If you’re not in the content marketing game by now, you should be. As the name suggests, content marketing is an extension of your current marketing program. Your focus should be on putting out great content (blogs, social media, articles, etc.) that helps you to achieve your business objectives. Something that should be on every business owner’s radar is making sure you have strong relationships with your target audience, whether they are existing customers or whether they are prospective customers.

Here are a few things to consider when you are building your content plan:

#1: What’s out there already?

If you haven’t already done so, you need to have a look at what the current trends are in your industry. Like it or not, your competitors are also putting out content and yours has to compete on the same stage for the same audience attention. A good starting point is to have a detailed look at your closest competitors and the types of content that are working for them. You will want to note engagement levels (commenting, sharing, etc.), format, and topical focus. Keep track of your findings in a spreadsheet so you can refer to it later.

#2: What have you done in the past?

The dreaded internal audit. Look at all content that you have put out in the past (if you have any) and, similar to your competitors, take note of what worked and what didn’t. There is no sense repeating something if it had no positive effect on your business.

#3: What are your options?

A good content plan will incorporate multiple forms of content. As they say, “variety is the spice of life!” Producing a variety of content types will keep your audience coming back for more because they know it will be different than the last time. Variety can come in a few forms: Format, type, and topical. Topical differentiation will vary by industry, but the key here is that you want to address a variety of topics that are relevant to your audience.

In terms of format, here are the different types: Text, photos, videos, audio, and slide presentations.

Where type of content is concerned, the list could be endless, and some types will work better in certain industries more than others. Here is a list of some of the most common types of content:

  • Blog posts
  • Ebook
  • Case studies
  • Email newsletters
  • Q&A Interview
  • White Paper
  • Vlog
  • Surveys
  • Slideshares
  • Webinar
  • Quiz
  • Guide
  • Podcast
  • Infographic
  • User generated content
  • Company news/media release

#4: Work smarter, not harder

With the right approach, you can make your content do most of the work for you when it comes to reaching your business goals. One way to make sure this happens is to directly address the needs of your audience. This could mean answering a question or providing a solution to a common industry problem.

When it comes to topical ease, the key is to plan your article topics out well in advance. There are going to be certain timely topics that are seasonal or related to industry events, and there will be topics that are considered evergreen where relevancy is not limited by time. It is easier to plan out the timely topics and fill in the gaps with the evergreen content whose topics can be revisited multiple times throughout the year.

To help you achieve your business objectives, include a call-to-action in each post. If you already have your audience’s attention, it is the right time to ask.

#5: Can people find you?

It happens time and time again. There are great content creators out there, but they don’t do enough to promote their content so no one reads it. You have a couple of options available to you: Promote it yourself, or hire someone to promote you. Often, people have a hard time promoting themselves because they feel it is self-serving. Well, it is! And there is nothing wrong with that. You didn’t become a business owner or an expert so you can fade into the background. Until you have a loyal fan base talking about you, you have to talk yourself up. This can be done on social media, through paid search, and through advertising. A PR professional can also make sure your content gets seen in select media publications.

It’s never too late to get started on your content planning. For more basics on content strategy, check out Brand Success: How to Have a Killer Content Strategy.

What are you doing to get your content out there?

Content originally posted on the SongBird Marketing Communications blog.