Before you dive head first into creating that comprehensive content marketing strategy, you first need to have a solid marketing plan. I realize this may seem confusing and a bit redundant since you may be thinking; isn’t a content marketing strategy a marketing plan? No, they’re quite different. A marketing plan is a high-level document that outlines goals, business advertising and marketing efforts for the coming year and describes activities involved in accomplishing specific marketing objectives within a set time frame. Remember, your content marketing is a strategic marketing approach that focuses on creating and distributing valuable and relevant content to attract and retain your target audience.
You first need an understanding what the business is trying to accomplish before moving ahead with content creation. The marketing plan is the foundation of all your marketing efforts and the most important aspect of this plan is to keep the company focused.
Elements of a marketing plan include goals, identifying your target market, the correct message to that market, media you’ll use to reach that target, lead capturing, lead nurturing, sales conversion strategy, so on and so forth.
It sounds daunting, but it doesn’t need to be. In fact, we can simplify the marketing plan into goals and a simple one-page marketing plan organized by the buyer’s journey. I’ll use the Dawgbone drumstick manufacturing company for examples.
Once this top-level marketing plan is finalized, it should be clear how to craft your content marketing strategy to support this overall plan. Be sure to use the story telling method in your content marketing material.
The first part of any good marketing plan are well-defined goals. You may want to start right away with the content marketing strategy but how will you know if you’re efforts are making an impact? You’ll find that by creating goals for your company, you’ll be much more successful with your strategies.
The SMART goal framework is a simple method to assist you in developing your goals. Every business is different, so be sure to discuss with your team which goals are important and relevant.
Your goals should be well defined. Statements that are too broad are impossible to attain. If you made the statement goal “we need more website traffic, leads, and sales,” you wouldn’t be able to prove that you attained the goals, unless you used metrics. A better-defined goal would be “we need to increase website traffic by 50%, leads by 35%, and sales by 25% from the previous year.” If you were tracking all the metrics from the previous year, you would be able to compare to the following year and understand if the goals were achieved.
You need the ability to track change, whether the goals increase or decrease. Of course, most of the timeyou want to increase your KPIs. These KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) are solely up to you. Is it important for your company to increase sales, units sold, market share, awareness, new accounts, sales conversion rates, just to name a few? You might be tempted to choose all KPIs but that would be unrealistic. Only choose the ones that are most relevant to your business.
Attainable & Realistic
Would you be able to accomplish the goals you have set for yourself? You should push yourself but don’t shoot for goals that are too steep. If leads have only increased by 10% in the last few years, choosing to increase by 35% would be tough, 15% or even 20% increase might be more attainable, challenging, but attainable.
Your goals will likely fall into two categories, short and long-term. Most of your goals can be tracked in the short term (3/6/9 months) such as website traffic, conversions, engagement rates, and followed content. However, you may also have long-term (12/24/36) tracking goals such as brand loyalty, brand awareness, reputation, and search rankings.
The table below provides an example of goal tracking that uses a combination of short and long-term goals.
To keep it simple, all goals are setup with a 25 percent change.
The one-page marketing plan can be formatted into three sections that represent the buyer's journey with three section under each of those categories.
1. Awareness (Prospect)
a. Target Market – a group of consumers at which a product or service is aimed. [the drummers]
b. Message to the Target Market – craft a compelling message that grabs the attention of your target market and be consistent through all your marketing material. [durable drumsticks for any musical style]
c. Reaching the Target Market – how will you reach out to your target market and create awareness about your brand, products and services. [valuable content creation; blog articles, ebooks and videos hosted on website and distributed through e-mail, direct mailing; conduct webinars, tradeshow events]
2. Consideration (Lead)
a. Lead Capture System – Once you’ve found your customer be sure to get them into a database. [forms and e-mails delivered into sales and marketing group where they are processed into a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system]
b. Lead Nurturing System – take people from being vaguely interested in your products or service and get them to want to do business with you. [reach out to customers through e-mail, direct mailing and offer an ebook, use social media to promote blog articles]
c. Sales Conversion Strategy – how will you get those individuals to buy. Provide them with useful information. Remind them of your skills and the process for doing business. Eliminate obstacles and barriers. [create a trial program, send out free pairs of sticks]
3. Decision (Customer)
a. Delivering World Class Experience – wow the customer. Give them what they need, not what they think they want. [continue to share information with them and provide offers to try different types of stick models as they are released]
b. Increase Customer Lifetime Value – this explains how you plan to keep a customer. [create a loyalty program that offers new sticks to early adopters, make them feel like they’re part of the family]
c. Orchestrating and Stimulate Referrals – offer the customer a gift or voucher for a referral. [when a customer’s friend orders sticks online with a code they get a discount on next order]
This twenty chapter e-book includes research and planning, and a breakdown of content, digital, and events marketing strategies.
Brian Lundgren is a marketing professional, musician, and family man living in the Southeast region of Massachusetts.