Content marketing MUST be at the core of your strategy when creating a marketing plan. 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. The quality of your content will be a key determinant of your success. Remember that when writing your marketing plan.
Here are six things to remember when incorporating a content marketing strategy while outlining a marketing plan:
1. Identify objectives before writing a marketing plan – Most people go into content marketing without establishing a benchmark, which makes it difficult to track their shortcomings down the road. By reviewing your company’s marketing goals, you’ll be able to write a marketing plan to align with it. If there is no overall marketing strategy, set one up before attempting to write your own marketing plan. Next, evaluate the competitive landscape and keep track of competitors’ marketing efforts, which should give you a general idea of what you need to improve on.
2. Understand buyers – After you have identified your objectives, it’s time to understand your buyers. This is the most important – and most often missed – step; it allows you to identify your buyer’s specific content consumption preferences. Initially, you want to identify 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. These two steps will help you determine where in the process the content is needed.
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 in your marketing plan, 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.
6. Measure your program – The final stage is measuring your program by managing the content lifecycle. To help measure, you can get feedback from sales to see what is working, what isn’t, and how it can be improved. Another source of measurement is to track your budget, which might include items such as video production, graphic design, webinar speakers, surveys, etc. You can also measure your program by listening and engaging with your customers through social media monitoring (SMM, or social listening).