women planning content marketing strategy
Have you ever been lost? You never plan on getting lost, it just happens. Everything seems to be fine, then the sudden realization sweeps over you that you aren’t where you thought you were.

It happened to me in Charlotte, before the advent of never-get-lost smartphones. I missed a turn and thought I would just take the next exit and turn around…except I couldn’t. There was construction, and I was diverted.

Instead of stopping and taking stock of where I was and what I needed to do, I kept driving—the wrong way.

The right content marketing plan can help you reach your destination

Chances are you doing that same thing with your content marketing. You’ve been told inbound marketing is essential, and you see your competition doing it, so you start creating content. You aren’t quite sure where you are going, but man do you have a great blog.

The problem is, you don’t have a solid content marketing plan in place. It acts as a map, so you don’t get lost. With it, you’ll know what you’re creating, for whom, and how it will be delivered.

Content creation is important, but it needs to work towards an overall goal.

1. State your goal

What are you trying to do with your content marketing? Be specific. Is your goal to double your leads or to convert more leads to sales? Both goals are wonderful, but there are definite strategies to accomplish one that doesn’t necessarily pertain to the other.

What is important to your business now? What will be necessary to your business in six months? One year? Five years?

The content needed in each of these stages is different. If you’ve planned well, you will have created content for each one when needed.

One of the reasons we get lost is we don’t plan enough, but you can’t plan if you don’t know where you’re going. You need to know your destination before you leave the driveway.

2. Do buyer persona research

It is vitally important to clearly define your target audience for each piece of content you create. Content should be designed with a specific purpose for a particular audience. Some content is for new lead awareness, other content is for middle funnel education, and still more content is for converting leads into sales.

Buyer personas are particularly important for those who are just starting to create a content marketing plan. By knowing your target audience, you can produce relevant content that leads to conversions.

If you already have a content marketing plan, it is still wise to continually update your buyer personas. Your target audience may change over time, or there may be an opportunity to expand your market share by targeting a new group.

3. Plan out present and future content ideas

Having content ideas ready three, six, and twelve months outputs the “plan” in your content marketing plan. If you are always working on the marketing content you need now, how can you target the future. You can’t take the time to make sure the content is targeting the right persona. You can’t take the time to make sure it is error-free. You can’t take the time to make sure it is as connected to your other content as it needs to be. You can’t even take the time to make sure it is the right type of content.

There is no margin for error.

So there I am in Charlotte, diverted because of construction, moving faster than I should, trying to give myself margin, when flashing red and blue lights appear in my rearview.

That is always the case, isn’t it? When we’re not quite sure of what to do or where to go—when the unknown is all we have in front of us—we go faster.

4. Understand the type of content needed

Steps three and four go hand-in-hand. Using what you’ve learned from buyer personas, you can plan out what kind of content you need and when you need it.

If your buyer personas desire case studies, then planning out four months of blogs and videos doesn’t really help you reach your goal. If what you are doing doesn’t help achieve your goal, your content marketing efforts are not as effective as they could—or should—be.

5. Publishing your marketing content

Your content marketing plan isn’t just a list of topics. Yes, it should cover the idea and the type of content, but it should also convey how that content should be delivered. Stay well-balanced and diverse in the content you offer. Make sure to reuse content in different formats and be flexible.

If an opportunity presents itself, take advantage but return to the marketing plan. Most ideas will be as relevant tomorrow are they are today, but you don’t overlook opportunity topics. Timely topics won’t make up most of your marketing plan, but they can help generate spikes of traffic. If there are important days to your buyer personas, then it could be worth publishing content on your blog or on social media for that “holiday.”

Take advantage of topic clusters and SEO keywords

Finally, all the content in the world won’t do you any good if you don’t understand the playground. The way the internet works changes often. Make sure your content strategy plan changes with it. Customers might never find you unless you change the way your content interacts with search engines.

Chances are you have decent content. Is it optimized for today’s internet? Now is the time to make an effort to repackage and structure all your quality information in a new way to take advantage of current search engine protocols and the ever-changing search habits of web users. Don’t get lost; let TBH Creative help you create an effective, measurable, content marketing plan.

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