Hello, 2016. And hello, big list of marketing goals that accompanies a new year. Do not be daunted. You’re refreshed, reinvigorated, and resolved to get it right this year, aren’t you? And I bet you have that content marketing plan done and in your back pocket, ready to whip out at a moment’s notice to prove you are not among the 68 percent of content marketers who don’t actually document a strategy at all (shame). Ok, maybe not. Clearly you are in the majority right now. But it’s not a camp you want to stay in. Those without a plan have been proven to be less successful in their content marketing efforts.
The year is young. You have time, so get going on that plan. And as you get to what I think is the fun part — where you get to actually focus on the themes and topics you are going to talk about — how will you make decisions on the types of content you’ll use to get those messages out to your audience? Do you just follow a standard formula? Weekly blog post, monthly email newsletter, and a webinar now and then? Or do you copy exactly what your most formidable competitor is doing to “keep up with the Joneses”?
I’ll cut right to the chase. Neither of those is the right answer.
Ok, you probably knew that. Fair enough. But how do you decide what content types are appropriate to include in your content marketing plan to make your efforts successful for 2016?
Here are five tips to get you moving in the right direction. These are not the keys to getting that whole plan built (you can find more help with that here), but at least you’ll be on the right path with the types of content you’re creating, which is a big part of the challenge.
1. Understand your audience. This is important for your whole plan, not just for identifying what kinds of content to create this year, so make sure you get it right. That said, it is critical to understand as it applies to types of content. Millennials have very different desires for how they want to engage with you than those of us who still might like their alumni magazines to arrive in their mailboxes, for instance. And some studies show that nearly half of all B2B buyers are, in fact, millennials — so you need to consider them. Take the time to research, survey, or analyze how your best prospects want to receive information from you. Base your choices on that. Do not, under any circumstances, create some type of content that you just always thought would be cool if you know that it won’t resonate with your audience. That’s a waste of precious budget and time.
2. Find out what tools your sales team needs. Sales and marketing need to work closely together. Some of the content you create can be very useful to your sales team at various stages of the buying funnel to address the needs and questions of their prospects. Case studies, data sheets, or eBooks can live on your website, but can often have even more impact when used to address a specific pain point expressed by a prospect. Ask the sales team what would be most useful to them and factor that into your planning.
3. Analyze your competitive research. Don’t do a content marketing plan without doing competitive research. Create a nice little chart that offers you a look at the types of content your competitors are developing. Then, take advantage of “windows” in the market where those folks are missing the boat by not creating anything. For example, if no one is doing webinars and you think your audience might respond to them, there’s a window you should jump through immediately.
4. Understand your budget and team. You might want to create LOTS of content … make a big splash, build your audience, establish your company as a thought leader. But that takes a lot of effort and usually, a lot of money. So be clear about how much content you actually can create based on your budget. You might want a blog post a week, but if you are counting on a freelancer or an outsourced marketing firm to help you out, you better be conscious of how much of your budget that weekly post will cost you and what will be left over for other types of content. Spread the wealth. You definitely don’t want to do just one thing. Rather, you need various types of content aimed at prospects in different stages of the buying funnel.
5. Use your content inventory and audit. Maybe you don’t have to create everything from scratch this year. Take the time to do an inventory and then an audit of all the content you’ve done to date as part of your planning. (Yes, these are different things. Think about inventory as quantitative and audit as qualitative.)
What pieces can be remarketed or repurposed into something new without reinventing the wheel? Ok, maybe this doesn’t quite address what types of content to create except that if you already have content but you haven’t actually marketed it, I’ve just helped you fill out your editorial calendar. And if you have some killer content and you can repurpose it into some of the content types that you determine you actually need, your life just got easier.
The types of content you choose to create this year should not be random. Those choices should come from your content marketing plan, and should meet the needs of your audience, help your sales team, and give you an advantage over your competition. Be strategic about your choices and about your planning.
If you need help getting your plan off the ground, download our eBook, “Build Your Content Marketing Plan: A 10-Step Guide.” For an extra leg up on the competition, get in touch and we’ll give you a hand.