I had the opportunity to talk with Robert Rose this week (if you don’t know him, he’s the Chief Strategist at the Content Marketing Institute) about how companies often fail to develop a content marketing plan with clear goals to help them achieve their business objectives. It was a great conversation, so I thought I’d share some of the insights I got out of it in this post.
Robert and I talked about how most companies are already doing content marketing in one form or another, though they don’t all think of it that way. Maybe they have a blog, for example, are active on social media, or publish white papers from time to time. The problem, which Robert noted and I’ve also seen, is that many companies don’t have a real plan and process in place around all of it. There’s nothing tying everything together into a cohesive content marketing program that positively impacts their business.
So how do you create a content marketing plan?
He explained that the first thing to do is take a step back to figure out what you actually want to accomplish through content marketing and how that will support your company’s overall marketing efforts and business objectives. A good way to start is by thinking about your sales process and which part of the sales funnel needs to be optimized most. Maybe it’s getting people into the funnel by raising awareness, or coming up with a better way to get them through the funnel with more efficient lead nurturing. Whatever it is, articulating it clearly will help give your content marketing program a clear direction.
Next, we talked about the importance of taking stock of whatever you’re already doing (those aforementioned blogging and social media activities, for example) to see if they’re really helping drive you in the right direction. Some of your existing activities may be really effective, while others might need to either be improved or eliminated. Plus, chances are that there are a whole bunch of things that you aren’t doing yet that you will need to if you want to meet the overarching objective. (Just see the other posts in my blog or the great articles on the Content Marketing Institute’s website for ideas.)
With an overarching objective in mind and a clear understanding of what you’re currently doing to meet them, it’s time to develop and document some goals to help you get the rest of the way. The trick is to make sure that they are specific, actionable, and measurable, and that they reflect both your long-term objectives (e.g., doubling sales over the next two years) as well as the short-term milestones you need to hit along the way to not only get you there, but also to build excitement, momentum, and internal support (e.g., producing two eBooks this quarter or increasing website traffic by 25 percent).
In the process, make sure that all of your short-term goals are really set up to help you meet that overarching objective. You don’t want to waste time or resources on anything that distracts you from this. Also be sure to prioritize your goals, so that you’re focused on getting the ones that will have the greatest impact done first.
Remember, there isn’t a single content marketing plan or set of goals that’s right for every business. You need to create your own based on your specific objectives, resources, and needs. The most important thing is that you take the time to come up with a plan that outlines the goals you need to hit in order to meet your overall objectives. Even though it will evolve over time, it will help you to become organized, focused, and efficient, all qualities you want in your content marketing program.