With content marketing on the rise, it's important that you define a couple key items before you jump in to creating all that quality content. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 73% of B2B marketers are producing more content that they did a year ago, but only 44% of marketers have a documented content strategy (Tweet this stat). Don't miss out on the true value of content marketing by going in blind, and if you've already started without a plan, there is no better time than now to take a step back and work on launching your content marketing success in the right direction. Here are 5 must-answer questions when establishing your content marketing plan:
1. What are your business goals?
Before you start working on a content marketing plan, you absolutely must define what goals you want to reach with all your new content. This is great to relate back to your company’s business goals and for ensuring that you can justify the cost of content marketing to executives (even though the cost is 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about 3 times as many leads, according to DemandMetric). This is also a great practice to ensure that you maintain focus on what the end goal is while creating the content. Planning and defining SMART goals before you begin creating content is essential to ensure that your efforts are on track and focused in the long term.
2. Who is your audience?
After you have defined your goals and the reason why your content marketing plan exists, be sure to define who exactly you are trying to reach with your content. This will help you to create useful and relevant content for your buyer personas. If you haven't defined your buyer personas, check out this buyer persona tip sheet to get started. Defining your buyer personas will help with creating content ideas later in the process and keep everyone who is contributing to content focused on the audience. The overall goal of content marketing and all marketing efforts is to provide value for your audience, attract new leads, and educate them on your expertise in order to solve their problems. Having your personas defined and in a place where all contributors can access this information is key to a successful content marketing plan and execution.
3. What content do you already have?
This question at first glance may seem silly. You obviously know what content you already have, right? Running a content audit and assessing your current content may seem like a time suck at first, but I am living proof that this method can help you in many ways. I have written on this topic before, but it deserves reiteration. Running an audit of your current content is vital for making sure you are truly aware of what you currently have on your site, and it also aids you in analyzing which personas you are catering to and which formats of content you have provided, giving you a clear picture of your entire content library. This process has proved useful for us in the past and is an essential step that needs to be taken before planning a content marketing strategy. This is not only essential for understanding your current content strengths, but even more so to see what content you may be missing.
4. What other content types do you need?
After performing a content audit, you will be well on your way to defining which content types you are missing. You might find that you have a lot of blogs and not very many ebooks, or that your content is catering to one persona more than another. This will help provide a clear understanding of what content needs to come next in order to reach those goals you defined earlier in this process. Make sure you are not only filling in content types and persona gaps, but also any missing stages of the buyer's journey as well. After all, the whole point of creating all this content is to provide value for your audience. You can learn more about the stages of the buyer's journey and creating content for them in these other blogs I have written:
- How the Buyer Cycle Affects Strategy Planning
- How Do I Create Content for Different Stages of the Buyer Cycle?
5. What is your timeline?
I like to know the expected publishing timeline before I sit down and create a content marketing plan. In the name of creating SMART goals, I believe that the sooner this is defined, the better off everyone is. You must consider the content resources you have in order to reach these goals and prioritize your content needs. This is always the hard part for me, because I tend to want to tackle it all at once. Don’t make this mistake; you’re certain to encounter delays or roadblocks in your content creation process, and creating overly aggressive goals without the necessary resources will lead to more harm than good in the long run.
By this point you should have all the pieces to build the border of the content marketing puzzle. Next time we will build on that and tackle the actual puzzle!
These 5 questions are the bare minimum of what must be answered before you start planning out your content marketing strategy. Have you found other aspects that are vital when creating your content marketing plan? Please let me know in the comments below, or contact us if you want to speak to a content marketing expert and learn more about how we can help you define your content strategy. Stay tuned for another blog post coming soon on how to create an aligned content marketing plan. If you don’t want to miss out on any new WSOL blogs, subscribe here to receive a weekly email.