Doing content marketing without a plan is like going on a road trip without a map. Directions, roads and boundaries are needed to navigate as well as benchmarks to measure content’s overall mileage.
A good plan will go further in bringing success to the content marketing effort. This will help you avoid creating ad hoc content that goes nowhere, or worse yet, is not tied to measurable goals.
“It’s not about getting everything created. Without a plan, you’ll execute zero percent of the plan. But with a plan, you’ll likely execute 60-70 percent of the plan. It’s also important to design content strategy against 1) your target audience, and 2) their buyer’s journey. Content created at random rarely hits the mark,” said Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing Inc.
“Content created at random rarely hits the mark,” said Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing Inc.
Do Your Research
Where to begin? The heavy lifting should go into making sure the content has — and serves — a purpose. Groundwork must be laid before the plan is made. If the proper structure isn’t there, the plan will fall apart. Figure out who you are trying to reach and what goals you want to achieve.
In order to craft content aimed at growing the business, the company needs to know more about their customers and potential customers. That requires working with the analytics or research team, gathering market research or conducting a competitive analysis.
“What do [customers] care about? What do they struggle with? What is their status quo related to your solution and what will get them thinking differently and in your direction? It all comes down to customer insight. Write for their situation current and future, and you’re going in the right direction,” Heinz said.
Content marketing that hits a customer at the right point with the right message is everything. If you’re hitting a prospect with a hard sell at time when they’re just at the informational stage, that’s a turn-off.
“Sure, you can execute quickly and nimbly. And occasionally, that will result in content that meets your customers where they are. Too often, however, content created ‘on the fly’ doesn’t resonate with where your customers are, right now, in their buyer’s journey,” he said.
– Sales – Show Me, Don’t Tell Me with Matt Heinz
by This Week In Startups via YouTube
All About the Buyer
“The better you understand the needs and motivations of your customers — related to your solution and more broadly related to their focus areas — the more likely you are to create ‘on the fly’ content that is successful,” he said.
Planning in advance helps your company during a time when you must move quickly in a fluid situation. Think in terms of an emergency management agency (EMA) during hurricane or tornado season. An EMA isn’t a for-profit operation, but the dynamic is the same. After all, if there’s a hurricane coming and emergency management officials need to get the message out to the community, how can you do that without proper planning in place beforehand?
“The better you understand the needs and motivations of your customers — related to your solution and more broadly related to their focus areas — the more likely you are to create ‘on the fly’ content that is successful. But focusing on that customer insight and knowledge is another form of planning, isn’t it?” Heinz said.
The content marketing message isn’t about the company. Rather, it’s about what the company can do for its customers. “It’s all about the buyer. Their needs, their priorities, their objectives and obstacles to success. Start with that, and your content plan will start writing itself,” he said.
Content planning is essential to good content marketing. We talked to experts (including people from Xerox and TIME)…http://t.co/3PhLfkFFV6
— MichaelMND (@MichaelMND) September 30, 2014
What’s the Content Angle?
When it comes to putting together the content plan, think about the approach, angle and how you will present that content. Will it be timely and related to a current event or happening? Will it explain how you solved a customer’s problem? Or will it introduce a new company product or service?
“I believe there are three forms of good content marketing: premeditated, reactive and participatory. Premeditated is what you plan for, based on your customer insights. Reactive is what you develop, based on recent events, filtered by that customer perspective. Participatory is taking advantage of other people’s content to help tell your own story,” he said.
Begin with the goal and craft the content from there. It’s much easier to craft the message around that. “Channels come last. Formats aren’t far behind. Start with messages, themes, topics, outcomes. Start with the message, then determine how it will be delivered,” Heinz said.
Measure, Measure, Measure
Figure out how your business will measure the content so it reaches marketing and company goals.
“It’s hard to develop a good plan without success metrics in mind. How will you know if your content resonated? Impressions? Clickthroughs?” Heinz said. “Tracking eyeballs through to registrations and qualified opportunities? The better you can track a path between content and sales pipeline, the better.”