In Content Marketing, Planning Is EverythingContent is a critical part of any marketing effort today. It’s the currency that companies can use to answer prospect questions, build trust and generate leads in return.

Good content marketing is not about volume, but rather a deliberate connection with the audience and their needs. This point can’t be taken too lightly, because too many companies create content that speaks to themselves rather than customers.

Want high-impact content? Try these five steps:

1. Map the “who” to the “what.”

Who is reading the content now? Who might in the future? This second question is often neglected due to pressure for content to be timely and relevant. Plan some “evergreen” content to stand the test of time, or at least the next three years. Think about who reads and will be reading your content and what those people value or need to guide your content creation. Need specifics? Consult your customer personas.

2. Don’t write for anyone else.

Don’t write what amuses you or seems fun. Don’t be scholarly. Don’t write for your peers. Know your audience, label your content for them, and stick to that conversation. The only exception here is if you are deliberately trying to connect with a new group of users with a different profile.

3. Find the right keywords.

One of the great things about truly understanding your audience is that it prepares you to connect with them through the right tone and message as well as through the technological power of SEO keywords. That blend of culture and code is a powerful one. A word of caution here: Use keywords naturally and with discipline. Think of keywords as labels that guide the audience to the information they will like and use the most.

4. Write well in advance of your deadline.

Reacting to trending items is for Twitter. For content marketing, whether it involves text or images, your work and your audience will benefit from planning and thoughtfulness, not speed. Give yourself about two weeks to do your best work.

Engaging in conversations about emerging issues requires a special mindset and the ability to navigate topics and challenges as they unfold. That is quite different from the thoughtful content marketing described above, so if you can, separate those roles by assigning trending content to a different writer.

These five things to consider are easy to implement and deliver consistent results for content marketing over time.

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