At long last, I’ve got a draft of my content marketing plan! Read part I of this post to see how I started out.
It’s been a challenging and rewarding exercise that has not only highlighted the significance of business elements such as geography, but also the importance of both themes central to the business and the stages of sales/buying cycle.
However most importantly, this exercise has taught me that what I’ve got now really is a draft and not the final content marketing plan. This is because in this instance, I need input from across the organisation. I’ve developed and applied a strategy to creating a content marketing plan and I’ve developed a structure that I’ve dropped ideas into.
However now it’s time for review by my colleagues, and I fully expect the plan to grow with further ideas for great content. In my opinion, as long as you’ve got a solid strategy and structure backing your plan up, it should stand up to review and should be able to accommodate a whole range of new ideas for content.
In the end, my content marketing plan ended up existing as three files:
I learned so much as I went through this exercise, I had to write it all down.
Some of it went into this blog post, and the rest went into a summary which defines not only the different types of content I refer to throughout the plan (everything from blog posts, to research papers to webinars), but also the gap analysis I naturally began to do when thinking about what content the organisation might need.
What else does the summary contain? Importantly, the summary defines what I’d like to call the “pillars” of my content marketing plan. I realised early on during the brainstorming phase that the plan would not work without a central element that held it up and that everything else would be based on.
My pillars turned out to be geographical regions, but yours could just as easily be stages in the buying cycle (this to me would be an obvious one pertinent to many businesses as you can map content to various stages in the buying cycle). Other businesses may find that their pillars are the various industry events that they attend each year and develop content for. It will be different for every business.
Lastly, my summary outlines what I call “themes”. These are simply topics the organisation finds itself coming back to again and again and writing about across a wide variety of delivery channels. You can’t ignore your themes and should ensure your content marketing plan addresses them. They will be easy to identify when you ask yourself the following questions: What issues are important to my product? What do I need to be an expert on?
You may end up realising that your themes are so important they must act as the pillars of your content marketing plan.
My Content Marketing Matrix
My “matrix” is an Excel spreadsheet with rows specifying content type/delivery channel and columns which provide essential information about each row. For example, for each type of content I define attributes including author, region and proposed delivery date. Your attributes will be different and more relevant to your business.
*Note that because my content marketing matrix includes a delivery date column, it also functions as an editorial calendar. And because the matrix exists in Excel, I can “sort” on this column which is helpful in viewing a content delivery schedule for the year ahead. These dates could be put in to a shared marketing Outlook calendar with alerts attached in order to focus on transparency and scheduling.
My Content Relationship Models
Once I’d explained myself via my summary and put actual content ideas into my matrix, I realised I needed a further Excel spreadsheet to show the relationships between various bits of extremely valuable content.
A simple example of this would be showing the relationship between industry events and the various bits of collateral you need for them.
A more extensive example would be mapping out various marketing campaigns for geographical regions and showing how one piece of content can build on another – for example, people who read a blog post about a white paper and then download that white paper may also get later get asked to participate in a research survey or event. It’s useful to do these mappings for content that is particularly important to you.
I’m looking forward to getting feedback on my plan and watching the ideas for new content grow. I hope you’ve found this blog post and part I helpful, and good luck in developing your own plan!