial calendar and a campaign program calendar, the answer will be “it depends.” Both documents will begin to work in parallel ensuring all necessary team members are aware of existing content, content ideation and campaign content needs.

Taking the time to develop and prepare these documents is critical to successfully implementing a content marketing strategy. They do take time to create and require the content manager or strategist to be working across departments, breaking down silos along the way. But the work you put in up front will reap the benefits in the long term, helping your organization establish a content culture along the way.