Put your content plan first for simple effective marketing

Put your content plan first for simple effective marketing

Hana Dickinson, MD of The Bridge and creator of SuffolkWire, explains how a content plan is key to getting meaningful results from your marketing efforts.

It’s a new year and a fresh start. You have your shiny business objectives for this year and a robust plan and you’re ready to go.  So this question should be easy to answer. What do your target markets need to know to enable you to achieve these objectives?

For example, if your objective is to grow your customer base from 500 to 1000, what’s currently blocking those 500 customers from signing up?

Do they know about you? Do they understand the benefits your product or service offers? Do they know why you’ll be better to work with than your competitors? Do they feel confident that your business will value their custom? Do they feel you’re invested in the area and the business community? Do they understand the risks of not using the product or service you offer? Do they know where you came from and what you’ve achieved to date? Do they trust you and feel confident in you?

If not, it’s going to be far harder to double your customer base this year.

Many people look at the various marketing channels [Blog, Events, Social media, Email, PR, Promotions etc] and plan when and how frequently they will use them to communicate with clients, but when it comes to planning what they will say to their customers and why, there’s little time allocated. This runs the risk of the regular communications to your target market coming across as perfunctory and a maybe even superficial.

“We’re at this exhibition on this date. Come and see us.” or “We’re offering 2 for one on all gloves until Friday.”

So, what do your customers and potential customers need to know in order for you to meet your objectives?

Grab a pad, or even better get the team together, and gather your thoughts on things like: what does your business or brand stand for? What do people need to know about you to understand why they should be a customer, partner or ally? What do people need to know to establish your credibility and build trust? How can you explain the problem your business solves in a way that resonates with your potential customers?

In short, how can you get more people to realise you’re awesome and that they need you in their lives?

This is what having a content plan is all about. Figuring out the answers to these questions will help you to really engage with current and future customers, build your brand, and stay on message.

Once you have these topics, put them in a sensible order and then plan them out so you can see which topics you will cover in each month. One or two a month is just fine. Don’t over do it. Make sure your proposed topics fit with the rest of your marketing milestones (events, regulatory changes, tax year end, Black Friday etc).

How can you best tell your story?

How does your target market want to receive the information. Also known as the ‘Who cares’ test.

Nobody likes people who continually talk about themselves. Change it up. Flip it to be about them. Make it useful, relevant and interesting for the reader. For example,

  • Establish your credibility in your area of expertise by sharing your 10 top tips on how to [save money on / earn more from / streamline / improve / get more out of] something relevant to your industry or sector.
  • Remind people of your company’s illustrious history with a profile piece on the current CEO that looks at what’s gone before and the exciting future ahead.
  • Show how your product or services help others through a case study with quotes, stats and images from the client or customer.
  • Provide meaningful insights on a topic dear to your heart by undertaking some research and sharing the results in an engaging way.

Articles are great (they really are) but video is fast establishing itself as the best way to tell a story. There’s imagery and infographics too. Personally, I like a variety and that’s what I would recommend.

Find your drumbeat, roll out your plan

Regular content gives people a reason to keep coming back. And regular communications show you’re a well-oiled machine that can be relied on. This type of activity, called the ‘drumbeat’, is adopted by many of the world’s biggest brands.

let’s say you’re going to produce 2 pieces of meaty content per month. This might be articles or videos or infographics or whatever medium fits best. Each piece of content must be thoughful, useful to the audience and relevant to your objectives.

Each piece of content can then be the ‘star content’ for all your marketing channels for that month – email, social media, PR, speaking at events.

One good, well researched article or video will have numerous juicy nuggets that you can use to link to it from social media, for example, people respond to different hooks and triggers so squeeze every last opportunity from the content you create.

So, pick your own pace, and stick to it. Keep reminding the world that you’re there. And think about the best times to put out your message. When will people be most receptive to your content?

Having content scheduled and prepared in the run up to busy times means you can squeeze every last drop of potential from your marketing channels. And having it ready to go at the click of a mouse means you’re not scrambling to create content when things are frantic.

Get started, don’t put it off

Remember, when you’re choosing the topics you’ll focus on this year, to check back to make sure your content will help you to achieve your objectives and is relevant and interesting for your target market.

Now you know which chapter of your story you’re telling at any given time and that forms the basis of your marketing plan for the year.  A plan month by month covering the agreed topics your customers need to know to ensure your success will mean there’s no risk of putting out any unrelated, unclear messages.

Keep your content relevant by bringing it back to your customers’ needs, and how your product or service can help make their life easier/better/more rewarding.

Remember, you don’t have to give them the hard sell (in fact don’t do that at all), just help them to understand more about your sector, explain the issues you’re helping them overcome and provide guidance on how they can avoid common pitfalls and maximise gains.

Spotting what works

Monitor the success of your content marketing, and you’ll soon start to see what’s working, and what’s not. That way, you can tweak future content to give people more of what they want and share more of the content that gets you your desired results.

Want to chat about a content plan that gets maximum results from your marketing efforts? Get in touch.