Content marketing strategies are complex – for good reason. Dozens of skillets need to be mastered before a plan can yield consistently better results. Success takes time.
But what if you’re almost out of time?
What if you only have the next month or so to show that your content strategy has a chance of meeting its goals.
I’ve been in this situation with several clients. In each case, I advise that the CMO or Content Marketing Leader goes back to basics. Strip the complexity out of the plan and focus on three factors.
Your 3-Step Content Marketing Jumpstart Plan
Step #1. Understand and Set the Right Priorities
Content Marketing is the Strategy. Social Media is one of many tactics.
Content Marketing is often pigeonholed under the social media strategy. This categorization is unfortunate because the content marketing plan is forced to serve social media goals versus content marketing goals. It should be the reverse. Social Media activities should be dictated by the content marketing plan.
Get agreement on this before you move forward.
Sit with your leadership team and decide on how you will be measured. Don’t end the meeting until you are clear on a reasonable set of metrics. One of our clients, who is extremely savvy at operationalizing metrics, routinely uses three types of metric indicators:
- Activity: What is being done? What actions are being taken? This could be blog posts written, ebooks published, email campaigns launched.
- Leading: Metrics that change before the desired objective happens. Content marketing leading metrics include Social shares, blog post trackbacks, social media audience growth, unique visitors, % new visitors, etc. Leading indicators can be used to predict the performance of a program. Be careful, leading indicators are useful but not always accurate.
- Lagging: These are your Monday Morning Quarterback indicators because they quantify change that is already happening. Popular content marketing lagging indicators are revenue per subscriber and revenue per reader.
Regardless of the metrics used make sure that they are clear, easily obtained, and truly indicative of performance.
Step #2. Create and Relentlessly Work the Process
You should have a step-by-step process for:
- Content Creation: How does content get created?
- Content Scheduling and Publishing? How does your content build a story for other items in your marketing strategy?
- Content Distribution: Where do you distribute your content and how do you engage with content users?
- Influencer / Audience Activation: When and how do you use influencers to ignite distribution of your content. You can’t use this tactic for every piece of content but you should have a plan in place for when you need it.
- Subscriber Onboarding: What happens when a reader raises their hand and says “I want more!” Simply delivering another blog post isn’t good enough. You need a structured process to transform your new subscriber into a lead and customer.
- Content Optimization: How are you getting better? Who pulls your metrics? When do they do it? How will you evaluate and react to the data?
Effective content marketing teams work hard on the process. They understand that success takes care of itself if you have the right processes in place.
Step #3. Identify and Recruit the Right People
Content marketing needs skill players, a specific set craftsmen, artists, and engineers including:
- Writers: Journalists and skilled B2B writers create the foundational content. These craftsmen understand how to hook attention, deliver a logical and interesting story, and persuade their readers to take action.
- Graphic Designers: Designers extend your businesses brand design to content elements (eBooks, blog headers, infographics, social media profiles, etc.) Excellent design is just as important in content marketing as it is in the product marketing world.
- Analysts: A well-structured content marketing strategy relies heavily on data. This data needs to be real-time and easily compiled for review. This is a left-brained endeavour requiring someone who understands and loves data. This person also needs to have real experience working with CRM, analytics, and and optimization software.
This team isn’t cheap. Trying to nickel and dime your way to this level of proficiency will lead to delays and missed objectives. In our experience, the first priority is to get the best writers you can afford first. This will lead to an immediate quality jump in your content that leads to more traffic, conversions, and so on.
If you have the right people and still are struggling then review Step #2. Usually, the strategy is being hobbled by an inefficient process that makes it difficult for your people to produce and publish their work.
If you have the wrong people, identify the skill gaps and create a training plan. If the skill gap is significant, find new people.
What Are You Going To Do?
Get unstuck assemble what you know and take a concrete action toward getting your content strategy moving again.
Three steps is all it takes to get moving again.