Five musts for getting content planning right

Customers expect it, most marketers are doing it and we're all talking about it: this truly is the age of content marketing. That said, of the estimated nine in 10 companies practicing it, only 31 per cent have a strategy in place

For a content marketing programme to add value – real prospect-influencing, funnel-assisting value – it needs to be approached with a coherent plan. 

Including the following five musts in your plan will ensure you don't waste time producing content in vain; or, if you'll bear with me, stop you from blogging a dead horse.  

1. Shared and aligned goals

Of course strategic objectives are the top priority; every action stems from here. To align your efforts with the company’s overall goals, at this point it’s a good idea to open up to the wider marketing department and sales team.

Work out whether it's a campaign of retention or acquisition. What will signify it's a success or failure web traffic? A number of leads or enquiries? Sales?  

Now keep these goals front of mind – especially during production: while it’s a good idea to refine them along the way, your objectives should determine the content, not the other way round.  

2. Buyer personas 

With your goals in place, the next step is to work out how you'll go about achieving them. For this you'll need clearly defined segments and evidence-based personas. 

By understanding the type of content different sects of your audience want to consume and where they’re likely to find it, you'll be able to produce more relevant and appealing material. Not only will this approach increase the chances of your content resonating with its audience as individuals, but also give you a head start when it comes to targeted promotion.

3. A plan to repurpose 

Regardless of the size of your budget, ROI is key - and that’s why repurposing should be the cornerstone of every content marketing strategy. Put simply, the act of repurposing content means tailoring a single piece to suit different audiences and channels.

It’s a common mistake to look back for repurposing, but when considered from the outset a single ebook can proliferate a webinar, how to guide, roundtable discussion, infographic, blog and a dozen tweets, each playing a crucial role at a given stage of the funnel. That's how you turn a would-be 80-lead spinner into something more momentous. 

4. Mapped out messages

With repurposing potential in mind, it'll be easier to map out the best messages to use when nurturing your prospect through the funnel. A simplified approach could look something like this:

Top of funnel: Pique prospects' interest with attention-grabbing facts, stats and figures in short-form such as social media posts and blogs (think Daily Mail headlines minus the cynicism).  

Middle: Address challenges prospects are likely to be facing and leak some valuable insight with longer how to guides and case studies. 

Bottom: Provide testimonial-backed examples of your best work to address any lingering reservations your soon-to-be customer might have about your brand.

It's a subtle process: don't jump straight in with what's effectively a user manual to what you're selling. Highly product-focused content doesn’t butter many parsnips with the average punter.  

5. An editorial calendar 

Now tie this all together with an editorial calendar; a content marketer's almanac. Conducted by the team lead, the calendar helps manage the process of all content creation, from social posts to articles, detailing deadlines and ownership. It will ensure what needs to be produced is produced, help focus efforts and increase visibility.  

Be conspicuous about it. Circulate it around the office or put it on the board: there's no reason sales should have a monopoly over wall space.

Strategic Content Marketing

This one-day course will help you upgrade to a strategic value-based approach to content marketing and create outputs that generate real traction. This course is ideal for experienced marketers or senior managers/executives who would like to explore content marketing concepts at a more advanced level.

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Strategic Content Marketing training course