When we talk about content marketing, it's usually in the context of producing certain types of content and promoting it. You need to create top-notch material and get it in front of the right people. That gives you exposure to folks who are likely to tell others about you.
But why are you producing content in the first place? What are you trying to accomplish with it? These are simple questions that a lot of content marketers have yet to ask themselves. As a result, many of them produce material that is high in quality, but without direction.
Today, I'm going to show you how to come up with beginnings of a content marketing plan designed to help you meet your goals. This plan will ultimately tell you what to produce, when to produce it, and what to do with it when you're finished. The idea is to remove any question about what you should be doing at any given point with your content marketing.
Let's start at the beginning.
Write Down Your Content Marketing Goals
You can't achieve your goals unless you can define them. The best way to do that is to write them down. The exercise will force you to identify how your content will help you accomplish what you want.
For example, you might want to use content to…
- gain prospective customers' trust in your expertise
- become recognized as an authority in your niche
- build relationships with influencers
- help your sales staff or affiliates generate sales
- improve the visibility of your brand
- encourage people to join your mailing list
Write down every goal. Then, next to each goal, explain how achieving it will improve your business. This step will help you to prioritize your goals. Some will definitely be more important to you than others based on the potential benefit.
Determine How Your Content Will Meet Each Goal
Content is merely a tool. It's a means to an end, not the end itself. You need to figure out how certain types of content will help you to achieve the goals you defined in the previous section.
For example, suppose your goal is to create content that motivates people to join your mailing list.
What type of material should you create and how should you use that material once it is finished?
Here's one possibility: create an exhaustive “how to” guide and format it as a PDF. Then, write a blog post about your new guide. Include a link in the post that takes people to a landing page. The landing page will have a sign-up form for your mailing list along with the promise of the free guide in exchange for subscribing.
Next, post about your “how to” guide on Twitter with a link that takes people to your blog post. Then, let people know about your guide on Facebook. (Again, send them to your blog post.)
Lastly, send an email out to your existing list. Inform them about your guide and link to a page from which they can download it. Include a second link to your blog post, and encourage your subscribers to tweet, share, and like it. Include a third link to your tweet, and ask them to retweet it.
The above is merely one pathway to using content to achieve a single goal – in this case, building your mailing list. There are numerous pathways you can use. You might prefer to make videos. You may get a lot more mileage from Pinterest. Or, you might have developed a huge following on Google+ that you can leverage.
Here's the point…
The key is not the type of content you create. Nor is it the methods you use to promote it. Those are merely tools. The key is to decide how you will use those tools to accomplish the goals you defined in the first section.
Take each one of your goals and define a pathway for it. Identify each step you'll take along that pathway once you've created your content. That way, you'll know exactly what to do when you reach that phase of your marketing plan.
What you've just read is only the beginning. We're going to put together your content marketing plan piece by piece. You'll want to bookmark this post and refer to it later since it deals with crucial beginning concepts that will guide your plan forward.
Stay tuned for more content marketing goodness!!
Have you created a formal content marketing plan for your business? If so, what steps are you taking to accomplish your goals? Is there a significant social media aspect to your plan or do you rely on other means of distribution? Tell us about your experiences in the comments!
Christine O’Kelly is the co-founder of Online PR Media, the press release distribution site that supercharges traditional media press releases with multimedia, social media, and search engine optimization. A recognized expert in SEO press release strategy and distribution, Christine teaches marketers, advertisers, and business owners how to gain more online visibility and publicity for their businesses. For a FREE copy of Christine O’Kelly and Tara Geissinger’s e-book, “The Results Driven Press Release Formula,” visit: http://www.onlineprnews.com/how-to-write-a-press-release