Carolyn, a director of demand generation in the hospitality industry, shared that “It takes too much work to develop the wrong content.” Sadly, many organizations use a “spray and pray” methodology for content development and discover too late that much of their effort was wasted on the wrong content. Carolyn is not going that route and in this month’s article. In this month’s step of the revenue marketing journey, we cover content marketing strategy and the steps to developing the best content editorial calendar.

Step 1: Know What Content Is Valuable for Your Clients

Seems like a simple concept, right? When was the last time you surveyed your customers to find out what content topics they like, what channels they like, or their preferred content medium? In a recent interview, Michael Brenner, CEO of Marketing Insider Group and co-author of “The Content Formula,” shared that companies are only just now learning “how to utilize content to effectively meet the needs of their audience as opposed to meeting the needs of their business.” If the primary guide for your content decisions is the download reports from your website you are not on solid ground for planning your content calendar. So conduct a customer engagement survey, find out what content they like. Get free subscriptions to Buzzsumo and Grapevine6 and learn:

  • Which audience is interested in what topics
  • What type of content they are sharing
  • What sources of information are they using
  • Which influencers are most important

Step 2: Document Your Personas (5 to 7 Max)

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. 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.

Step 3: Document the Full Customer Journey Map

Marketing engages with prospect and customer not just when they are in the funnel for the first time, but throughout their lifecycle including adoption, value realization, loyalty and advocacy. This means that we need content suitable for every stage of the customer journey map.

Your customer journey map should inform your content marketing strategy.

Your customer journey map should inform your content marketing strategy.

Step 4: Audit Your Current Content

Now that you have the customer journey map and the personas, audit your content based on which personas suit what pieces of content and in which stages of the customer journey map can it be effective. Some additional criteria you might consider in the audit include content type, medium, consume-ability, centricity (product, company, or customer), level of engagement achieved, product/service served, industry, gated/ungated, purpose (reach, engagement, conversion, retention) etc. Build the audit in such a way that it can be used as an ongoing inventory of content and so new entries are added to it as they are developed. With the audit in hand, you should be able to see the gaps where more content is needed, but we’re not done yet.

Step 5: Review the Program/Campaign Calendar

Wait you say, don’t we need a content editorial calendar in order to arrive at a program/campaign calendar? It is true that one informs the other. On the one hand the program/campaign calendar is built based on interpreting the marketing revenue goals (sic) by product, region and channel, and on the other hand the exact nature of a campaign may not be determined without knowing what content will be available to support it. Both calendars will ultimately be developed in parallel and must not be developed in isolation.

Step 6: Reference Your Style Guide and Your Social Media Policy Guide

No doubt your firm will have a style guide that may constrain content choices. Most guides outline brand voice and writing style, content structure, use of imagery and logos. At many firms, the content and social media policy/implementation guide has expanded in the past few years to include additional content platforms beyond social media. Obviously, it provides guidance to employees on creating social content and blog posts, but it may also inform the reader on which content platforms and channels may be used for which types of content.

Step 7: Develop Your Content Editorial Calendar

The content editorial calendar is critical to ensuring the content team is aligned to the demand generation needs of the business. Important elements included should be content type and structure, topic/title, who is responsible, draft due and publish dates, stage in the customer journey map, 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.

Following these steps and developing a sound content editorial calendar is critical to successfully implementing a content marketing strategy. It will take time to create and requires the content strategist to work 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, and executing a great content marketing strategy.