Build Your Content Marketing Plan: A 10-Step Guide

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Build Your ContentMarketing Plan:A 10-Step Guiderightsourcemarketing.com 2015 Right Source Marketing. All Rights Reserved.

Build Your Content Marketing Plan: A 10-Step GuideTable of ContentsIntroduction2step 1 » Set Goals and Objectives4step 2 » Plan Your Budget6step 3 » Research the Market910step 4 » Know Your Target Audiences and Influencersstep 5 » Assess Existing Content11step 6 » Benchmark the Competition12step 7 » Fine-Tune Your Ideas, Messages, and Themes13step 8 » Identify Your Channels and Tactics15step 9 » Settle on Your Process, Team, and Tools17step 10 » Establish Measurement and Reporting Guidelines191rightsourcemarketing.com 2015 Right Source Marketing. All Rights Reserved.

Build Your Content Marketing Plan:A 10-Step GuideIntroductionIntroductionToday, companies of all sizes create and market content for many reasons: to generate and nurtureleads, engage and educate audiences, build trust and credibility, advance their industry, and toattract and retain customers — a phenomenon that contributes to the estimated 4.75 billion piecesof content shared online daily as of 2013. That number is up 94 percent from the year before andstudies predict it will only keep rising, with content marketing becoming all the more essential. In fact,the majority of today’s B2B marketers (86 percent) and B2C marketers (77 percent) use contentmarketing, according to the latest reports from Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs.Yet not everyone is having success. The same reportsA documented plan is critical to the effectivenesstell us that only slightly more than a third of all marketersof your content marketing programs.find content marketing effective. Interestingly, aMost marketers or business executives haven’tstrikingly similar percentage — only 35 percent ofbeen through a content marketing planning processB2B and 27 percent of B2C marketers — actually havebefore, so the idea of getting started can be daunting.a documented content marketing strategy.While every plan is different, there are some commonelements that should be part of any plan. This bookWhat does this mean?will walk you through them.2rightsourcemarketing.com 2015 Right Source Marketing. All Rights Reserved.

Build Your Content Marketing Plan:A 10-Step GuideIntroductionWe’ve broken the planning process downinto 10 steps in an effort to get you off on theright foot:In the following sections, you’ll find tips to get startedwith each step of the process, from the initial brainstorming and laying of groundwork to configuring yourgoals and budget, knowing your audiences, decidingstep 1step 2Set Goals &ObjectivesPlan YourBudgetwhat technologies and analytical tools to use, andseeing how it all fits together to take your companyin the direction you want to go.While we present the planning process in a series ofsteps, don’t let that mislead you into thinking this issimple. Each step involves several components, allof which interrelate.step 3step 4Research theMarketKnow YourTargetAudiences &InfluencersContent MarketingWithout a Plan: BewareFeel the need to get going? Maybe bypass theplan and just start publishing? Or are you afraidstep 5step 6AssessExistingContentBenchmark theCompetitionto take the planning plunge? Resist the urge todive in and execute before you plan.Here’s what will likely happen if you forgeahead minus the plan:» Your editorial calendar will fall apartwithin 30 days.step 7step 8Fine-TuneYour Ideas,Messages,& ThemesIdentifyYour Channels& Tactics» You won’t find the “big idea.”» Your subject matter experts and internalwriters will lose interest.» Your internal stakeholders (or investors)will stop buying in.step 9Settle onYour Process,Team,& Toolsstep10» You’ll lose the opportunity to educate yourteam on content marketing’s myriad benefits.EstablishMeasurement& ReportingGuidelinesGet all the details on how and why contentmarketing without a plan goes awry here.3rightsourcemarketing.com 2015 Right Source Marketing. All Rights Reserved.

Build Your Content Marketing Plan:A 10-Step Guidestep 1 » Set Goals and Objectivesstep 1 » Set Goals and ObjectivesContent marketing goals should come from marketing goals. Marketing goals should come frombusiness goals. Content marketing, therefore, should support the business, not just marketing. Aligningcontent marketing with your marketing and business objectives should guide your approach, but don’tgo overboard, especially if this is your first content marketing plan. Set some simple but specific oneyear goals, and then identify some broader two-or-three-year goals, which you’ll need to revisit on atleast a quarterly basis.To establish your content marketing goals, start with some questions. They might look simple, but don’t assumeyou know the answers and skip this part. Discuss them with your team and make sure you’re all on the same page.1. Why are we doing this? » Even if you think you3. What is our unique story? » Even if you thinkknow the answer, spell out why you’re doing contentyour business falls into the cookie-cutter category,marketing and why it’s important. And the answerit has a unique story. If you don’t know what thatshouldn’t be, “Because everyone else is doing it.”story is, then you may want to go through a processForget about what your competitors or the restthat focuses on company messaging before youof the world are doing, and come up with a specificmove forward.reason tied exclusively to you.Content marketing shouldsupport the business, notjust marketing.2. What’s the overarching goal? » There are avariety of ways to answer this question. Someanswers will focus on hard metrics like brandawareness, lead generation, or actual transactions.Other answers will focus on softer metrics likeprospect engagement or establishing your companyas a thought leader in your industry. There is noIf you do know what that unique story is, you’ll needright or wrong answer. No matter what, though,it to inform ideas, messages, and themes (see Step 6),answer this question early in the process.and to weave into each piece of content.4rightsourcemarketing.com 2015 Right Source Marketing. All Rights Reserved.

Build Your Content Marketing Plan:A 10-Step Guidestep 1 » Set Goals and ObjectivesThe 7 Flavors of Content Marketing: What’s Yours?As you develop your content marketing goals, it’s important to understand what type of content marketer you are.Make sure you establish this before you move forward and document your plan.Here are the seven flavors of content marketers,ranked in order of those most likely to succeed.Can you pick out your flavor? Or are you a hybridof several?1. Brand Builder » If your flavor is brand builder,kudos. Capture readers with entertaining,educational pieces of content that incorporatebrand messaging, and they will perceive yourbrand as trustworthy, credible, and likeable.2. Thought Leader » The thought leader knowsthat there is little that can match content marketing’seffectiveness in terms of making owners, principals,or executives appear as the people who set theBrand BuilderThought LeaderLead NurturerSocial MediaManagerLead Generatoragenda for the industry.3. Lead Nurturer » You have more leads than youWhatFlavorContentMarketerAre You?know what to do with — and not enough competentsales people to stay on top of them. Get yourCRM lead data cleaned up, fire up your marketingautomation tool, and start dropping smart contentin your prospects’ laps.4. Social Media Manager » You’re the hit-or-missflavor. Social media activity should be only one partof a strong content marketing plan — don’t let thesocial media tail wag the content marketing dog.5. Lead Generator » While content marketing willgenerate short-term leads, those leads are notPublicity Seekernecessarily “sales-ready.” Make content marketingthe supporting cast to your existing or new programs.Sales Guy/Gal6. Publicity Seeker » Otherwise known as the“Replace PR with Content Marketing, Expect SameBenefits” approach, this flavor is almost always apoor choice. Content marketing contributes to, butdoes not create, media coverage.7. Sales Guy/Gal » While content marketing shouldcertainly impact revenue in the long term, rare is theprogram that drops a customer in your lap duringthe first 3-6 months.5rightsourcemarketing.com 2015 Right Source Marketing. All Rights Reserved.

Build Your Content Marketing Plan:A 10-Step Guidestep 2 » Plan Your Budgetstep 2 » Plan Your BudgetNow that you’ve done the groundwork and defined goals for your content marketing effort, youneed to try to put a price tag on it. Content marketing efforts come in all sizes. If the sky is the limitwhere budget is concerned, you can really have a lot of fun, but that is rarely the case.So how much do you budget for content marketing and how do you get it done accurately?You could plan out the spending for all the other efforts you think you “need” during the year — like a new website,a corporate video, marketing automation software, PR — and then use whatever is left for content marketing;or use a percentage of your overall marketing budget. There are lots of ways to figure it out.We aren’t here to tell you exactly how to prepare the budget for your organization, nor are we here to actually tellyou how much to spend on content marketing. Answers to those questions depend on dozens of business andmarketing variables.But we can offer five strategies and some quick tips to make sure you don’t underestimate the cost ofcontent marketing success.Budgeting Tip1. Don’t budget for content creation only» The actual creation of content is merely one stepIf you do start with a budget for content creationin the process. An important one, yes, but if youonly, double it to get a rough total contentplan to do content marketing right, you also needmarketing budget estimate. While creating theto budget for the following: content marketingcontent is certainly the most time-consumingstrategy and planning, content optimization,component over the long haul, you should becontent distribution, and content reportingspending equal time across other areas.and analysis.6rightsourcemarketing.com 2015 Right Source Marketing. All Rights Reserved.

Build Your Content Marketing Plan:A 10-Step Guidestep 2 » Plan Your Budget2. You’re going to need an editor for everythingBudgeting Tip» You need to budget for an editor — at least one.While your inclination may be for your managingYou may be able to make the case for an internaleditor to reside on your payroll, don’t be afraid toeditor, or you may decide that it makes more sensetry outsiders. There are plenty of great freelancefor someone on the outside to serve in that role.editors out there. Just make sure you know theBut someone, preferably one person, needs todifference between a copyeditor, or proofreader,be in charge of making sure that every single pieceand an editor.of content that is produced inside your marketingorganization has a shot at being remarkable.3. High-quality content does not come cheapBudgeting Tip» Creating great content, the type you will needDon’t dismiss the writer with the higher rateto break through the clutter, can be expensive.without giving some thought to why she carriesIt requires planning and the kind of writing thatthat rate. Will she be easy for your editor towill tell an engaging story — your story — to bringwork with, cutting down editing time? Is sheyour readers back again and again. Choose yourable to handle interviews with subject matterwriters well. Then realize that design, photography,experts on her own, making the whole processand editing are also an integral part of themore efficient?remarkable-content process.4. Poor design will diminish even remarkable contentBudgeting Tip» You might be asking, “What the heck does designBe clear and specific about the scope, expectations,have to do with content?” The answer? Everything.and deadlines on any design project. If you areDesign impacts content. Content impacts design.using an outside designer, have him or her createRemarkable content is far more difficult to achieveestimates based on a per-project fee rather thanwithout great design, because innovative designbilling by the hour. Some designers might requestwill enhance what you have to say. Find a waythat the project includes a “not to exceed” numberto get a content strategist and a designer to workof hours within that fee as protection. Make surein harmony, and you’re far more likely to createthat you are notified when your designer reachessome phenomenal pieces.75 or 80 percent of those hours so you can planfor any potential problems.7rightsourcemarketing.com 2015 Right Source Marketing. All Rights Reserved.

Build Your Content Marketing Plan:A 10-Step Guidestep 2 » Plan Your Budget5. Borrow a little budget from other marketing tacticsBudgeting Tip» Ask yourself this: what happens in marketingWhen you’re trying to establish your contentthat doesn’t involve content? Social media?marketing budget, get your marketing colleaguesNeeds content. Search engine marketing?together and ask the following question, “HowNeeds content. Direct mail? Needs content.effective would your tactic or area be withoutWebsite? Needs content.content?” The discussion should allow you toYour marketing plan should be content drivenplant the seed that the budget for contentoverall, and should not include content marketingmarketing needs to be shared across all areas,only as a line item.because without quality content and a plan tomarket it, no one’s marketing efforts will succeed.Content-Driven MarketingContent marketing is not a tactic, but rather a marketing approach. That’s why we call it content-driven marketing,because it should be integrated into all marketing tactics.G TATINEKNT MARMarketingAutomationSearch Engine AAdvertisingProgramsEmailMarketingDirectMailSocial ramsENTMARKETING TANTCTIC rcemarketing.com 2015 Right Source Marketing. All Rights Reserved.

Build Your Content Marketing Plan:A 10-Step Guidestep 3 » Research the Marketstep 3 » Research the MarketYour content marketing plan should be based on some credible research of both the primary andsecondary variety. Primary research should include interviews with marketing stakeholders, bothinternal (employees) and external (customers, prospects). Secondary research should include anyrelevant reports, studies, or surveys. If you look hard enough, there are even studies summarizingcontent marketing usage in particular verticals.Your research can take many forms. Some might be traditional market research, or an exploration of consumerattitudes towards a particular product. Some might be usability research, or a test of how a user navigates througha particular website. Some might be keyword research, used broadly to gauge demand or narrowly to forecastsearch engine marketing traffic and spending.» Thought leaders in your field.At a bare minimum, your content marketingplan needs to include your research findingsin these core areas:» Your target audiences (more on this in the nextsection), and where they are most likely to access» Current content inventory and performance, includingand engage with content.what generates the most traffic, sharing, and leads.» Keyword research to identify terms consumers use» SEO rankings and associated organic traffic, sortedto find your type of business, product, or service.by types of content and content topics.Don’t do research just to say you did research, though.» Social media and other distribution channelUse it to guide your plan and make key decisions, suchengagement.as putting more resources into one social channel overanother or partnering with a particular company to» Your top competitors, the content they create,reach a target audience. In other words, tie the researchand how that content is performing.you conduct to a specific action.Don’t do research just to say you did research.9rightsourcemarketing.com 2015 Right Source Marketing. All Rights Reserved.

Build Your Content Marketing Plan:A 10-Step Guidestep 4 » Know Your Target Audiences and Influencersstep 4 » Know Your Target Audiences and InfluencersDeveloping a content marketing plan without identifying the target audiences is like shooting anarrow in the dark. If you don’t know who you are trying to reach, then regardless of how remarkableyour content is, it will have little chance for success.In identifying the target audience, don’t jump immediately to your current customers. They may or may not be theright customers for your business, and they may or may not be the customers you aspire to work with. And don’tassume you have just one audience.During this part of the process, ask questions like:What Types of AudiencesAre There?» Who are our best customers?» What types of issues are they concerned with?» What types of information do they consume to» Where do they get that information now?There are many possibilities for potentialaudiences for your content marketing,and you might target more than one.Here are some options:» How do they typically interact with information» Current customersaddress those issues?and the companies that produce that information?» Prospective customers» Who else do we want to reach? Prospective clients,» Current employeesprospective employees, investors, partners?» Prospective employeesAlso take time to figure out who your influencers are,that is, the people who like you — because they can» Industry leadersconvince others to like you, too. Often, your influencers» Investorsare your best clients or customers. They sing yourpraises to others on social media, they engage with» Prospective partnerscontent you publish, and they can articulate in authentic,influential ways what, exactly, makes you so great.10rightsourcemarketing.com 2015 Right Source Marketing. All Rights Reserved.

Build Your Content Marketing Plan:A 10-Step Guidestep 5 » Assess Existing Contentstep 5 » Assess Existing ContentIf you’re going to plan your future content, it probably makes sense to evaluate your currentcontent, right? In particular, if you’ve already developed a healthy library of content, you’ll want atrained editorial eye evaluating each piece to determine its value (or lack thereof) as engaging,educational content for your target audience(s), its relationship to new messages and themes, andwhether it deserves a spot on the new content roster. Other things to think about as you conduct yourreview are whether content feels too sales focused, whether it offers a clear takeaway for the reader,and whether the design works well with the message.Only the truly remarkablecontent will break throughthe clutter. Good is nolonger enough. You willneed to be great.Make sure you dig out all of your content —remember, it’s everywhere. To be truly thoroughyou should review:» Website(s) and microsite content» Blog» Any anchor content and other downloadablesincluding case studies, whitepapers, checklists» Social media propertiesAlso take a look at performance. Review open and click» All printed sales collateral materialdidn’t? Keep an eye out for patterns, and evaluate whatrates. What content performed well? What contentyou can do to make your content stand out from the» All non-sales collateral (invoices, notices, etc.)2 million blog posts written every day. Only the trulyremarkable content will break through the clutter.» VideosGood is no longer enough. You will need to be great.Save your remarkable content, archive the rest.» PowerPoint or SlideShare presentations11rightsourcemarketing.com 2015 Right Source Marketing. All Rights Reserved.

Build Your Content Marketing Plan:A 10-Step Guidestep 6 » Benchmark the Competitionstep 6 » Benchmark the CompetitionYour competition is vying for your buyers’ and influencers’ mindshare on a daily basis. Anyone inthe decision-making seat — your prospects included — has limited time to consume information andwill select only the most remarkable content.Chart out what your competitors are doing and then adjust accordingly in your planning. Are they on Facebook,Twitter, LinkedIn, Google , Pinterest — how do they use those platforms? Are they effective? How many followersdo they have? How often do they post? Does their content engage audiences or appear to fall on deaf ears? Do theyhave white papers, eBooks, email campaigns, newsletters, videos? Do they have a blog and host webinars? Visit eachcompetitor’s website, go to their social platforms, sign up for their newsletter. Plot your findings and identify gaps.Make an analysis of:» Who is doing content marketing well and who isn’t?» What’s not being done in your field?CompanyBlogVideo» Are there several tactics that none of your competitorsare using that present a real window of opportunity?White essReleasesYour CompanyYesYesNoYesNoYesYesCompetitor #1YesYesNoYesYesNoYesCompetitor #2NoNoNoYesYesNoYesCompetitor #3YesYesNoNoNoYesYesAs you go through your competitor list, don’t forget about your aspirational peers. Your industry may be behind thetimes, and your competition may be doing things the wrong way. Make sure you include a company that you knowis executing content marketing successfully, and benchmark against it.12rightsourcemarketing.com 2015 Right Source Marketing. All Rights Reserved.

Build Your Content Marketing Plan:A 10-Step Guidestep 7 » Fine-Tune Your Ideas, Messages, and Themesstep 7 » Fine-Tune Your Ideas, Messages, and ThemesMost marketers spend the bulk of their time in this area — this is the fun stuff, the “let me dream upall the cool content ideas I have and see if anyone likes them” work. But if you don’t put some structurearound it, your plan will look like one giant brainstorm.Make sure you address these three distinct areas:Create a messaging guide that steers development ofall other content.1. Ideas » You might also call these campaigns,or programs. Your ideas take into account goals,Think of the guide as a “Who are you?” kind ofobjectives, messages, but put a creative spindocument. It includes your company’s:on things. Think of Lowe’s series of six-second» Value proposition and benefitsVine videos that walk consumers through homeimprovement tips like using lemons to remove» Elevator pitch (or 30-second explanation ofwater stains or vegetable oil to keep squirrels atwhat you do)bay. Also consider American Express creating itsOPEN Forum content initiative, where business» Boilerplate (a short, more formal two-to-three-people can exchange ideas and share advice.sentence description of what you do)These are ideas (or campaigns) developed aroundclient or customer needs and tied to the company’s» Buyer personas (profiles of your customers or clients,goals and objectives.including their values and the problems or challengesthey face)2. Messages » Don’t do a content marketing planwithout going through a messaging development» Competitive positioning (the key factors thatexercise. Messages inform themes, themes informdifferentiate you from your competitors)content. Make sure everyone is singing from thesame hymnal on who the company is, what you do,and how clients benefit from using you.13rightsourcemarketing.com 2015 Right Source Marketing. All Rights Reserved.

Build Your Content Marketing Plan:A 10-Step Guidestep 7 » Fine-Tune Your Ideas, Messages, and Themes3. Themes » When you get to the theme level, nowyou’re talking about taking your company’s corestory (i.e., your messaging), combining it with thetarget audiences, and developing the specific storiesyou need to tell to engage with the right people.For a tax law firm, the themes might be tax lawtrends affecting small- and medium-sizedbusinesses, news or industry information, andbest practices for your business. For a non-profitHow To Create All That Contentfocused on healthcare reform, they might becollaboration among healthcare providers, investingin technology, and preventive health.So you nail those ideas, messages, and themesand your team of content creators is ready toRemember that your themes should always circlewrite. Where are you going to get all thoseback to your “campaign” and should reinforce yourcontent ideas? A key to your content success ismessaging as much as possible. This is not to saya well-stocked editorial calendar. Make sure youthat every piece of content needs to attempt tocreate one and are religious about keeping itinclude every message, but remember, the job ofup to date. Don’t be afraid to let your calendaryour content marketing effort is to reinforce yourflex — news comes up and you should be willingoverall marketing and business objectives.to shift and revisit what you have planned.But if the editorial well starts to run dry,try these 9 ideas to fill it up again:Don’t do a contentmarketing plan withoutgoing through a messagingdevelopment exercise.Messages inform themes,themes inform content.1. Repurpose something you’ve done before2. Create crowd-sourced content3. Hold a brainstorming meeting4. Make a prediction5. Talk to your sales people6. Check out what your competition is doing7. Recap an event8. Interview an expert9. Be newsyHere’s all the detail on how to makethese tips work.14rightsourcemarketing.com 2015 Right Source Marketing. All Rights Reserved.

Build Your Content Marketing Plan:A 10-Step Guidestep 8 » Identify Your Channels and Tacticsstep 8 » Identify Your Channels and TacticsSuccessful content marketers include an arsenal of tactics in their plans in order to achieve their goals. What arethe most-used tactics of modern content marketers?B2B Content Marketing Tactic UsageTacticPercentage of UseB2C Content Marketing Tactic UsageTacticPercentage of UseSocial Media Content(other than blogs)92%Social Media Content(other than blogs)93%eNewsletters83%eNewsletters80%Articles on Your Website81%Articles on Your Website78%Blogs80%Illustrations/Photos75%In-person Events77%Videos74%Case Studies77%In-person randed Content Tools47%White Papers68%Infographics45%Online Presentations65%Microsites44%Source: CMI’s B2B Content Marketing: 2015 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends — North AmericaSource: CMI’s B2C Content Marketing: 2015 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends — North AmericaDon’t reinvent — repurpose » The point is to use multiple tactics (B2B marketers use an average of 13, B2C use 11) in integratedform. For instance, you can repurpose content from your blog in your newsletter, or content from your case study in yourinfographic. You can pull countless potential blog topics from your white paper, and feature quotes from your webinar onyour social channels. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time, but multiple content types will address buyers at variousstages of the marketing funnel.15rightsourcemarketing.com 2015 Right Source Marketing. All Rights Reserved.

Build Your Content Marketing Plan:A 10-Step Guidestep 8 » Identify Your Channels and TacticsThere’s no point in creating content if no one knows it exists. A solid channel strategy answers thequestion, “Where will my content live in order to receive maximum exposure to the highest possiblepercentage of my target audience?”Content distribution, often in places outside of your3. Your email newsletter » You likely have some“owned” properties, is one of the most overlookedtype of email newsletter, or at least a list of people(and underappreciated) aspects of effective contentwho have expressed interest in receiving email frommarketing. And distribution does not end withyour company. Now is the time to use it.social media.Tip: If you are producing targeted, valuable content,Here are some of the distribution channelsyou can build into your plan:include it in your email newsletter and then keep aneye on the open and click rates.1. Your own employees » You may not have4. Syndicate your content » Whether you’re having1,000-plus LinkedIn connections, 10,000-plustrouble building your own audience or not, considerTwitter followers, or 5,000-plus Facebook fans.putting your content in front of someone else’sThat’s OK. If you have employees, you have peopleaudience. You know your industry, and you knowwho can act as ambassadors for your companythe web and print publications that matter to yourand distributors of your content.industry. Sometimes it’s as simple as reaching outTip: Be very specific about what and how youto those publications, showing them your content,want your employees to share content. Give themand asking if they want to include it in their websitethe links, headlines, and some suggested copy theyor print editions.can use for sharing.The tactics side of this discussion is fairly simple.2. Your “friendlies” and “fans” » People andYou cannot market anything without content today.companies like you, whether you know it or not.Therefore, when you start building your contentPartners like you, clients like you, “fans” like you,marketing plan, you need to think about contentvendors like you.marketing as an approach to everything. Yourcontent marketing plan will ultimately impact everyAny good salesperson knows you have to askmarketing tactic, campaign, or program.for the referral. In content marketing, you haveto ask for the share.16rightsourcemarketing.com 2015 Right Source Marketing. All Rights Reserved.

Build Your Content Marketing Plan:A 10-Step Guidestep 9 » Settle on Your Process, Team, and Toolsstep 9 » Settle on Your Process, Team, and ToolsAll the cool content ideas in the world will mean nothing if you’re not able to build the right team toexecute your content marketing plan and give them the right tools to support it.TeamTeam decisions are driven by goals and objectives. To address some of these issues, you first have to decide whetheryou are insourcing, outsourcing, or executing in a hybri

social media tail wag the content marketing dog. 5. Lead Generator » While content marketing will generate short-term leads, those leads are not necessarily "sales-ready." Make content marketing the supporting cast to your existing or new programs. 6. Publicity Seeker » Otherwise known as the "Replace PR with Content Marketing, Expect Same

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