Developing a content planning process is irreplaceably vital to not only finding direction in your online content, but effectively managing both your time and available content creation assets. A content plan includes the guidelines your brand will use to steer your content creation process towards developing effective content that your brand should be producing based on your brand’s purpose and what your target audience is looking for. According to Content Marketing Institute, a mere 27 percent of B2C and 48 percent of B2B marketers have developed and implemented content planning. The lack of planning in the industry means there is an awful lot of content floating around the Internet that lacks direction. It’s akin to shooting in the dark and hoping the content resonates with an audience.
It all starts with answering the question “what are we trying to do?” Are you trying to raise brand awareness, sell a product, expand your customer base, close sales with existing customers, or stay relevant to repeating customers? Taking the time to understand your brand’s purpose is an essential first step to developing a content planning strategy. Before you’re ready to determine who is within your target audience and what the people within the audience criteria have to benefit from your content, you need to understand what it is you’re trying to accomplish as a brand or business.
It may seem simple for some brands like an online retail shop: the goal is always to sell more products over the Internet. The example retail shop may sale something like shoes, so they would determine that their purpose is to sell shoes to new and returning customers. However, other brands may have completely different missions. For example, a hypothetical automobile industry news website may determine its purpose is to go on the record about industry news and inform the audience that is interested in their specific type of news in a casual, conversational tone. However, a business like a local gym may have a more difficult time deciding what kind of purposeful content they aim to create. The gym could decide they want to provide content that engages their existing members to retain their business or reach out to potential members through current members.
After you’ve established your content planning focal point, you are ready to either generate or buy content. If you buy content through a third party, understanding the purpose makes it much easier to suggest things like article and blog topics. More specific content requests will return content that better serves your brand’s purpose. However, content plans are a living document: they can be adjusted or reworked when appropriate. Some brands may find themselves in a position where they have more than one goal and that’s fine; however, spreading yourself too thin for your content creation capacity can cause the plan to backfire. Starting with two focal points and reducing it to one can be a part of the process. If your content purpose isn’t working out, it is okay to change it to something different. If the business climate changes it’s okay to revise your goals at a later date. Your audience’s desired content may change over time and it’s up to you to adjust with it.
Dan S. is a former news journalist turned web developer and freelance writer. He has a penchant for all things tech and believes the person using the machine is the most important element.