There’s nothing worse than looking forward to time off only to realize your social media pages will sit neglected while you’re enjoying the holidays. Nobody wants to be trying to let their hair down only to have to think of what to post when your audience is used to seeing regular content from you.
Having a plan in place will not only be invaluable while you are taking a vacation, but also during work-related trips or events or any day when you have a little more on your plate and are pressed for time to focus on your marketing content.
I don’t know about you, but those busy days seem to come fast and furious. As much as we want to keep our audience engaged, and to improve our ranking on search engines by regularly sharing fresh content, time always seemed to run away from us… until we set in place and followed a marketing plan. It’s something we recommend to all our clients.
Not sure where to start? Here are a few tips to help you create a robust content marketing plan for your business:
Set Your Mission and Your Goals
What are your business goals? What do you want your marketing plan to accomplish?
- Would you like to gain more followers?
- Create brand awareness and stay top-of-mind with your customers?
- Introduce or tease about upcoming products and services?
- Educate your audience and build credibility by providing key tips and resources that relate to your area of expertise?
- Showcase how your business engages with or gives back to the community?
Once you have these answers acting as your guiding principles, you can work on the following next steps.
Know Your Audience
Who is your marketing campaign for? What are their habits, preferences? Do you have a specific section of your audience you are targeting with certain messages or is it one message for all? In our tip Are you missing big targets, we saw that targeted marketing is important as the buyers within your audience could be at different stages of the buying cycle. It is important to structure your marketing plan in such a way that it speaks to your target audience at all these stages.
Choose the Best Content Channels
There is a myriad of marketing options on how you can reach your audience. The key is to understand them so you know which channel(s) will be most effective.
Research your audience and come up with a list or chart showing their demographics, their preferred channels, their social media personas, their buying habits, when they’re online, their favorite or most accessed websites or platforms, their preferred content type (written, photos, graphics, video), etc.
All these snippets of insight into your audience’s preferences will determine which channels you will ultimately use in executing your marketing strategy.
Decide on Content Types
Never assume that the content development process is just a walk in the park, or that each content type takes the same time and resources to create. The best time to decide on the content type is during the planning stage in the marketing strategy. Here is why.
Settling on the content type will help you to:
- decide on whether to hire a content developer or not
- pick out the best channels to carry the various content
- allocate time and resources to prepare the content, especially for written or recorded content
Whether written, illustrated, painted, or recorded in the form of text, graphics, audio, or video, content type is an aspect you need to settle on at the planning stage. This is also when you can pre-write post ideas and have them as rough drafts awaiting refining at a later stage.
Create a Content Marketing Calendar
Once you’ve picked out your content type, the next step is to create your content marketing calendar that outlines:
- Where you’re going to post or market. Which social media channel(s)? Email? Newsletter? Blog? New strategic content page on your website?
- When you’re sending out the content. Is it several times a day? Daily? Weekly? Monthly? Quarterly?
- What topic you are going to focus on. Remember, you can reduce your work and broaden your reach by repurposing the same content on multiple channels.
Whatever you settle on, record everything in your marketing calendar. Not only will you have a permanent reminder of what to post when and where, but a marketing calendar takes the load off your shoulders so you don’t have to decide what to put up at the very last minute.
Tip: Your marketing calendar doesn’t have to be super complicated. There are many “editorial calendars” available for free online. Or you can download and use a free marketing calendar template we share with clients. Or build your own simple spreadsheet as follows:
- Create a column for each month.
- Have a section at the top with 1 or 2 rows for key dates you want to remember or build your marketing around. Ideas include a row for holidays you want to showcase or build a promo around. A row for key events you are organizing or attending (trade shows, a community event you’re speaking at etc.).
- Next, optional but something we recommend, have a row for ‘marketing focus’. i.e. what overarching topic(s) do you want to focus on that month. And if you offer promotions, have a row that identifies what promo(s) you’re running that month.
- Next, add a row for each type of marketing you want to undertake. Email; newsletter; blog; new landing page; new webpage; a row for each social media channel you use; print ad; pay-per-click ads; Facebook ads etc. Remember, the goal isn’t to do them all, but to list which channels are best for your business based on your audience research.
- Finally, build out your calendar by adding key info in each cell. For example, holidays might be Thanksgiving in November’s cell. Promos – what is it, for how long. Email – title, send date. Landing page – topic, launch date. Social media – content type (post, audio, video), frequency (daily, 3x/week). Print ads – where, size, topic, cost. Etc.
The goal is to have a roadmap for your marketing plan that is unique to your business. Once you have your plan, build a process of how to implement it.
In the world of content marketing, resources are everything you will need to make your marketing a success. It includes the time, the effort, the content itself, the manpower, and even the channels that you are going to use to carry your content across. It should also include some feedback mechanisms and analytical tools that see if your content is serving the purposes you originally laid out.
When preparing your content marketing plan, it is important to allocate enough resources to each item to make sure the process won’t be delayed or suspended. Remember to factor in not just the budget to create your content, but also to monitor and evaluate your process and the results.
Remember, marketing follows a cycle. If you allocate a specific amount of time to a process, it is important to keep assessing that process to make sure you have built in enough time for you or your team/consultant to meet their deadlines. After all that hard work you put into your marketing calendar, you want it to stay on track!
Use a Scheduling Software
Once you have all of your content planned, you want to think about how you’ll be implementing it. For most of us, posting on the actual ‘send date’ is inconvenient, or outside their expertise. What if the ‘send date’ is scheduled when you have holiday plans, are away on a business trip, or have other pressing challenges requiring more of your attention?
Your content marketing calendar should never be affected by your availability on the ‘send date’. The best way to do this would be to have scheduling software that keeps working for you even on days when you are busy elsewhere.
There are a lot of different social media management tools that are free, or you can upgrade for multiple channels or more options. Here are a couple of articles that take a look at the top platforms. Take a browse and pick one that fits your needs:
A content marketing plan will definitely make your work easier and even free up some time for you to focus on the more demanding aspects of your business. The best part is that as you focus on engagement, it will generate leads and create new business!
Now is the time to create your plan for next year., While you’re at it, plan ahead and schedule posts so you can enjoy your Thanksgiving and Christmas break.
Your Online Partner… for Success
Now more than ever you need a website that is more than a pretty business card. You need one that has its sleeves rolled up and working for you. We’re here to make sure your website and marketing plan are working just as hard as you are. Take advantage of a free 30-minute session with Christy to explore ways to take your site to the next level.