Creating a High-Impact Content Marketing Strategy: 1 of 5
Nowhere is the truism “plan your work, and work your plan” more valuable than in the discipline of content marketing. It is crucial to establish an overarching content management strategy upfront in terms of messaging and goals.
But where the rubber truly meets the road is in the creation of a manageable content marketing calendar. This is where you set up the consistent, strategic chain of activities that will eliminate indecision from the crucial daily process of writing and production. This enables your content management team to focus on the development of impactful and relevant content, while looking to refine your calendar based on the elements that are working best.
Here’s an initial set of big-picture step to get you on your way:
Inventory your existing material for an initial brainstorm.
While you don’t want to use a blatant sales-focused approach for your content marketing program, your existing sales pieces are a great foundation for kick-starting the process. Are there pieces that could be converted to a series of blogposts with fairly minimal editing? Are there others that would lend themselves to being repurposed as a video or an infographic? This initial stage is the time to really open up the possibilities.
Identify key prospect personas and behaviors.
What types of content are your key prospects most likely to consume — and what channels are they most likely to access? Are they likely to read blogs in between assignments? Watch a quick and illustrative video on the spur of the moment? Set aside some time to review a white paper? Listen to a podcast while commuting? The more you can find out their habits and preferences, the better chance you have of designing a content calendar that dovetails with their daily agendas.
Transform customer pain points into pillars of content.
Content marketing is about creating a consistent, ongoing flow of information that communicates your brand story and key differentiators in a relevant and engaging way. So once you’ve identified the personas and behaviors of your key prospects, the next step is to answer their needs and pain points with the differentiating expertise your company has to offer.
Map specific content to appropriate stages in your sales cycle.
The process of engaging prospects via content marketing is not unlike the logical sequencing of information you use for in-person sales. Once you’ve prioritized the pieces/topics to develops, map these pieces to the most logical points in your calendar chronology.
For instance, you could use brief blogposts and videos to generate initial inquiries and engagement. Your call-to-action could include a timely link to subscribe to an e-newsletter. These initial forays could be followed up with opt-in email offering a white papers or e-book for people who are showing interest and continuing to engage.
Other common factors that may drive your scheduling logic are seasonal trends that affect your business, the desire to create traffic for an upcoming tradeshow, or the need to create some buzz for a new product launch.
Build a flexible framework for interaction and improvement.
As with all business development processes, the biggest thing about setting up a content marketing calendar is to start using it. All you really need to get going is a simple Excel or Google spreadsheet, which you can continue to augment and refine as the content marketing effort evolves. Here are some key fields to include in your initial calendar structure:
- Date for Publication or Reuse
- Content Title/Topic
- Format (i.e. blogpost, video, white paper, webinar, etc.)
- Desired Action (by prospect)
- Distribution Channel (i.e. blog, LinkedIn, landing page, Twitter)
- Status Dates ( i.e. Draft Due, Under Review, Revision Due, Approved, Scheduled)