Thursday, July 18, 2013

Content Marketing Planning

One of the biggest mistakes you can make with your content is to not have a plan.  If you produce content of any sort: blogs, white papers, ebooks, or even just the pages of your website, you need a plan.

Your plan doesn't have to be a super complicated Excel spreadsheet or PowerPoint flow chart.  It just has to answer a few simple questions.

  1. What is the purpose of your content?
  2. What method(s) will you use to achieve your goals?
  3. How will you measure success?

The purpose of your content is the most important.  Are you trying to get more business? or are you just writing for fun?  Where do you see yourself in 5 years and what role did your content play along the way?  

Most companies say something like, "The purpose is to establish ourselves as the experts."  That's great, but why do you need to be an expert?  Is it to get more business? get a book deal? or something else?  9 times out of 10, it's to get more business. 

There is more than one way to skin a cat... that's sort of a gruesome way to think about your options.  But what if we think about catching a [stray] cat (instead of skinning one). 

  • You can set out food and water and feed it until you have gained enough trust that it will let you pick it up.
  • You can set out a humane trap that will trap it in a nice carrier for you.

The first one is how most content marketing campaigns are designed.  You essentially create a content channel that appeals to your target audience.  This gives you a personal stream of "potential" clients that you can advertise to.  Assuming you provide useful information and advertise appropriately, you will gain enough trust to pick up some new clients.  It is important to realize that this is not a quick process.

The second method is focused around increasing conversions.  Rather than blogging about everything related to your industry, you focus in on the key parts where you are the best.  This leads readers to not only see you as a trustworthy source of information, but also as the best solution.  This method draws a line in the sand to separate those who might be interested in buying and those who just came for the free cookies.  

I understand the urge to blog about everything, and everyone is different, but I tend to advise companies to create public content that focuses on conversions.  If you still feel the need to publish your vast industry knowledge, you can do so as a newsletter or private blog that is only available to your clients and inner circle. 

That last thing you need to know up front is, how will you know if you are succeeding or just wasting time?  Depending on your purpose and the method you use, your measure of success will be different.  Ultimately, most content is aimed at increasing sales.  If you can't attribute a growth in your bottom line to your content strategy, chances are you missed something important.

Does your content marketing produce results?