A strategic content marketing plan in 5 easy steps
CMI research shows that a documented content marketing strategy is far more effective than one that isn’t written down. Yet, only 48% of B2B marketers have developed and documented a plan.
In the last post of the series: How to plan your content to generate leads and boost sales Step 5: Document, implement, and review your plan, we discuss the importance of documenting, implementing (yes you do need to implement it!), and reviewing your strategic content marketing plan.
Step 5: Document, implement, and review your plan
You’ve spent a lot of time (yours and others on the team, hopefully), pulled together a lot of information, and identified a lot of actions going through this planning process. Now document it! You will generate a powerful statement about your intentions. About how content marketing will achieve your desired business outcomes.
A documented strategy helps you gain support from the executive team. A plan keeps content producers strategically aligned. However, it doesn’t have to be complex or overly long. In fact, with a short, sharp targeted plan it may be easier to gain traction with management.
Document it: A simple, 5-step plan template
A simple plan is a great place to begin if you have no documented strategy at all. If you have a detailed strategy but struggle to gain traction, boiling it down to a simpler format may make it easier to implement. A documented strategy can help you:
- crystalize your content marketing strategy,
- gain stronger buy-in more quickly from executives or clients, and
- keep content producers strategically aligned.
Regardless of the format, the point is to get it down on paper and get everyone to agree to its resourcing and implementation.
I have developed a template for a Strategic Content Marketing Plan based on these 5 steps. You can download a free copy of the template here.
Effective implementation is about developing and delivering tactics that support the strategy. Three powerful tactics are whitepapers, case studies, and newsletters.
White papers, being persuasive essays, are a powerful way to market your product, process, or service. They pull in potential buyers by providing rich, substantive content that educates, rather than sells. Like an academic paper, an effective white paper is well-researched and based on established facts and logical arguments.
An effective white paper is persuasive without the hard sell (Fig.1). By avoiding fluff and the heavy sales pitch, your white papers will have a lasting, lucrative value that can have a measurable impact on your brand’s bottom line.
As well as engaging and educating your clients, white papers make an excellent call to action in a strategic content marketing campaign. Downloading the white paper indicates an interest and should be followed up. Collect email and names when they request the download, providing valuable contacts to add to your list.
Case studies, also known as ‘good news stories’, are powerful lead generators and should be part of the mix of tactics in your strategic content marketing plan. This is of particular importance for the professional service firms. Competition is fierce in the water world and keeping your brand relevant by telling your success stories is an effective tactic (see Figure 2).
A good marketing case study not only highlights your outstanding work, it can also serve as a teaching tool that gives readers a better understanding of the ways your products, processes, or services can help them solve their problem. Case studies can be published on social media, on your website, and in your periodic newsletter.
In the competitive world of water and wastewater treatment, maintaining strong relationships with current and potential clients is critical. Newsletters, delivered to your email list, are a cost-effective tactic to build relationships and to position your firm as thought leaders in your field (fig. 3).
Content for your newsletter can come from all areas of your firm and can really tie the various parts of your content marketing strategy together. By re-purposing content from case studies and white papers you not only leverage these content assets in new channels but also keep you top of mind with your clients.
Whatever your goals, however many tactics you have identified, your audience will not benefit if you don’t implement your content marketing plan.
Your strategic content marketing strategy is a living document. You need to review the plan regularly to ensure it remains relevant. Within the plan itself, specify review periods for all sections of the plan. Review periods will be different for each section of the plan:
- Goals – 5-yearly
- Content Calendar – annually
- Audience – annually and/or event-based
- Metrics – quarterly
Content is here to stay. If your company wants to stay on the top pages of Google, it is going to have to use content marketing. And effective content marketing is only possible with strategic planning.
Go through the process. Document it. Implement it. Review it. Your success is guaranteed!