Use This Agenda For Your Content Marketing Plan

content marketing plan

By Brooke Sellas, {grow} Contributing Columnist

As social media becomes less shiny, many of our clients are realizing that social media success relies on having a content marketing plan.

While we’ve been hired to come in and “do” social media, our constant gentle push about sharing stories through original content (read: the RIGHT content for our customers) is finally being felt.

Our biggest client came to us this month ready to tackle the reason social media exists in the first place: storytelling. More specifically, telling their story in such a way that the consumer aligns with, trusts, and recognizes the brand.

While putting together their agenda, I thought it may be helpful to share so everyone can get clear on their content marketing plan or agenda for 2016.

The Content Marketing Plan (Agenda)

Here’s an overview of our agenda. I’ll take each topic step-by-step below with some ideas and tips for execution.

  1. Business Objectives
  2. Brand Objectives
  3. Content Inventory & Audit
  4. Competitors
  5. Content Gaps
  6. Content Calendar

Step One: Business Objectives

This client is a large retailer. Their #1 goal is to drive e-commerce sales through their website and other retailers where their product is available. So, objective #1 for tying content to business goals is sales.

Ways in which our content can help achieve in objective in 2016 are plentiful. We can:

  • Educate the consumer on our product, and why it’s better than competitor X
  • Highlight our Consumer’s Choice Award
  • Increase content on our website (perhaps with a blog) to increase metrics like time spent and pages viewed
  • Drive traffic to our quiz-like content that helps you find the best product for your particular life habits
  • Increase ad spends on content and keywords for our industry

These objectives may also help in other areas, but it’s best to start with figuring out how you can tie your content marketing plan to business goals and wins.

Without this critical step, you could end up wasting time (and money!).

Step Two: Brand Objectives

Even though some may confuse the brand and business objectives, they are vastly different. Where the business objective looks inward and is all about us, the brand objective looks to the consumer and is all about perception.

The questions to ask here are:

  1. How does the customer currently perceive our brand?
  2. How do we want the customer to perceive our brand?
  3. How can we close gaps and change perspectives?

Tactics to improve could be thought leadership, brand loyalty, user-generated & influencer content, and other ways to find and nurture brand advocates.

Storytelling also plays a big role here. What IS our story? How can we tell it in a way that sparks engagement?

Step Three: Content Inventory & Audit

If you’re just starting out, this may not be a HUGE undertaking, but in my case, this client has been in the industry for years. And even though they have a new website and look, there are vast amounts of content that they’ve spent time and money developing.

I really want to get my hands on an inventory of that content and then find out if we can reuse it moving forward.

Personally, I like to score the content like this:

Score 0: Not relevant or usable

Score 1: Poorly conceived or not executed well (or in some cases, at all)

Score 2: Not bad, but not strong

Score 3: Room for improvement; average

Score 4: Almost there; pretty darn good

Score 5: Excellent

Once we have an inventory, we can go through and audit each piece, giving it a score. And when it comes to reusing and recycling, we’ll focus on 4s and 5s (maybe 3s if there aren’t may high-scoring pieces).

This audit allows us to work smarter, not harder.

Bottom line: Know your content mix!

Step Four: Competitors

It goes without saying — especially in the retail space — you have to stay on top of what your competitors are doing.

When I first started working with this client, they had 30+ comps they were keeping an eye on. Together, we’ve since narrowed that list to the five that most compete with our brand. And that’s a big tip, not EVERYONE

And that’s a big tip, not EVERYONE is a competitor. You won’t know who the real ones are until you’ve gotten clear about your business objectives, brand story, and content production and distribution.

Once you know who your top three to five comps are, look at what types of content are big wins for them. See how you can create similar content — but ensure it’s on brand and achieves your goals.

Step Five: Content Gaps

Now that you’re armed with all of this really amazing data, USE IT.

Take a look at your content types (blogs, guides, ebooks, infographics, videos, emails, etc.) and see where the gaps are.

Only focusing on snackable content meant for social media consumption? You’d better get some owned content created, like a blog, emails, or video series.

Additionally, look at the goals each piece of content has. What is this piece of content supposed to do?

Since our #1 objective is sales, I want to know how each piece of content we’ve created or will create fits into our sales pipeline.

It’s also critical to understand what story each piece of content is telling — because consumers are enthralled by entertaining pieces, not by boring corporate speak.

Putting Your Content Marketing Plan To Work

After you’ve done your homework (and are probably exhausted and ready for a stiff drink) it’s time to put your plan to work.

Step Six: Content Calendar

When we create client content, or publishing, calendars, there are two sections:

  1. The yearly plan (color coded by type of content)
  2. The monthly plan

While the yearly plan allows us to prepare in advance for any promos, offers, contests, holidays, blog posts, or influencer-type content, the monthly plan gets granular and looks at the day-to-day content like:

  • URLs & tracking tokens
  • Copy & character counts
  • Images
  • Date/Time
  • Content type or tags
  • Appropriate platforms for publishing

If you’re just getting started with a content calendar, try this free one from HubSpot.

Prosperous content marketing plans and initiatives must first be strategic. Start with step one of this agenda and follow through to step six.

You’ll have to have a bigger vision — go big or go home — if you want to take your content to the next level this year and combat the growing presence of content shock.

How do you plan out your yearly content marketing strategy? Let me know in the comments below!

Brooke Ballard for {grow}Brooke B. Sellas is an in-the-trenches digital marketer & owner at B Squared Media, blossoming blogger, and a purveyor of psychographics. Her mantra is “Think Conversation, Not Campaign” so be sure to give her a shout on Twitter.



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