This week I’ve been allotted the somewhat daunting task of creating a content marketing plan to span the 12 months going forward. As a digital
marketer I love playing with social media and other delivery channels, but let’s be honest:
Content is the life and soul of the party.
Without content, I’d be left with an amazing digital marketing communications infrastructure that went completely unused! And with content being such top priority, it is not surprising that any company would want a well-researched, thoughtfully constructed content marketing plan.
While constructing a content marketing plan is not an easy task, I would say it’s so far been a rewarding one – you very quickly realise potential marketing opportunities and gaps simply by analysing the content you do have and brainstorming from there.
Getting started on your content marketing plan: Spare me the templates
One “content marketing template” site promised me that if I answered their quick 100 questions, they’d produce me a 41 page content marketing plan tailored specifically for my needs. Amazing! What ever next?
This was only one example of the many content marketing templates or questionnaires out there that made me stop and think:
Surely you should be able to just sit down, do an analysis of what you’ve got and speak to intelligent people at your company to see what the relevant topics may be and then decide how they should exist as content, and what digital channels are best for delivery?
The good old tools: Pen & paper and then Excel
I’ll admit it: as usual, I got tempted by fancy technology and tried to jump start the whole process by playing around with mindmapping tools and a few flowchart programs I’ve wanted to try for awhile. I saw what was happening and applied my “fail quickly” logic to pry myself away from these programs – I was spending too much time arranging things on the screen which was interfering with the rapid succession of ideas that I had to keep scrawling down on a notepad beside my keyboard. It was then that it hit me: get back to basics and put pen to paper.
As is often the case, my “pen to paper” excercise ended with me putting many of my ideas into an Excel spreadsheet (that I am calling my “content marketing matrix”) that I am still working on. When in doubt, a spreadsheet is likely your best tool for beginning any marketing plan.
What I Learned this Time Around
I’ll be brief:
- If you are confused about where to start, consider your content distribution methods. It doesn’t matter if you send your campaigns from a CRM or a Marketing Automation program or if you intend to use Twitter or LinkedIn. Regardless of the channel, you should think about who will be receiving the marketing and this should cause you to consider new pieces of content and also how segmented your plan needs to be. What groups live in your database? Do they want different pieces of content?
- Further to the previous point, what regions should you be considering? Are there specific pieces of content you should be developing for specific regions?
- What are your competitors writing about? How are they distributing it? It may sound lazy, but it’s a quick way of augmenting your list and making sure you’re not missing out on anything.
- Mapping campaigns – I’ve talked about putting pen to paper and using spreadsheets, but at some point you’re going to want a visual representation of how campaigns will flow – especially if you’re using Marketing Automation. This is probably where all the fancy mindmapping and flowchart tools come in, or maybe it’s a chance to use Prezi to really impress. I won’t be sharing my final content marketing plan, but I will definitely let you know my thoughts on mapping it all out visually in Part II of this series.