Once this high level framework is in place it is time to then proceed to decompose it down into detailed plans, which will deliver your objectives.
Strategy and detailed plans are what is missing from the vast majority of small businesses efforts to market their content via online channels.
The basic components of a content marketing strategy include:
- Target market/Audience profiles
- Distribution Channels
- Resources Required
- Budget Allocation
- Measurement Criteria.
Each of these components will need to be researched and documented. Once this is done you can move on to developing an overall Content Marketing Plan.
The strategy component areas will it be fleshed out into individual sections within the overall plan. Now, don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to write the equivalent of War and Peace. Your plan may consist of two or three pages that you need to follow to give you the results you want.
The plan is more detailed than the strategy and should be at a low enough level that you (or your outsourcers) can work from it.
Before you even think about content creation and creating a lot of content, you need to define your objectives for why you are developing this content.
I know, none of us like to sit down and document everything that we are going to do before we do it. But, it is necessary if you want success and the sort of results that you can really feel proud of.
No doubt, one of your objectives will be to increase leads and sales into your business. Other objectives may be to increase your Internet presence, establish yourself as an authority in a particular niche, and lift awareness of your brand in the marketplace.
Target market/Audience Profiles
To be effective you need to understand and define what market/niche and the audience persona you are going after. This is where surveys and research helps to identify what your ideal prospect is looking for in the way of information and content to consume.
By distribution channels I mean what medium are you going to utilise distribute and promote your content. Will you be using social media platforms (Facebook, Pinterest, Google+) websites, blogs, press releases? Mapping out how you are going to deliver your materials to your audience is critical to the plan as it defines the scope (and investment) needed to succeed.
Alright, so are you going to be writing articles, creating videos, doing webinars, developing white papers and designing Infographics by yourself? More than likely not! So there will be tasks that you are skilled at and like doing, as well as some you would rather not do.
Technical or tedious activities you may decide to outsource either partially or entirely. If you like writing but detest researching statistics for the article, then delegating the research to another resource is advised.
You also need to source images you can use within articles, music for videos, camera, software for video editing and other expertise to deliver on your planned program.
The plan should be detailed enough to show individual tasks, responsibilities, and a calendar or schedule on a daily basis of what is being done to move you toward your goal.
· Content Creation Schedule
Part of your content creation schedule will include planning for how the content is created and what type of content is created. You may create one or more of the following types of content:
- Written content such as articles, blog posts.
- White papers
- Audio Recordings (for a Podcast).
- Graphics such as Infographics.
A content creation schedule would map out what is being created, who is creating it and the time frames for completion, review, rework and acceptance.
Content Publishing Schedule
When it comes to making your content available to your target audience consistency and pacing are critical. You don’t want to release 50 articles, 10 Infographics and a dozen videos all in the same week! You would release a mixture of materials each and every week over a period of months.
You need to be top of mind and visible regularly to capitalise on your investment in content development. So, a content publishing schedule is necessary in keeping structure and focus in your campaign.
Content Promotion Schedule
Ok, so your content has been created and published. Now to give it a boost and increase views and engagement you will have a series of promotional activities included in your campaign. This can take the form of:
- Press releases regarding a whitepaper or eBook you have released
- Facebook contests
- Paid advertisements
- Utilising social media such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook to draw attention to an article you have just written
- Posting comments on high traffic blogs
- Creating Infographics with a specific topic/theme
Once you have your scope of activities, resources required and schedules outlined you come to the part where you estimate the investment needed to bring your plan to fruition.
There is nothing free in this world. Whether it’s a time investment, or a financial investment, you will need to make that decision when it comes to content creation. If you outsource of course, you will need to pay someone to perform the tasks necessary.
You may also need to pay for subscriptions to various service providers on the Internet for stock images, training or distribution services.
Of course, if you do everything yourself you may save many dollars, but there is a cost in the time commitment. So, you will need to balance out your budgets, with the need to produce content in a timely fashion. It is not productive use of your time to spend three hours writing an article (if you bill yourself out at $100 an hour) if you could get an out sourcer to do the same task to $30.
The size of your budget will dictate, to a great extent, the effectiveness of your content marketing efforts. No budget doesn’t mean you cannot be effective. It just means you will take a lot longer to create and distribute your content.
The real acid test of your efforts will be the results. I recommend that you measure your activities, your budgets, and the results of your efforts against your desired outcomes. Once you have reviewed your results you may find that you need to adjust your marketing approach and tweak existing systems to give you a better outcome. When you commence your strategy and planning remember to include how you’re going to measure your success.
ROI (Return On Investment) and ROE (Return On Effort) are the bottom line to assess in your Content Marketing campaigns. If you are outlaying more than what is returned you need to rethink your approach.