Learn How to Build Your Own Content Plan
Content marketing’s moment has passed, yet it remains extremely important for most B2B and B2C companies. You have to start thinking like a media company, by telling your brand story and differentiating it, when it comes to content. For many marketers who have not worked in public relations or for a media outlet, this can be a challenge. Start with your brand story and build out your content marketing plan and you will be ready to go.
Content is not any less relevant than it has been. In fact, content spending will grow exponentially over the next few years. And yet, marketing budgets make up only a fraction of the money spent on content by a typical company in a given year.
I’m going to run you through some of the basics and give you a process to build a robust marketing content strategy.
Do you know the importance of a content plan to your website? What strategy do you have for developing fresh and relevant content? Marketing is changing. Without the right content, your online business can collapse. If you do not invest in the right content, expect to see your business struggling. The purpose of creating the right content is to enhance all the marketing efforts that your business is currently applying to attract more customers and increase sales. Use you content across your target customers’ buying process. Think in terms of what content should be published to the right stage of your target audience. I’ll flush this out later.
Your customers are tuning out traditional marketing methods while consuming information. They are making buying decisions on mobile phones, tablets, computers, smart televisions, and wearable devices. In fact, 57% of a typical purchase decision is made before a customer even talks to a supplier, according to a CEB study of more than 1,400 B2B customers across industries.
Developing a great content plan
A content plan refers to the strategies that you develop for all your content marketing endeavors. Each year, the plan needs tweaking to get rid of the ineffective aspects. For example, the content plan that your business followed in 2016 should change in 2017. We typically lay a quarterly theme and develop an EdCal for that period. Without a content plan, your business struggles to create, publish and distribute structured content to your targeted stakeholders.
Why it is important
The goals and objectives of any content marketing plan are to make the business attractive to new customers. The plan should go beyond this and bring in the new clients. The content marketing plan has specific components that include premium content assets and visual content. The other components include blogs and social media networks. Premium content assets include webinars, eBooks, and other similar tools.
Your business needs a content marketing plan to engage with audiences. When your brand needs improving, you should use a content plan to achieve this goal. Why?
- The plan is effective at generating leads.
- It helps you to identify the personas of your buyers/customers.
- It helps to determine the type of content that your customers need or prefer.
- A content plan helps you to identify the achievable marketing goals.
In the absence of a content plan, you are likely to focus excessively on the content or content strategy to the detriment of the overall business goals. Developing and operating within the boundaries of content plan helps you to be more effective in your marketing strategies. Your business cannot operate without a plan. Your marketing endeavors cannot succeed without the right plan. Content marketing is ineffective without a plan.
Content marketing roadmap framework
Here is the framework I use to take brands through the development of a detailed content marketing plan.
The 7-step process
A blind pursuit of content marketing in the hope that it proves useful and effective is a poor strategy. A proper plan is now necessary since the market is now full of savvier customers. You have to spend time creating the plan. You need to think about the plan. Think of the practical ways the plan would help your business’ content marketing efforts. To do this, you should learn about the 7-step process of creating your content plan. The process is as follows:
1. Documenting the Strategy & Identifying the Leaders of the Content Marketing Team
Do not deviate from documenting your strategy. You can only identify the people to lead the content marketing team after developing and documenting your strategy. A workforce is crucial to the effectiveness of content marketing. The size of the team is not important. If you work alone, take charge of content marketing. If you have a team under you, appoint a leader who reports to you, but is responsible for all the other aspects of content marketing.
2. Prepare a budget
All marketing requires financing. Therefore, make a budget that covers all aspects of content marketing – from creation, to publishing, to distribution. The budget should consider the need for keeping targeted audience engaged as frequently as possible. If the business wants to engage with customers daily, it must have a budget for creating, publishing and distributing content every day.
3. Hire the perfect team
Hire the correct team to work under your appointed leader. Your team should have a blogger. The blogger must be good with your brand story and be able to translate that into an on-going story with content. A good content team requires a content creator, social media manager, a designer and an SEO specialist. Good people in this category can be hard to find. Therefore, identify the qualities that you want each member of the team to manifest as a precondition to hiring.
4. Acquiring the right tools
The most important asset to the success of your content marketing endeavors is the right team and leader. Once you equip the personnel with the right tools, your content mapping plan would be on its way to success. Some of the tools that you need include CMS, analytics tools, project management software, and design software. These four only represent the core technologies that your content plan requires. If you use agile as your project methodologies, check out TaskMeister and content management. I use HubSpot COS.
5. Content Mapping and Creation
Once the right team is in place, and you bring in the recommended tools, the next step is to begin creating content. First, the team has to know the type of content to create. Second, the team must identify and delegate responsibility to the person who shall be creating content. The common types of content worth creating include blog posts, premium assets, and visual content. The more the team grows, the more important it is for everybody to specialize in creating specific content.
Before I begin to build out my content, I must first begin with the buyer’s journey. In its simplest form, it’s broken down into four (4) stages: Awareness stage; consideration stage; decision stage; and loyalty stage. Once I understand the key questions and needs of my buyers, I can begin to develop rich content that they will consume, move to the next buying stage and ultimately make a sale.
I’ve listed a few types of content to consider as well as why they are relevant in telling your brand’s story:
If you want to tell your brand story, you should start a company blog. When writing be sure to write for your audience rather than about you. Not only will people share it if the content is engaging, but if you focus on the SEO of the post and do your keyword research, people will start to find you in search results and could eventually find you organically. HubSpot and Rainmaker are both great B2B blogging platforms.
If you want to give a literal voice to your brand’s story, podcasts are the way to go. You can re-purpose blog posts or eBooks and turn them into a podcast. You can, but I suggest that you don’t reinvent the wheel if you don’t need to.
Did you know that about 65% of consumers are more likely to buy a product or service after watching a video? Make your videos educational, entertaining, and emotional. Only a handful of business are creating video content for their audiences, which will make it easier for you to stand out from the crowd in this space and tell your story for all to hear. This is going to be a big year for video. I use Abobe Premier Pro for video editing.
Photographs on Your Website and Social Media
Go ahead and show your brand’s personality. Consider showing behind-the-scenes images of you and your co-workers. It will help people feel like they know you and your brand. And over 90% of people say images are a deciding factor when purchasing products and services.
Creating inspiring quote cards is an easy way to create and show your brands personality. Quote cards are easy to share across social media platforms. Make it easy for them to share your content to spread the word. The quotes should reflect your brand’s personality. I use Buffer’s Pablo.
You have to be credible to capture your audience’s attention. How To’s imply that you know what you’re talking about because you’re passing your wisdom on to other people. If you want to appear as a thought leader through your brand or personal storytelling, How To’s are a great way to do this, whether they be in video or written form.
If you want your story told, create an infographic. Infographics are easy to consume and a great way to pass on a lot of information without writing a novel. Here’s a great eBook on how to increase leads with infographics. Get it now >>>
Writing white papers, guides, and e-books is a great way to establish authority within your industry and help further your story. Great brand storytellers engage their audience. Be sure to write what your personas want/need, not what you want to write personally for them.
Simple facts and figures do not typically resonate when it comes to storytelling…unless, of course, you do something fun with these facts and figures that show your brand’s personality. Design your data to reflect your brand. Like infographics, this is a unique and engaging way to share your information quickly.
Let your content do the storytelling for you. The most important thing to remember when telling your brand’s story is to keep your audience in mind. The content and illustrations you create should be written for them, not what you want them to read.
Stories get told through interactions with others as well. Make your content engaging enough that people will want to share it through social media, word of mouth, or other means. If you create the right content, your customers and followers will tell your story for you. It also generates social proof to help you sell more stuff.
6. Content Distribution
Your team must come up with a plan on how to distribute the content after creating it. The content would not be useful if you retain and do nothing with it. Distributing the content ensures that it is out there where your targeted audience can find it. Distributing the content is akin to giving it wings with which to fly. Content marketing must incorporate distribution. Often, many content marketing teams skip this part or fail to plan well.
Some channels that you should consider for distributing content are search engines and social media. Do not ignore emails. Use social ads and Pay Per Click avenues too. Find efficient ways of distributing content. Identify creative but effective ways of promoting the content that you created. Look for the right platforms for publishing the content. After all, publishing is one way of distributing content.
7. Measuring the effectiveness of content marketing
This step shows the importance of analytics. You cannot improve what you don’t measure. You need tools that can examine all the relevant metrics and prove the effectiveness of the content marketing plan. Traffic to the website and all leads should be part of the metrics that the content marketing team measures. Leads are crucial for revenue while traffic is important to increasing conversion opportunities. You should not forget to assess the effectiveness of the blog, gated assets, and social media.
Results and Benefits
Content marketing increases the opportunities for positioning you and/or your company with a consistent message. It will help you increase new leads and pipeline conversion. But only if you plan and execute it. A plan that drives more traffic to your site while increasing leads.
A plan helps you to formulate the right tactics, which are crucial for building authority and fostering trust. Content plans increase sales opportunities. The plan helps you to build credibility. A content plan helps your business to increase the number of valuable customers.
If you have a business, one reason you’re not experiencing optimum success from your marketing team may be that you lack of a comprehensive content plan. So what are you waiting for? Use this as a guide and enjoy the benefits of solid content marketing strategy.