Five Essential Questions to Guide Your Content Marketing Plan
“A goal without a plan is a wish.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
We’ve chatted with so many clients about this over the years – having a content plan in place as part of your business or organization’s marketing strategy is critical. It’s no longer enough to approach your social media, blogging, videos, and email content through a “we’ll get to it if we get to it, and when we do get to it, we’ll figure something out then” lens. You need to have a plan.
Here are five questions you need to ask as you’re building out your content marketing plan…
What’s your mix?
The first thing to explore is where your audience is consuming content. Are they listening to podcasts, or reading blogs? Are they active on social, and if they are, which platforms are they engaged in? Are they spending time on sites like Medium or Reddit? Do they consume content on sites like YouTube, or are they taking in online webinars? Don’t know the answer to this? Spend some time reaching out and asking your audience where they’re finding the most value and spending the most time. That will help you define the sandbox you’re playing in and eliminate the daunting need to produce content everywhere.
How much and how often?
This question is something we get asked all the time – how much is too much, and how little is too little? The reality is, it is very rare that any client is creating as much content as they could be or should be. Many factors contribute to this – everything from budget constraints to a simple lack of time. On the flip-side, we all know that over-aggressive email campaigns can lead to unsubscribes. So, what’s the right response when it comes to how much and how often? This question is answered principally by the quality of the content you’re sharing. As part of your audience, if I believe your content is valuable, for example, educational or entertaining, I’ll pay attention to as much as you give me.
What are our topics?
That leads us to one of the most important questions you will answer: What kind of content is your audience interested in consuming? As we hinted at above, are they craving content that is educational, or do they want to be entertained? Do they want news on the latest industry trends or insights from you as a thought-leader? In almost every case, your audience is looking for a mix of content, not just one specific type. With that in mind, it’s important to map out for every month how you will deliver a stream of content that speaks to their diverse wants. For example, on Tuesdays, we’re going to share something educational, Thursdays will be reserved for thought-leader content, and Saturdays will focus on entertaining our audience. Sharing a mixed assortment of content will help you meet your audience where they’re at, hold their interest, and build their anticipation for more.
How will it get produced?
As we shared when we talked about how much and how often, one of the primary considerations in any content plan has to be how the content will be produced. Again, budgets, staffing, time, and partners are all part of this conversation. When it comes to creating content, your goals have to be realistic and in-line with all the other work you’re doing every day. If you set starry-eyed goals for how much material you will share, you’ll either miss the mark or create low-quality content that is not valuable to your audience. Either way, you lose. Having a strategy for how you’ll create quality content is an essential part of your plan.
Where will it get shared?
This question brings us full-circle, back to where we started. If we know we’re going to produce a blog and some webinars, then we need to have a plan for how people are going to find them. In this example, we can use our social platforms and email marketing to help drive traffic to the blog posts and webinars. You’ve probably noticed that this is one of our key strategies for making sure you find our Insights blog. Having a strategy for how you’ll help your audience find your content is the last and most important part of the plan. As we say when we’re having conversations about SEO on the website side of our business, “If we build it, they will come” only worked in the movie Field of Dreams.
Bonus Question: Now what?
The answers to these questions are powerful, but the final step is to create a calendar for the coming month, quarter, or year. Based on your answers to our first five questions, start to map out what this looks like based on specific dates, and begin assigning accountabilities to ensure the prep work needed is getting done. There are some fantastic tools out there, like Hootsuite, that can help streamline this process and carry some of the heavy burden associated with producing a steady stream of content.
Today, as things are starting to reopen and reset, your content plan is more important than ever. Set some time aside to sit down and start answering these questions. Pull in your team for some help and reach out to your customers and clients for their feedback as well. Pick one or two areas where you see the most potential and start producing content in those spaces. Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint, so stick with it and once you start, keep going!
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