It should come as no surprise to the regular readers of this blog that we’re about to propose that you spend some time planning. Don’t worry – we’re not talking about the 25 people on a corporate retreat in the Bahamas, hire a professional meeting facilitator, boondoogle-esque planning session (although that does sound like a good time).
In step 5, you took a content inventory. You’re now familiar with the weapons at your disposal. You know what you have, don’t have, and what needs to be revised and optimized. Step 6 is all about creating a content roadmap that will guide you throughout the year.
The content roadmap doesn’t have to be a complicated piece. There are dozens of ways to attack this step, with thousands of slight variations to be made specific to each organization. That being said, don’t touch this step unless your core message has been refined and you know the target audience you’re trying to reach (and influence) with your content.
So let’s lay out a simple way to build this content roadmap. Start with a table. It doesn’t matter how or where you build it – use Word, use Excel, create an HTML table in a web page – whatever works for you.
Create 8 columns in your table:
Type of Content
Description of Content
Feel free to add others that seem relevant, but these categories address most of our needs for this planning stage. Each content type becomes a row. Now, here’s what we’re going to do with each:
Type of Content
This column lists all the different forms of content that belong in your content marketing plan. Website content, white papers, ebooks, press releases, bylined articles, blog posts, webinars…the list goes on and on.
Go ahead and start with an exhaustive list, then narrow it down based on 1) what you deem to be highest priority and 2) the resources at your disposal.
Description of Content
In this column, describe the content. What is a white paper vs. an ebook vs. a case study? How will you differentiate your corporate video from a customer video?
You’re most likely writing these descriptions for an external audience – your CEO, advisors and other stakeholders. We tend to assume everyone knows what these pieces of content are, but most people have no idea. Spend the time writing the descriptions, or borrow them from someone else who has already written them.
Be realistic here. How many webinars can you tackle annually? Do you have the resources (and the material) to knock out 3-4 white papers, and are 3-4 white papers even necessary?
Certain pieces of content, like an email newsletter, ought to be delivered on a consistent monthly or quarterly schedule. Others, like a case study, might be listed as 6x/year, but without a specific schedule. That’s your call.
Where will this content live? One of the most common content marketing mistakes is providing a single home for your content. Be generous, and get a second or third home for your brilliant content.
Let’s say you’ve developed some type of one-sheet PDF on a particular product offering. Perhaps you even printed 2500 copies. That’s great. Now give it a home on your website, your blog, on syndicated content portals, etc.
Once you’ve developed the content, who and where will you distribute it? Let’s say case studies are on your list. Here’s our distribution for a typical case study:
I wouldn’t get too stuck on this at the moment, but if you’re going to create all this content, you ought to be tracking it in some form or fashion. You want to know which pieces of content – or content categories – are most valuable.
For each piece of content, decide if you want to measure things like web traffic, conversions, views, downloads, placements, syndication, or some other measure. Just make sure that you’re realistic about what is measureable so you’re not setting the wrong expectations.
It may be more appropriate to call this “Content Creator” as content isn’t all about the writing. Like anything else on your marketing priority list, you want to assign an owner. That owner may not end up being the person that actually does the content creation, but who is ultimately responsible for the pieces? This is also where you might start talking about resources – writers, designers, coders, etc.
You already know what I am going to say here. Don’t write it if you’re not going to distribute it. Who will own the content distribution process for each component on your list? Assuming you or someone else will “own” the content marketing roadmap, that person should also own the distribution process. Sure, that owner will rely on others to distribute via social media, a marketing automation platform or via email, but someone needs to check all those channels off the list for each content release.
That’s it. This is a very unintimidating way to address the content roadmap. We can all build a simple table, and using the abundant resources from places like this blog, Junta 42, Content Marketing Today and B2B Bloggers, you should be able to nail this step in a day.
Don’t forget to catch up on steps 1-5 of this B2B lead generation series, covering the areas you should address before building your content roadmap.