Think Your Content Marketing Plan's Finished? Think Again
I call the content marketing planning process “swallowing the elephant.” It takes several months to do it right, and the work is detailed, grueling, and all-consuming – so much so that it’s easy to forget that the end of that process is just the beginning of your execution phase.
So here’s what often happens: The blessed day comes when you actually have a final, approved plan. And before you’re even halfway through your happy dance, you realize you have no bloody idea what to do next.
That happens a lot. And I get it. But I can’t forgive it. Because the truth is that your top priorities and action steps need to be part of the plan itself. If you don’t have them, then your plan is not finished.
If you’re at (or nearing) the end of the planning process now, there are a few more elements you need to consider. If you don’t have a plan, you’re not off the hook – now’s the time to get started so you have a plan in place for 2017.
Either way, before you stamp “done” on your content marketing plan, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Where on your site will you put your content?
If you don’t have a blog already on your site, you’ll need one built before you can publish any blog posts. If you’re planning anchor content like an eBook, do you have a resources page or some other logical spot for that content to live long-term? If you don’t already have those things, contact your web developer to get them underway.
2. What other parts of your site need to be refreshed or rewritten?
Now is probably not the time for a full-scale site redesign, but if there are crucial pages that need refreshing – say, with better images or crisper writing – now is definitely the time to get that done. Start with your home page, your About Us pages, and your Products and Services pages.
3. Have you identified pieces of collateral that also need refreshing (or need to be created)?
Whether it’s a piece of sales collateral, a PowerPoint deck, a brochure, or something else, this is a good time to start defining what collateral you need to create or refresh, and what you need for each one.
4. Who will write your content?
If you expect to use a professional to ghostwrite content for you (and please do), have you identified who your writer will be? Hopefully, you made finding a good writer part of your planning tasks and engaged that writer in some aspect of your planning process. Your writer should understand your industry and your company’s place within it. He or she should know what makes you unique. With that knowledge, and with experience in your subject matter, a good writer can be invaluable in topic ideation. Sure, you know your industry best, but an experienced writer will have insight into what your audience wants to read.
5. Have you scheduled an editorial meeting with your colleagues yet?
The purpose of this meeting is to clarify what topics you’ll do in what order, and, assuming you’ll use subject matter experts (SMEs) to help your writer get them done, to assign an SME to each topic. You’ll also want to be clear with your SMEs on what you expect them to do, whether it’s make themselves available for an interview, draft an outline from which a writer can work, review copy, or all of the above. If you can get all of them together at once, that’s a great opportunity to explain the process and answer their questions.
6. What’s your editorial calendar look like?
Wait… you do have a calendar, right? Great.
After your editorial meeting, you’ll be able to assign topics, with SMEs, to specific dates. Just make sure your calendar includes reasonable deadlines for every step that you need to take to move a piece of content from idea to reality. And make sure it includes all the content you plan to do – every blog post, infographic, eBook, you name it. Don’t have a calendar yet? Get started now.
7. What about your company newsletter and social media properties?
These are crucial to driving eyeballs to your content. Make sure you’ve decided on a newsletter template, and include your newsletter send dates in your editorial calendar. Make sure your email database is fairly robust, too; you won’t accomplish much with content without an audience to consume it. Ensure your social media properties are set up properly and that language and imagery corresponds with what you’re putting on your site.
Your content marketing plan is just that – a plan. It’s crucial to have a good plan, or your efforts will almost surely fail.