How to Create a Fantastic Content Marketing Plan

We’ve written before about how important content marketing strategies are to sell and promote your brand online.  Now let’s start envisioning what the word “content” will look like for your business and the best ways to create and share it.

Don’t Just “Do” It

Marketers are always on the lookout for the latest trends in the industry to keep up with their competition. When your competitor uses content like blog posts and infographics to sell online, naturally you may want to just “do” it too.

Please, don’t.

First, take the time to develop a content marketing plan that outlines what “doing content marketing” looks like for your business. It can certainly include things like blog posts, infographics, and white papers; but in a strategic way that will be more effective than just throwing up a blog post online because your competitor did the same thing.

Kissmetrics, a well-respected blog about analytics, marketing, and testing, said it best in their blog post about creating content:

“Writing great content is a choice. You can choose to put in the time and work required to create great content and build a prosperous brand. Or you can choose to take the easy path and write poor content—a path that ultimately will get you nowhere. It will only result in a waste of time, energy and resources.”

Remember, this is more than just creating content so you have something to share on social media; your carefully crafted content tells the world who you are and why you matter. Do you think a poorly written blog post will help sell your business? Of course not! A content marketing strategy will though, so…

Let’s Begin Creating Your Content Marketing Plan

Like any great coach getting their players ready for the big game, you must assemble a content marketing team to help form a solid foundation for your content marketing plan.

These are the people most familiar with your brand and the needs of your customers like your marketing, sales, and PR team. You also need on the team your creative staff like writers and graphic designers, and your technical staff, IT professionals and social media experts, who can help you better understand how your vision will translate into a workflow.

Here is where it can get a bit tricky.

You see, many people get bogged down in the process of creating marketing content because they get caught up in its definition. While you should take the time to assemble your team and devise a plan and reasonable work flow expectations, you also need to trust the marketing foundation you have established already.

You have already done your homework; you have the buyer personas and marketing messages established for your brand. Now think about how they fit.

Marketing content is constantly evolving as businesses find unique ways to talk to their customers online, so add to this list white papers, online magazines and books, Facebook “Live,” animated explainer videos, video tutorials, infographics, podcasts…

You get the point. There are so many different forms of content, it would naïve to start working on all of them simultaneously, and it would exhaust your resources.

Instead, pick three. Choose the first three content marketing priorities and begin formulating a plan for each project separately while keeping the tone, look, and feel of your content the same.

Content Creation in Practice

When most businesses first begin to use content, they typically start with a blog, email marketing newsletters, and website narrative development or update.
Let’s assume you have done the same and you need to learn more about best practices regarding each piece of content:

Blogs

Think of blogs as a daily conversation with your customers. You can tell them about your latest products or services, share a feel-good story about how your business made a difference in your community, or just forward along some useful information you know they would appreciate.

Blogs are an ideal way to showcase the personality of your brand, and creating original content and sharing it regularly on social media will keep your brand at the top of their mind.

Before you start posting, create a blog schedule. Plan it out first.

It is so important to plan your posts to ensure they serve a purpose and align with your current marketing messaging, as well as contain the necessary keywords. It’s also a great tool to assign responsibilities to ensure timely posting.

Email Marketing Newsletters

Email newsletters help to keep your customer engaged long after the sale. It doesn’t have to be overly complicated or time-consuming to create a newsletter thanks to online marketing tools like Constant Contact that offer customisable templates.

Here are a few tips before you begin designing yours:

  1. Just like a blog, you need original content that is engaging. Ideally, this content should be sequential, like a four-part series on how to create a killer content plan, which helps retain the interest of the reader because they perceive the information as valuable.
  2. Make sure the tone, appearance, and overall feel of your newsletter mirror existing marketing materials and other content marketing initiatives.
  3. It’s best to stick to the same format for each newsletter; for example, each edition can include a feature and two smaller stories followed by a list of resources.
  4. Customers will begin to expect your newsletter so make sure not to disappoint by sending one regularly and make sure to promote it on social media each time you do.
  5. This is your time to shine! Get creative by adding videos, entertaining infographics, or animation to your newsletter to make it stand out from the masses.
  6. Always monitor your competition to find out what they include in their email newsletters and most importantly, ask your customers what they want to hear about in the next edition.

Website Narrative

When was the last time you updated the content on your website?

As a business owner, you want to make sure the information on your website is current, correct, and accurately represents your brand.

A website content audit is the best way to begin your content marketing plan because it shows where you currently stand as a content marketer, and how you need to improve.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself during your audit:

  • Is the contact information including addresses of location(s) and phone numbers correct?
  • Does my site accurately depict what I sell and why it matters?
  • Are there any grammatical errors on the site?
  • If my staff is listed, do they all still work for me? Is there anyone to add?
  • Are the pictures on my site outdated or irrelevant?
  • Is my site easy to navigate?

Ensuring your website is current and correct is essential when investing into content marketing. After all, the purpose of marketing content is to create interest in your brand, so they visit your website so you want to make sure your site makes a great first impression.

For businesses in 2017 and beyond, it’s all about content marketing. Content will continue to serve you well as you serve your customers. What do you have to say to them? A content marketing plan will convert that interest into sales when used strategically. Use these tips to begin creating your plan today.

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