The business leader's guide to content marketing planning

Content marketing has been around for long enough now that most businesses are practising it in some form. According to a 2015 report on the state of content marketing in Australia, 89% of respondents said they are using content marketing, defined as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action”. Out of this figure however, only 29% believe their content marketing is effective.

The thing is, most business leaders – and even marketers – still don’t know how to develop or implement an effective strategy, and instead choose to employ tactics aimlessly, like writing an occasional blog post or posting on social media. Those companies with a documented content strategy (only 37% in Australia) are far more likely to rate their content marketing as effective.

So, presuming you don’t have a documented content marketing strategy at your organisation, where do you start? Forbes.com contributor Sujan Patel has conveniently written an article on just that, aimed at small business leaders like you. He offers a high level explanation of exactly what you need to include in your content marketing plan, so you can be armed with the information you need to set the strategising wheels in motion. We’ve included his words of wisdom here:

The involved stakeholders

When you write your content marketing plan, be sure to include all major stakeholders – from the individual creatives who will craft your content to the marketing and IT teams that’ll deploy it. Too often, a content marketing plan is developed by a single team or department, while others who need to be involved are not sold on the effectiveness of the effort. When all stakeholders help form the plan, they will be more bought-in and the plan will be executed more successfully.

Your available resources

In addition, you’ll need to make sure that your written content marketing plan is realistic based on the budget and staff available. If you’re only able to commit five hours a week or $1,000 a month to your content marketing campaigns, you shouldn’t create your written plan as if you’re able to dedicate forty hours a week or $10,000 a month.

(Oh, and as an aside, don’t worry if your available resources seem small. It’s possible to do good content marketing on all budgets, as long as you’re upfront about what you can reasonably dedicate to your campaigns.)

If you have the money to commit, but lack the internal staffing resources to carry out your content marketing vision, use this portion of your plan to detail how you’ll outsource your content creation process and where you’ll connect with freelance creators. The more detailed you can be here, the more time you’ll save down the road when it’s time to execute.

Your target channels

Remember that market research you did earlier? This is where you’ll put it into action, using the data you gathered to determine which channels you’ll leverage as part of your campaigns.

Keep in mind, though, that it’s generally better to have fewer content channels with a consistent presence than a lot of channels with an inconsistent presence. When a company doesn’t have a consistent presence, consumers see them as unreliable and unprofessional, which defeats the marketing effort up front.

Your editorial plan

Once you’ve identified the channels where you’ll publish, you’ll want to build out a written editorial plan that includes all of the following elements:

  • The specific titles of the content pieces you’ll publish
  • Which channels they’ll be published on
  • When they’ll be published
  • Who is responsible for creating, editing and/or publishing them
  • Any important steps that need to be taken before publication

Your metrics

Finally, no content marketing plan is complete without a discussion of what you’re trying to achieve through your campaigns. Whether you’re undertaking content marketing to improve your brand’s reputation and perceived authority, or whether you’re trying to use content to drive actual sales and conversions, identify your target metrics, implement the processes needed to track them and set specific goals that’ll help you determine if your campaign is on the right track.

Once you have a written content marketing plan, make sure of your involved stakeholders meet regularly to review progress and ensure that the goals are being met. If things aren’t going as planned, don’t be afraid to update the plan and continue to move forward.

Content marketing is more than just a brand awareness tool – it’s one of the most effective ways to grow your business. Having a documented strategy in place can result in increased website traffic, social media followers, email subscribers, qualified leads, and, yes, even sales. If you follow the steps outlined above, you can’t really go wrong. Head to the Forbes.com site to read the rest of Patel's article, 'How To Start Investing In Content Marketing For Small Business'.

And to learn more about how you can use content to drive real business results, download our complimentary eBook by clicking below.

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Topics: content marketing business leaders