Content Marketing Step #4: Develop A Plan

So, you’ve got the basics down, you’ve identified your goals and objectives, and you understand your audience. But, before we write our first piece of content, we’ll first need to understand why we would cover a given topic or write a certain article.

We need to take a step back once again and see our content marketing strategy from a birds eye view. We do this through creating a content marketing plan.

Here’s the approach to content marketing..

Your approach to content marketing and your overall plan for distribution will communicate an overarching narrative for your online business. Each piece of content must be strategic and essentially build upon or supplement previous content.

Rather than posting haphazardly with random topics and at sporadic times, we need to be intentional with each and every post.

Not only must your content be strategic, it should always be as high quality as possible. It’s one thing to keep pumping out content for the sake of staying current and fresh while having a continued presence, but if your content isn’t quality and if it doesn’t continue your overarching narrative or it makes no sense to your existing audience, you’ve got it all wrong.

So, what we’ll do instead is take a look at how we can create strategic content one after the next that “Peels back layers of the onion,” so to speak all the while fitting into a structured calendar.

Here are the 2 basic steps we’ll take

Here are the 2 basic steps we’ll take in order to accomplish this and create our plan:

  1. Brainstorm topics
  2. Create a calendar

1. We’ll begin with brainstorming

In this step, we will brainstorm topics, headlines and categories, but first we’ll need to start by identifying our core business offer.

To do this, write down your answers to the following questions:

  • What problems or pain points are present in your industry?
  • How do you plan on offering a solution to these problems?
  • What products or services do you provide?
  • What sort of key benefits does your product or service provide?
  • What makes you different from anyone else in your niche?

Once you’ve answered these questions, we can begin brainstorming topics for content that speaks to these answers. 

By writing content that supports answers to these questions, you will be better able to stay focused in presenting your core value proposition throughout everything you create. 

A great place to get started with our brainstorming is to create a list of 50 pieces of content that you think will be useful and interesting to your audience. Think of general topics that provide answers to your questions. Then create specific headlines for each piece of content.

To get the juices flowing…

  1. We have a post that covers 50 unique pieces of content that you can create. It’s a master list of ideas if you’re just getting started out or find yourself stuck. We hope you like it. Check it out here!
  2. For more info on writing effective headlines, check out our post that details our 78 top performing headlines, here!

An interesting thing happens when you write out 50 ideas..

You may find yourself struggling to come up with the last 10 topics on your list of 50.

Why is this important?

In order to finish up your list, you’ll be forced to really think outside the box and come up with some creative topics. You may find that these last 10 are some of the most creative ideas out there. They are topics that others may not have considered creating. This can really be a game changer and make your content unlike any other out there.

After your list is complete, start setting aside the content that will be the most difficult to create and the content that’s the least useful to your audience. You’re now left with the cream of the crop. And that’s a great place to start.

So now you should have a few great ideas and a general direction you’d like to head with key topics and eye catching headlines. Now it’s time to map out a timeline for creating and distributing your content.

2. Create a Content Calendar

We’ll continue with mapping out a timeline for writing and distributing our content in a content calendar.

Content calendars work well because..

  • They are visual representations of something that’s somewhat difficult to comprehend.
  • They are easy to follow and
  • They break huge chunks of information up into smaller pieces.
  • A calendar also keeps you accountable to certain days and times of a given week or month.
  • You’re able to better visualize your deadlines and keep track of your progress as you go along.
  • You can see where you’ve been and where you need to go.

These calendars can be as simple as organizing 2-3 posts each week or 2-3+ posts each day.

Benefits of a Calendar

One key benefit of implementing a content calendar is that it allows you to take a bird’s eye view of your schedule and enables you to identify any missing pieces.

Seeing the full big picture allows you to see not only what you currently have, but also what and where you don’t have anything.

This helps with envisioning the whole picture and allows you to have your head up when planning and adjusting.

Calendar vs Content

Another benefit we’ve found is that we were able to plan around key events and dates. By knowing which day a major event is going to happen in your business, such as a new product launch, PR event, or even a simple webinar, you’ll be able to plan for specific campaigns. For example, you’ll know exactly which dates are months out, 2 weeks out, 1 week out, 3 days before, 1 day before, etc. 

It’s important to have a grasp of your strategy when posting content on particular days, weeks, or months of a year.

Luckily, we’ve put together a few tips to get you started in building your calendar. Check out our favorite online tools to get things started. Check them out here!

One more thing…

Here are a couple questions you should ask yourself at this point..

1. “Realistically, how often am I wanting/able to commit to creating new content?”

Once a week maybe?

If you’re writing simple blog posts of about 500 words, this should be very doable. However, if you’re hoping to create more in-depth articles, video reviews, step-by-step tutorials, case studies, interviews, etc., you may need to adjust your timeline accordingly.

Next ask yourself..

2. “How often am I able to distribute my content? How often am I able to post on social media platforms and other media outlets?”

The answer to this question dips our toes a bit into our step #6: Distribution/Promotion, but it’s an important thing to consider when planning your strategy. If you’re thinking of committing to 3-5 pieces of content each week, are you also able to commit to distributing each piece effectively across various media outlets?

Is this something you are able to do effectively with your time? Should you hire additional team members to perform this task for you?

Just because you’ve created a piece of content such as a blog post or article, your work is just getting started. In today’s world online, the phrase, “If we build it, they will come” will get you nowhere. The real work takes place in distributing your content effectively.

So, when you create your calendar, be sure to leave enough time in your calendar to distribute each piece effectively.

Note: We discuss this more in-depth in step #6: Distribution/Promotion so be sure to look for that coming up!

So, you’ve identified your first few winning pieces of content, possibly have headlines written for each of these and got your calendar mapped out. It’s finally time to actually get our hands dirty and create the content.

Ready?

Check it out here in the next step!


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