A big hello from Portland, Oregon. Welcome to another episode of B2B Marketing and More. I’m your host Pam Didner. I’m a B2B marketer through and through, and I know that our work can be complex. Today, I’m doing a solo episode, and I want to answer one specific question from one of my community members: “How do I put a content marketing plan together?”
In this episode:
- What is content marketing?
- What are the different types of content?
- Why should businesses care about content marketing?
- What is the purpose of the content marketing plan?
- How to build the winning content marketing plan?
- What are some of the critical elements you need to incorporate into a successful content marketing plan?
- What are the benefits of content in addition to monetization, growing revenue, and gaining followers?
- How can businesses decide which content they should create?
- Ten questions any content marketing plan should answer.
Quotes from the episode:
“There are many benefits of content. One of them is that you control the narrative. You have total control over what you say, when and how. Also, use content to showcase your thought leadership, optimize for search and increase inbound traffic.”
“Content marketing in the digital world is complicated and messy. Just acknowledge that. Knowing how to put the plan together is a core capability that you need to think strategically and connect different thoughts.”
A big hello from Portland, Oregon. Welcome to another episode of B2B Marketing and More. I’m your host Pam Didner. I’m a B2B marketer through and through, and I know that our work can be complex. I understand. I regularly consult with marketing and sales enablement teams, lead workshops, and host webinars with a simple mission to simplify that complexity. I created this podcast to show you how you can think strategically and logically to approach marketing challenges.
Sound good? Let’s get started!
I’m doing a solo episode today. The last time I did this was back on September 9th, 2020. Oh my God! That sounds like two centuries ago in pandemic years. It’s hard to track the day in time in the past year. You know exactly, exactly what I’m talking about.
Most of the episodes you have listened to are our interview formats for all new listeners out there. For about two and a half years, I did 136 episodes of only me talking. That sounds quite boring. Right? But my episodes back then were much, much shorter. It was about answering one marketing question, seven to 10 minutes at a time. So today, I want to answer one specific question from one of my community members.
“Hey, Pam, how do I put a content marketing plan together?”
Oh my God! That is my favorite topic. So here’s what I’ll cover today. What is content marketing? Why should you care? And how to put the plan together. Then, what are some of the key elements you need to incorporate into that plan? So let’s get started.
What is content marketing? Well, let’s be very literal for a second. Content marketing uses the content as a means to retain your existing customers and attract new customers. Nothing more, nothing less. That is it. Except that content you share needs to be relevant, useful, and or fun, right? Relevant, useful and or fun.
You see a lot of YouTubers create content to monetize, which is to grow revenue. That’s no different than B2B marketing, right? They don’t create content for the sake of creating content. They create content to monetize, which is to grow revenue. So what are all the benefits of content in addition to monetization and growing revenue, and gaining followers?
Well, number one, control your narrative. You have total control over what you say, when to say and how to say it. Number two, build authority. Use content to showcase your thought leadership yet experience expertise and know-how. Yay! Number three, optimize for search. Google loves content. You can use target keywords and also search-driven topics to write content to improve your organic ranking. Number four, increase inbound traffic. You share content on various social media platforms or pay platforms to drive traffic to your websites.
Next, generate leads, create strong and crisp calls to action to tell prospects, contact sales, try your products, or get in touch. Right? So is generating leads. Another benefit is improved conversions for the sales team. Sales can use the content as conversational openers to engage with prospects. Of course, you can also use content to build brand awareness, right? Drive traffic to your website, and also elevate yourself. Make sure people are aware of the products that you are selling.
There are many benefits of content marketing, and content marketing is a way to go, especially on the B2B side. So what are the different types of content? Well, there are two ways. From my perspective, I will classify the content. Number one is classification by ownership–original versus the third party versus user-generated content. Original content, obviously the content created by you. Third-party content, well, that was content created by someone else: user-generated content, the content generated by your community members or followers.
Another way to differentiate content is by format – Text versus audio versus video. Blogs, infographics case studies, eBooks, white papers, and checklists templates form text-centric content. Podcasts, aha, audio-driven. Videos, webinars, definitely video type of content, right? Of course, that can be a combination of different formats, right? Depending on how you create your courses and the flow of the materials, it can be Text, audio, or video. Oh, there’s another content type that is often overlooked interactive content. Some great example is that quizzes, polls, gamification, or even AR/VR types of content that allow the audience to engage with your brands or offer an immersive experience that you want to share. There’s no need to split hairs into different types of content, but you get the gist of it in terms of how to classify them.
So why content should you create? Well, my question to you is, what formats do your customers consume your content? Understand their format and content consumption preferences and then use that to guide you in the decision-making of the content you want to create. Is that helpful? To understand your buyer’s persona and what type of formats they prefer to see your content and take it from there.
Now let’s talk about putting a plan together. So what is a purpose of a plan? We use a plan to explain what you will do, when, whom, where, how and how much. So it’s really about answering when whom, how, what and how much. But the trick is not about what you want to say; it’s about saying in a way that your management and internal stakeholders can understand.
Every company’s content marketing plan is different, but they are answering ten questions. You don’t have to memorize them. They are common sense. So I’m going to read them out loud.
Number 1: what do we want to accomplish with content marketing?
Number 2: who is our audience?
Number 3: how do we measure our success?
Number 4: how much money is required?
Number 5: what strategy and key tactics are needed to accomplish our goals.
Number 6: what countries and languages are our priority?
Number 7: who should do what on editorial planning and content creation?
Number 8: what is our messaging?
Number 9: what challenges will we encounter in implementing content marketing?
Number 10: what should be done? When? and by whom?
So you should start with a marketing two-pager. If you have heard my episodes in the past, I often mention this specific marketing two pagers. In your plans, you need to articulate how business objectives tie to marketing objectives, how marketing objectives tie to your content marketing objectives. And that’s what I call two-pagers. And suppose your internal stakeholders agree with you on your two-pager. In that case, they agree with you on marketing objectives, content marketing objective, content marketing strategy, target persona, language and country priorities, key content marketing tactics, and the key performance indicators. So these are the key elements that you can put in a table format. Usually, it’s about two slides. Right.
So, as I said, start with your marketing objectives. Then you move on to content marketing objectives. With that, you should explain your marketing strategy–that’s “how.” And then the target persona language priorities, key content marketing tactics that you will do and how you’re going to measure your success. Two-pager. So that format has worked well for many of my clients. And a lot of time, they will use the two pages as the cover of their marketing plans. And many of them will modify my templates, add and delete elements as they see fit. And you should do that as well.
The next section of your plan is the buyer persona. In your content plan, you should articulate for whom you create content. Your personas should be aligned with the corporate or business units personas. If you decide to create content for different sets of customers, you need to explain why. You also need to explain any decision if you choose not to support specific corporate or business unit customers because they will ask you why you are not supporting these customers. The key thing is that you can’t support all your company’s personas. You only have finite resources and a budget, so you need to prioritize. Then communicate your decision clearly with your management and internal stakeholders. Right?
The next section is really about messaging and the value proposition. A messaging framework is a logical structural representation of your products and services, unique promises and differentiation. I created a four-part series, A Messaging Framework videos and audios. On the audio part, feel free to listen to episodes 101-104 or Google search “How to Create a Messaging Framework” by Pam Didner. You should see my blog post, and I attached the template at the bottom of that blog post if you want to check all the templates. It’s nice to share the talking points of your key products as a part of the content marketing plan so you’ll manage them and knows what you will communicate when you create the content.
The next section is an editorial plan and the content roadmap. It’s great to include a slide about what list of content you plan to produce over the year or the next several quarters? Part of the editorial calendar should also include product launches that you will support. It helps management get a sense of what you will do to support major product launches. Does that make sense? Many content pieces need to be created for product launches, and you want to be part of that.
On the B2B side, your content is likely to be product- or technology-driven because it’s easy to get subject matter experts to contribute content based on the product and technical expertise. That’s great. But the key is, you don’t need to show all the content you’ll produce as a part of this section because sometimes it’s many, many content pieces. Focus on the content that will generate the most downloads, most views, or the content with the highest budget allocated to it was some of the hero content. Right. The key is don’t overwhelm yourself that you feel that you have to include every single piece of content that you create. Focus on the top, you know, like 80-20 rules, the top key content pieces from your perspective that, uh, is important for lunches or key products.
The next one is key initiatives. Right? What challenges do you encounter in implementing content marketing? Why should it be done? When? and by whom? Create a slide to summarize some of the key initiatives you want internal stakeholders or senior management to know about.
The last action is budget. Many marketers choose not to show the budget as part of the marketing plans. And I can understand that, right? They want to keep the budget very close. They don’t want to share. For content marketing, I suggest that you share how much it costs for different types of content–even translation and localization, based on your editorial planning. You need to make sure that people understand that thing is not free. This is not something that, okay, you can write a blog post, then everything will be hunky-dory. No, it doesn’t work that way. Very good content required time and effort to put together. And sometimes, it also requires a designer or has a proper layout, and it does take time and effort, and the content is not free. And it’s very important to educate senior management and internal stakeholders about that.
So here is the reality. Content marketing in the digital world is complicated and messy. Just acknowledge that. In the past, you can create a blog post and call it done. When a blog post is created, you need to promote it on different social media channels. You also need to repurpose the content to different formats, and your copy for different social media channels may also need to be different. It’s a complete total hot mess. So my advice to you is to know how to put the plan together. To me, that’s a core capability that you need to have to be able to think strategically and connect different thoughts. Once you know how to put the plan together, focus on your key tasks, the scope of your job. Right. It’s important to have a comprehensive view of content marketing. You need to know how to put the plan together, what content will be produced, how it will be promoted, and how it will be measured. I call that “the 4 Ps of content marketing”–planning, production, promotion, and perfection, which is measurements.
Another thing I want to share with you. Content, as I said, content marketing can be very complicated. I wrote a 2,800-word Ultimate Content Marketing Guide. If you are a reader, check all my blog posts. Go to pamdidner.com and click on the resources page. You can see the Ultimate Content Marketing Guide was published on April 2nd, 2021.
I love content marketing. I love hot mess (laughs). If you have any questions about content marketing or how to put a plan together, feel free to book a call with me. PamDidner.com under Contact. So it’s a wrap, more solo episodes to come! Take care. Bye!
I love hearing from my podcast. Listeners, feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram, or you can shoot me an email. It’s firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you are looking to learn more about content marketing, sales enablement, strategic planning, account-based marketing, or anything B2B marketing related, head over to my website PamDidner.com. You’ll find videos, blog posts, templates, and much more to help you on your B2B journey. Again, thank you so much for listening. See you back here next week.
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To expand your knowledge about the content marketing plan, check out some of my previous podcast episodes and blog posts.