So you’ve been told that content marketing is the hottest marketing trend of 2017? Well, you heard right. According to the Content Marketing Institute, you’ve got some heavy content competition this year – 70% of B2B marketers are going to be creating more content than ever in 2017. If you haven’t crafted up a beautiful content marketing plan just yet, there’s never been a better time to start. If you don’t you risk being left behind.

But, the thing is though, you don’t just want to be producing content for content’s sake. The whole purpose of content marketing is to come up with creative ways to capture your audience’s attention. It’s important to remember that while it’s great to push out large amounts of content, the emphasis should always be on content quality and not simply the quantity.

The key to effective content marketing lies not only in the power of your writing, but also in your style and strategy. The options are endless, social media content, blogs, emails, face-to-face events, e-books, videos, infographics and webcasts. You could try and conquer all of them, but I don’t know about you, I barely have enough time to tackle the seemingly endless emails that line my inbox, let alone trying to master 20 new content mediums. So, instead of trying to do it all decide what will work best for you and then do it really bloody well.

The journey of 1,000 miles starts with a single step, or in this case, a single piece of content.

We’ve come up with a step-by-step guide on how to create a content plan (that will actually work!) to start growing your audience, and your sales!

Your Framework to a Killer Content Marketing Plan:

  1. Have a goal

Why are you creating content anyways? This step (the why) should always come before the what (what you are creating). This is where we can differentiate between effective marketers versus their less successful counterparts.

What are you trying to achieve (well, besides straight up sales)? Drive leads? Brand awareness? Who are you trying to hook? And how will you implement your plan? It’s so easy for a content strategy to get sidetracked if there isn’t a clear MO from day dot. One minute you have the best intentions to mix humour with education and the next thing you know you’re heading down a dank meme spiral with no idea how things went so wrong so quickly. If you don’t know where you want to get to and what success looks like to you, how will you guide your content strategy to success?

Your goal should lie somewhere in the middle of your audiences’ key interests and your personal brand’s values. The purpose of content marketing is not simply to write, it is to cause a behaviour change, so what you are creating has to have a purpose and be valuable.

  1. Understand your audience

As with all marketing, it’s key to have a firm understanding of your audience before kicking off your marketing efforts. We’re talking knowing exactly who you want to read and engage with your content.

Spend some time researching your target audience and their personalities. What are they into? Who do they associate with? What they do with their lives and what they do in their free time?

Having a really deep understanding of who your audience is and what makes them tick will help reel the people you want in. Gone are the days when you could just cobble together an article and expect people to read it. Today’s savvy consumers are expecting messages tailored to their wants and needs. According to Edelman, a whopping 80% of young people are expecting content catered towards them.

Every time you create, you should have one specific character in mind – someone who best represents your average customer.

When you write, think about that character. If what you’ve got written would resonate well with them, then you’re probably on track with your key audience. If you follow this suggestion, your content will flow and align well with your audience’s values.

  1. Create content pillars

Now for the fun part. You’re ready to start deciding what types of content you will be using for your business, also known as content pillars. This is the foundation that all your content will stem from. All content you create should fall under one of your pillars.

Social media content, blogs and email newsletters are the most popular tactics being focused on this year. But don’t stop there – eBooks, podcasts, Infographics are all effective forms of content as well. Don’t be boring and only stick to writing blogs. You need variation if you want to keep engagement levels high.

This also means doing something different from your competition. If you see all your competitors talking about a specific topic, take that topic and approach it from a different angle. After all, the majority of people find that customer experience is way more important than price when it comes to choosing a brand. Remember this! Do something that will engage your audience and draw in new potential clients.

When we say variation we don’t just mean varying the medium, you also want to vary the message. Even the most dedicated fan doesn’t want to hear the same type of content over and over again.

If you work in home renovations, for example, don’t just stick to posting before and after photos from projects, keep your fans up to date on industry news, forecasted design trends, your favourite appliances, fixtures and finishes, design inspiration and a sneak peek behind the scenes of your business at the people behind the company—you get the idea!

While we’re talking about content pillars this is also a good time to figure out which channels you plan on using within your content strategy – Facebook, LinkedIn, email – whatever it may be, make sure it fits with your customer’s persona. It is also important to remember to be less fixated on how many channels you can pump content through, but more focused on choosing a few good methods that are aimed at your specific target.

  1. Come up with a main content calendar hub

If you want your content strategy to have a solid foundation, you will need a central space to manage your content. Think about it as a place to keep your plan intact and organised. This is where you will need to create a content calendar – a place that will make your life easier when it comes to scheduling, managing and publishing your content.

Creating a visual calendar will help you keep in mind things like – How often are we posting blogs? How often should we schedule in some eBooks? This way you’ll ensure an even balance of content types, allowing you to track what types of content you are posting and how frequently.

Using cloud based software, whether you want to use an internal Google Sheet or a service like Trello will make for easy sharing and editing access amongst coworkers.

Once you’ve found a method that works for you, take your content pillars and platform list and create a planning calendar that you can fill in. Using your content hub is a great way to get draft ideas ready before publishing them and setting editorial deadlines for your team. Trust us, this makes for easy visual editing and updating!

  1. Start Creating!

Now for the best part – it’s time to get creating. It’s time to get writing, creating and designing your content and popping it into your content calendar.

In a society where people are searching for information constantly, we have a few pointers to keep in mind while creating.

You need to have a hook. Something that your audience will see right away which will capture their attention.

Be sure you are writing your blogs in an “F-pattern”, so the quick scanning eyes out there won’t get bored.

Also, use shorter sentences. Short, witty and to the point sentences are the best way to keep today’s distracted readers tuned in.

We want people to enjoy, share and remember what you post, so put some thought into your work when you create. It can also be beneficial to incorporate holidays and local events throughout the year, in order to keep your posts relevant to everyone reading

  1. Activate! And Maintain

Once you’ve got your first set of content created and organised, you can start scheduling and publishing and watching that hard work payoff. We suggest having your content scheduled on your channels about a fortnight, or even a month, in advance allowing space in your calendar for ad hoc posts and timely news articles.

Implementing a content calendar and creating a killer content marketing plan might seem like a fair amount of worth, but if done well, it’s well worth the investment. Trying to wing something as essential as content marketing never ends well. It is a lengthy and effort-driven process, but trust us when we say following a framework like this will significantly add to your lead generation, SEO, traffic and, ultimately, sales.

Need assistance with your online marketing? We’re here to help you dominate in the digital world. It’s free to talk, so call us on 1300 841 244 or contact us via our contact page.