Content marketing is involved as part of the decision-making process in both the online marketplace and social media. The content part of this marketing strategy is geared toward videos, blogs, and social media posts. This requires deep planning to consistently deliver valuable and relevant information designed to attract and retain clearly defined customer buyer personas to generate leads. Content marketing doesn’t always explicitly promote your brand, however. The idea behind content marketing is to stimulate interest through inbound marketing and a content strategy that ensures lead generation in the products or services you offer.
Content marketers and a marketing strategy is an excellent tool for converting other businesses and potential customers into clients—and ultimately getting those all-important high-quality leads. Many businesses consume the products and services of other businesses. From the one-person operation right up to international organizations, businesses want a service or product that is, most sensibly, acquired as an offering from another business.
Current research indicates that content marketing is on-track with more and more organizations finding success with a solid content marketing plan and the right people working the case. Many of these companies found it took some time to find success but persistence increased their conversions after the first year or two.
1. Creating a Content Marketing Plan that Works
Good intentions do not make a successful plan. If you have and your marketers have good content ideas, you want to see your ideas developed and you have thoughts about where to promote your content. You must capture this all in a marketing plan that finds buy-in in the important places. It is critically important to your success that you have a comprehensive, documented strategy. Your content marketing plan should answer these questions:
- Which target audience/people are you creating content for?
- What problems are you solving?
- What differentiates your product or service from the competition?
- Which types of media will you use for which target audience/people?
- Where is content published?
- How is the creation and publication process scheduled and managed?
Your content marketing plan is a strategic document. It is much more than a calendar of editorial events. The marketing plan that is based solely on content is the roadmap to a highly successful program. It is critical to have the plan ironed out prior to creating content. You want your plan to educate your organization’s thought leaders on what an effective content marketing program looks like. As a strategic document, your content management plan defines the key aspects of your work: Who are you talking to? What are you trying to say? How are you going to say it? How and where are you going to promote the content? Finally, you also have to give yourself milestones so that you can track your success.
Before you can begin, you need to create a roadmap that indicates what you have on hand and what you’re going to need and when. That’s why, before you do anything, the very first step starts with a content audit. What are you currently producing? Analyze how effective your current crop of offerings are in drawing customers in. Don’t forget to look for the gaps where you could be producing media and exposing yourself to potential customers.
2. Customer Profiles & Personas
Now that you have a catalog of what you have already and you’ve identified gaps in your messaging and promotion. Understanding your audience is a critical piece of your content marketing plan. In fact, understanding your audience is a critical part of product development, service delivery, marketing, and sales. You can start with the outcome of your analysis of your current content. This should give you an idea of who has responded. This can provide part of your customer profile source material. Your sales and marketing teams may have buyer profiles. Kept up-to-date, these profiles help you understand what the market seeks that you can provide. Encourage collaboration between your departments. In engineering, you might find profiles used to guide the user experience with the product. In both marketing and sales you might find buyer personas, which help round out the profiles used when choosing your content marketing content.
Your sales team has another resource rich with possibilities. Ask your team about their regular customers and prospective customers, the people they’re interacting with on a regular basis. Are these prospective customers communicating problems in their organization or their industry? Record their ideas in the role your product or service plays in solving problems for them.
Creating a content marketing plan can help break down the information silos in your organization.
3. Curating your Content
With your target audience defined, review the content inventory you’ve completed and decide the following about your current offerings:
- What message does the content convey?
- Which audience is this content targeted toward?
- What made this content successful?
- Are we delivering the right message, in the right venue, for the right audience?
4. Action and Reactions
Determine the purpose of your proposed strategy. What do you want the consumer of the content to do with it? There are numerous possibilities. You want your idea to float to the top creating awareness in the marketplace. With this strategy, you seek to discuss a problem your prospective clients share. Reveal how products or services, like yours, resolve the issue. Likely, you’ll want conversions and sales. For this strategy, you’ll want to include information that shows them new ways (such as your product) to solve that problem. If this is a part of your plan, you’ll need to ensure your content is educational and focus each piece on specific benefits of the product or service.
5. Managing the Cycle
Among the strategies in your content marketing plan, you need to capture the tools and methods for the system used to manage high-quality content. You’ll need the tools, people, and process captured. Your content management plans should include information on what content will be created, who is creating it, when they’re creating it, when and where it is to be published, and whatever system you use, it must provide content analytics. Without content analytics, it becomes increasingly difficult to determine where and how you are succeeding.
6. Self-Promotion without a Brand
With a strong plan in place, you can brainstorm content ideas and have a firm platform upon which to evaluate the ideas. High-quality content marketing provides the background, scope, and potential for your product or service. This is a completely separate exercise from branding where you want to flourish the flag.