Content marketing is the new "buzz" of today, and for good reason – it works. According to a recent study, about 70-80% of buyer decisions are made before the prospect ever talks to your sales team. Most prospects will look to your website for all the information they need to make an informed purchase decision. It's therefore critical to make content marketing the core of your marketing plan.
Below are some important things to remember while you define your marketing plan objectives.
1. Identify content objectives – Most people begin a discussion about content objectives without establishing a benchmark, which often makes it difficult to measure and report progress down the road. Do your best to align these objectives, as well as your overall marketing plan objectives, with corporate goals. Next, evaluate the competitive landscape to understand competitors' marketing efforts. This will point you to areas where you need, at a minimum, to achieve competitive parity.
2. Understand buyers – After you have identified your content objectives, it's time to understand your buyers. This is the most important – and most often missed – step, which allows you to identify your buyer's specific content consumption preferences. You need to define buyer personas and specifically target them in your writing. Next, you should define the buying process stages by documenting buyers' questions and influencers, and then begin crafting key messages.
3. Identify gaps – Use this stage to inventory your existing content and to determine what is missing. There's no need to worry about producing content in this stage; just focus on determining what content is still needed. To identify gaps, you'll need detailed research and analysis, during which you should perform the following steps:
- List existing content marketing assets
- Identify content by stage
- Identify content by persona
- Identify gaps in content
4. Build content – After you have determined the gaps in your content marketing efforts, it's time to fill them in. These are 11 steps you will need to take in order to build your content:
- Generate ideas for content
- Identify key messages
- Outline standards
- Ensure consistency
- Use target keywords
- Build a roster of contributors
- Identify a workflow
- Repurpose content
- Build content… then build more content
- Test your content
- Evaluate your case like a judge
5. Organize distribution – At this point, you've done all the hard work and now it's time to organize distribution of your content. In order to do this, you'll need to conduct a few activities, including; selecting the right channels, facilitating social sharing, building landing pages, mapping your content, and creating an editorial calendar. The editorial calendar should be your plan for the entire year, or at least one month. Here's a content marketing editorial calendar template you can download and use.
6. Measure your program – The final stage is measuring your marketing plan objectives by collecting and analyzing metrics. To help measure, you can get feedback from sales to see what is working, what isn't, and how can it be improved. Another source of measurement is tracking your overall budget. You can also measure your program by listening and engaging with your customers through social media monitoring (SMM, or social listening).
By following this six-step content marketing methodology, you should be able to define a great set of marketing plan objectives.