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Thursday, June 23, 2016

The 7 Essential Steps to a Solid Content Marketing Plan



When you set out to define something, it’s easy to assume that everyone you’re talking to is on the same page. With content marketing, there is a lot of talk about how and why and not as much about what it actually is. So, I’ve defined the purpose behind it and given you some ideas about the homework you need to do before you start and today, I want to begin sharing a blueprint for building rock solid content marketing!



Everyone needs a roadmap

While this process could be built from point A to point B, it’s more like a lot of locations you need to visit in order to complete your mission, many of which are interchangeable in the order you do them. For instance, there is no reason you cannot create your editorial calendar first, then fill in the details, and obviously you need some definition of your audience before starting any of this. 

So, here, in no particular order are the seven things you’ll need to build in order to launch a profitable content marketing campaign. In my next posts we’ll break these down further so we can get inside and look around, but for now, here are the basics. 

·       Build a Home Base: This is typically a website, but in content marketing, I prefer to specifically focus on a blog, whether as part of a larger site, or you whole base of operation. 

o   This is the only piece of real estate you really own online and you get to set the rules, unlike email platforms, social media, etc, where things can change quickly
o   You brand your home base to speak directly to your ideal audience, no one else gets to limit your creativity or mute your voice
o   In addition to a “journey’s end” for your audience to find and engage with your content, you can sell directly from this platform

·       Define your audience: This one kind of explains itself, but you need to know who your ideal customer is and where to find them in order to reach them effectively. 

o   Learn as much about your ideal customer as possible and integrate it into your content marketing
o   When you first get started, finding out about your customer is going to play a role in your content as well, the two go hand in hand
o   A well defined audience consumes your content, buys your goods and services and transforms into brand evangelists that bring you new clients

·       Find Your Sources: This may not seem like a “channel” to some, but you need good, regular sources of information about your industry and audience to feed into your content.

o   Start with those who are successful in your industry. Quote them, or follow links to their sources and do your own thing.
o   Set up some tools, like Google alerts to help you keep up to date on information that will interest your target audience
o   Learn to curate. By sharing content direct from your sources, you can build your own authority and double up on your content, since you don’t have to invent it all 

·       Create Your editorial calendar: This may be an actual calendar, or just a checklist of what content you will be sharing when.

o   The more detailed your calendar is, the less work you’ll have organizing content later. Integrate this with some automation tools to make it even more powerful.
o   This tool also allows you to keep the right balance between curating other’s content and creating your own unique content
o   Remember, you invented it, so you can make changes as needed. Concrete is for sidewalks and digital calendars are anything but difficult to edit

·       Set up Your broadcast network: This is how you share your content. The places you place links to your blog and the like. It also includes automation and syndication tools. 

o   Make as much of your content sharing automatic as possible. This can included tools like IFTTT and social media automation
o   Share every piece of content as many ways as you can. You never know when a single connection will cause content to go viral
o   Be consistent in your broadcasting. Use a checklist for things you can’t automate to make sure each piece of content gets maximum exposure 

·       Choose Your channels: Where you share your content, starting from your home base and branching out into social media and more. 

o   There are literally thousands of social media, blogging and media sharing platforms. Take your time and research a variety of them, you might find one that is perfect.
o   Choose your channels based on your audience’s participation, not only your own likes and dislikes. You have to put your content in front of them to get them engaged.
o   Channels that provide lots of active participation are best, the key to a good content marketing channel is that a good conversation magnifies your content

·       Nurture your feedback mechanism: How you engage your audience in the conversation. It’s not enough to get them to consume your content, you have to give them a way to respond, then engage them in conversation. 

o   Start with a monitoring strategy. You need to be aware when your audience is talking to you.
o   Use notifications and email alerts to make the most of your time, without hanging out on social media and your blog all day.
o   Reply in a conversational tone and use questions to further the conversation. The more your audience contributes, the better, it builds ownership for them and draws attention

·       Establish your measurement methodology: This is where a lot of plans fall flat. Producing content is only step one. Once your content is out in the world, you need a way to determine what’s working to impact your audience, and what needs tweaking. 

o   Don’t fall to the temptation to skip this step. It may not seem that important, but if you don’t know what’s working, you’re shooting at a moving target.
o   You not only need to know the stats on your content marketing engagement, but which ones are leading to sales.
o   When you figure out what works, use it. Remember, it’s not about you, it’s about your audience, and what you want them to respond to may not be what they actually respond to. 

So, there are some basics and we’ll dive deeper into each of these topics over the next posts. I hope this is helpful. If you need help with your content marketing, as always, contact me. Share my content freely, but please give me credit and be sure to leave a link. Thanks!


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