#1 Rule of Content Marketing Plans – Always, always ask: What kind of content does YOUR audience even want?!
Then, take ideas and research answers to that question and work it into your plan, into all your content, into your persona development (for your target), into your promotion – everything centers on that question.
7 Parts of a Sound Content Marketing Plan
How do your content goals dovetail with your larger organization goals?
What are the objectives for your content? Overall and at least an idea behind each piece of content – where does it fit, what are you trying to accomplish, what needle are hoping to move?
56% of businesses are doing CM without a clear strategy – recent European stats, but US research from CMI points to similar picture- for b2bs and for nonprofits.
They recognize the power of content marketing, but still don't have a plan!
So just because you’re a small business, or a nonprofit (like a library) don’t skip the planning stages and especially not the strategy step.
It's not ‘do as the big guys are doing’ – because they’re wrong! Get ahead of the curve and your competition, large or small, by creating a strategy before doing.
Who are you talking to in your content? What language, style do they use and prefer
I.e. There's a big difference in talking to urban teens vs rural teens, vs older adults, vs. small business owners (and is that small business a solopreneur or micro-business, a retailer or service provider, or a small firm with 20 employees?)
Schedules, Calendars, Planners, Timelines –you need tools to help you keep your content on track, as well as to track who's doing what.
Another thought with scheduling – do you have themes or topics to run throughout a content ‘campaign’? Your content will go further and do more for you if you can group it into relevant themes. It will also help you to come up with ideas that appeal to your audience. It keeps you from asking every week, ‘what will I talk about?'
What to think about for topics/themes in your content plan:
o key topics or questions for your audience- what they want to read or hear about
o what topics will best build your reputation and authority
o KWs – still useful to do KW research, as best you can, to learn what your audience searches for on topics you can write about
o Foundational themes – consider a theme for a month, do 1 chunk of that each week; or maybe 2 chunks per month
o Add in the curated content to your own – don't forget to schedule it in, put it in your planner/timeline
o Build all your online efforts around those themes that month – blog, email, SM
Think about the best times for various channels as well – is your audience working professionals who most frequently check Twitter at night? Then post in the evening, not at 8am. Is your target a working mom who likes Pinterest? Maybe try 4pm, or after the kids are in bed, 10:30pm?
Look for the research or tools that exist on the preferences and recommendations for various channels and audiences.
Ok, what platform(s) do you use? What will you put there? How will you let people know and get them to come to the content? Or are you sending it out to them? That's where the tactics come in to play in your plan.
Now is when you think about, and put down choices on paper (or your spreadsheet), for the formats, types and platforms for your content.
Visual or audio? If predominantly visual, does that mean infographics, images for Pinterest and Facebook sharing, or short videos? Written – blogs, articles, e-books and/or email newsletters?
Are you sharing and hosting everything on your website's blog? Are you creating a Tumblr? Will you be promoting your content primarily via Twitter, or LinkedIn, SlideShare or Vimeo?
It's a lot to think about – and we'll hit on all the big tactical ideas as we go along. But for now – think first and foremost about your audience and y our goals. Who is this content for? Where do they hang out? Where will they find/see it? What types do they most want and like?
Metrics, analytics –
Do you know what’s working and what isn’t? That's what metrics are for – measure what you're doing so you know if you keep it up, or change course.
o Get a Google Analytics account – everyone probably needs one these days
o Also get the simple measuring tools that are part of common blog/web plugins (like Jetpack for WP)
o Test – test everything you can- on your site, in email, landing pages, on social media, etc
o Use other tools to help you monitor metrics, analytics
Content Marketing doesn’t necessarily pay off in 1 week, or 2 or even a month. And you'll need to revise your content marketing plan a few times along the way – in fact, plan on it! Schedule time to review and revise every quarter, and again at the end of the year.