There are no shortcuts, but these steps will help you devise a content marketing plan that actually drives action.
Before you launch your content marketing campaign, you need to define your strategy. Unfortunately, many businesses skip this step, or fail to do it thoroughly. We get it. It’s time-consuming and often challenging, but this upfront work will help you launch more-effective initiatives and even better understand your business.
1. Ensure you’ve defined your purpose
We suggest beginning with a review of your greater mission. What is your goal as a company? This should include why you do what you do for your customer. (So if you just wrote, “Make money,” you’re doing this wrong.) Let’s say your business is a health food store. Your goal may be to increase revenue by reaching a larger client base, but your purpose is to empower people to live healthier lives by making smart and affordable food choices. This audience-facing mission is important to keep in mind as you develop specific content campaigns.
2. Define your content marketing goal
You understand your greater business purpose—but how does content fit in? Will it help you achieve your mission of teaching people healthy eating habits, for example? Include your marketing goals, too. Are you trying to reach new potential customers, drive traffic to your homepage and foster brand loyalty? Be as specific and concrete as possible.
3. Establish your brand voice
It’s cheesy, but one of the easiest ways to start this exercise is by asking, “If our company were a person, what type of person would he or she be?” What are your defining attributes? What tone should you strike? You may have answered these questions when you launched your website or a previous marketing endeavor. If not, there’s no better time than now to tackle them. The answers will inform more than just your content marketing. (Note: Your style may evolve as you produce more content and find your voice. That’s okay, but you’ve got to start somewhere.)
4. Create Audience Personas
Odds are, you know your customers; but have you documented these insights? Create audience personas that include demographic information, as well as their interests and struggles. This last one is key and a Mediaplanet specialty. Whenever we’re exploring a new editorial topic, we conduct extensive problem-and-solution style brainstorms. What challenges are these readers facing? Once you understand your customers’ needs and concerns, delivering relevant, useful content becomes simpler.
5. Make your content plan
Okay, so you know your audience, you know yourself, and you know why content is key to achieving your objectives. Let’s tackle the nitty-gritty. What type of content are you going to create? We suggest including at least the next 12 months in your plan. It’s okay to start small. Perhaps you want to invest in a few sponsored articles and a white paper in Q1 while you get your company blog ready for launch in Q2. Be specific. This is also a good time to think about your editorial calendar. What topics will you be covering? Try to find that place where your marketing objectives and brand persona intersect with your audience’s needs and interests.
6. Define your distribution strategy
This last step is often overlooked. What good is your content if it doesn’t reach the right reader or viewer? How are you going to get your collateral seen by your target group? Perhaps you’ll deploy a social media marketing campaign or leverage Mediaplanet’s reach (just an idea!) —whatever the tactic, make sure you have budgeted accordingly, and that you establish clear metrics for each distribution channel so you can measure your success and learn from your efforts.
Struggling to build out your content marketing plan? Give us a call. We’ll listen to your challenges and figure out if we might have a solution.