Failing to make a content plan is playing the hangman’s game
Table of Contents
Do you remember the Hangman’s game? The one where you had to guess letters to complete a word. The one where the more mistakes you made, the closer you got to the gallows. Well, it is the same situation if you fail to make a content plan.
Guessing what your audience needs leads you to make mistakes until you end up hanging. Hanged by the poor performance of your content. Due to the lack of time to create them. Hanged by the absence of ideas because you are left with a blank page, and you don’t know what to post. It happens to everyone, even to us who are in the business of creating content.
One thing is to be flexible and adapt your content to the moment, and another is to publish without clear direction. Therefore, planning and creating a content plan is essential to achieve your goals.
What is a content plan for?
A content plan includes the entire strategy for the creation and distribution of content. This plan will let you know what to publish, the best times for doing it, and the most appropriate channels and formats. Moreover, you can do it for both your business brand and your personal brand.
Do not play hangman with your content. If you have a content plan, you will be able to:
On the other hand, if you make a complete plan that reflects your entire strategy, it will help you to:
Steps to avoid being hung in the game of contents
Avoid guessing. While occasionally, you get it right, usually you are closer to the gallows. And who puts the noose around your neck? Your customers. That is why it’s important to know where you are, where you’re coming from and where you’re going. This requires you to follow a process.
Depending on the source, there will be more or fewer steps to follow. As I see it, it is better to be as detailed as possible. Therefore, I outline the steps that I consider necessary for a good content plan.
You will also find different interpretations regarding the sequence. For example, many sources will tell you that the ideal customer comes first and then the objectives. To some extent that is true. However, my approach in this article goes from most general to most specific. The reason is simple: you should know who your ideal customer is from the beginning, even before you make the plan. That is undoubtedly true, but you must also know what your company wants to achieve with the whole strategy.
Plan your steps without having the noose around your neck
Step 1: Analyze your current situation
Before you start playing, analyze where you are. Don’t walk straight to the execution area. The first thing you should do is focus on what your company needs and what it needs to achieve. To do this:
a)Identify which is the company’s growth strategy. No matter if it is a large or small company, there is always a goal to achieve. For example:
- Increase in revenues
- Profit improvement
- Launch of new products
- Entry into new markets
- Market share increase
b) Audit the contents of your website, blog, social networks and those of your competitors. This way, you will know where you and your competitors stand. Some aspects that you should analyze are:
c) Prepare a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats). This analysis should be focused on the content strategy.
Remember that weaknesses and strengths are internal aspects, inherent to your company and brand. While threats and opportunities are external factors that can affect your business.
Step 2: Set your objectives and assign metrics and KPIs
Don’t play if you don’t understand why you are doing it. To understand it, set the objectives of your content plan based on the company’s growth strategy. They must be aligned with the global objectives and work according to them. In addition, they must be realistic and consider the budget and resources available.
In general terms, ask yourself what the purpose of your content is. What you expect your audience to do after consuming it and the value they will give to your business. Why should you do this? Because there are contents that work better for some objectives than for others.
This is when you should know who your ideal customer is to be able to set your objectives. It doesn’t mean that you must have a detailed description, just that you must know who it is.
Some common objectives for a content plan are:
- Increase brand recognition. This objective is quite common when the company is starting up, wants to enter a new market or launch a product.
- Improve audience engagement. It is used to increase market share by improving brand image and reputation.
- Increase website traffic.
- Build or expand your database.
- Gain potential customers (leads).
- Increase marketing ROI. It is used, among others, when you want to reduce costs, increase sales, or have other sources of income.
- Retention and customer loyalty. To improve profits, by increasing customer value.
During the objectives setting process, it is important to differentiate between objectives and goals. This means that you should set both. Each objective should have its own goals.
Goals are broader and state what you want to achieve. Objectives are specific and measurable. They are aligned with your goals and set the path to follow.
For example, if your goal is to improve your brand awareness, one objective would be to increase the reach of your social networks. However, you should detail this objective further.
Make sure your objectives are SMART. When you set them. They should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound. Finally, assign metrics and KPIs to each objective for monitoring. This way you will know if you have achieved your objectives or if you need to improve your strategy.
Step 3: Create your Buyer Persona
Who will watch you play? Who will attend your execution? Imagine an audience around a gallows while you try to save your neck. That will be your audience. The one who will decide whether you deserve their attention or not.
This is one of the most important aspects for the success of your content plan. Creating effective content requires knowing your audience. Know who your audience is and what they are interested in. As well as where they are, who their influencers are, their barriers to purchase and their objections.
You can create content for different buyer personas, but you must keep in mind that the strategies will be different. Creating content for your customer database is not the same as creating content for an audience that does not know you. You also must consider where your ideal customer is in the funnel.
On the other hand, it is better to target a specific audience and not a more general one. Everyone wants to be well known, but what’s the point of reaching everyone if those people won’t buy your product? Or what’s the point of writing for many people if you don’t provide enough value?
If you would like to know more about the ideal customer, read our article about the Buyer Persona.
Step 4: Identify relevant themes
What appeals to the viewers of your possible execution? Does the whole process of completing the word appeal to them? Is it interesting or entertaining to them? That is what you need to find out.
The Buyer persona tells you what your customers’ interests are. With this information and the stage of the funnel they are in, you will be able to select the themes. For example, if your customer is at the top of the funnel, they are seeking information to understand their problem. While those at the bottom of the funnel are looking for details, so they can decide.
Now it is important to know what your brand territories are because the themes will be aligned with them. If your brand territory is wellness, the themes should revolve around healthy living, sports, etc. You should also group the themes by category and purpose (educate, convince, inspire, or entertain).
The keyword study complements this point. Here we outline and brainstorm possible themes and trends, and then analyze and complete them in the next step.
Step 5: Research keywords and analyze themes
What arguments will you use to defend yourself? What is the logic you will use to guess the word and not get hanged? It is the same with keywords and themes.
In the process of making the content plan you already know the interests, brand territories and themes. Now you must validate and expand them. How? With a keyword research.
This research gives you the terms used by your audience in search engines. It guides you on the most in-demand words and topics and their competitiveness level. Furthermore, it is a perfect guide to know their search intent. For example, when you search for a word, you can identify if their searches have a transactional, informational, or navigational intent. In other words, if they want to buy a product or get information on the topic.
You should also analyze the keywords used by your competitors and those with better performance. In a keyword research, you should consider: –>
You will use these keywords in your titles, texts, meta description, images, etc. You must group them and choose the main and secondary keywords.
Step 6: Determine your resources and decide on the channels you plan to be in
If you play blind man’s buffalo, you don’t need to know where you’re going, but in the content game you do. For a good content plan to work, you must be realistic. Therefore, analyze your budget, your staff, your time, and your tools to create content.
Once you understand the scope of your resources, you choose the channels. Your website should be your main platform, since it is an owned resource that does not depend on third parties. However, you also need other channels to promote your business and attract traffic. For instance, social networks and other media.
As you can read in many sources, you shouldn’t be on every social network. You must choose the ones that best suit to:
- Your objectives
- Your brand image and that of the network (professional, youthful, casual, etc.).
- The traffic you want to get.
- Where your ideal client is and their preferred formats.
- Your ability to generate content for that social network.
- Your time and staff resources to serve them.
In summary, select the channels based on where you can and must be present and where your ideal customer is.
Step 7: Design strategies and content types
I mentioned earlier that you should know where your ideal customer is in the sales funnel. This knowledge is essential to complete the word before they hang you. You must match the stage your customer is in with the objective, the theme, and the type of content.
An ideal client at the top of the funnel doesn’t know you or that he or she has a need. Therefore, provide them with educational information in the right format that will help them understand their problem. For example, if you are a nutritionist, create a blog post or a video with nutrition tips. At this stage, your goal is usually branding or traffic.
If he or she is in the middle of the funnel, he or she already has a need and is aware of it. Provide them with content that allows them to evaluate your products or services. For example, a downloadable template to calculate the calories they consume.
When your prospect is in the last stage of the funnel, the goal is sales and conversion. You can include testimonials from your customers telling how they improved their health with your help. Also think about whether your content will be evergreen or trendy. Whether you will curate content or create it.
Step 8: Build your editorial calendar
Do you know what day the trial to condemn you to hang or not will take place? Have you prepared yourself to face it? It is the same with your posts. Creating effective content requires planning and preparing it in advance. That’s why you need to make a content plan that includes an editorial calendar.
The calendar is useful to ensure that you do not duplicate content or topics. To prevent you from missing opportunities, ensure that you meet your objectives and publish regularly.
Some people make separate calendars for social media, web and blog. However, I prefer to put them together in a single document because that way you have a global overview of your strategy.
The editorial calendar should include the following: –>
You should prepare a general annual calendar, a detailed monthly calendar, and a weekly calendar, which is the final step. This will enable you to work as a team and monitor the stages of each project.
Step 9: Prepare the style guide of your brand
What image will you present as you play hangman? How is the gallows being built? All of this is important for your acquittal. That’s why you need to have a style guide. It is a document that helps ensure brand consistency in everything you create. The idea is that your posts are associated with your brand at once.
The guide is useful when your content is done by third parties or there are several writers for a brand. It should include: –>
Step 10: Plan how to promote your content
You have been saved from the gallows! You have guessed the word, but what if no one has heard about it? Furthermore, you have put all that effort into creating great content and no one sees it. That’s why you need to promote your content. For this, you should:
- Share your content on social networks.
- Distribute them through newsletters.
- Implement a Linkbuilding strategy (guest posts, comments on posts).
- Advertise on social networks (promoted posts).
Step 11: Include content tracking in your plan
Now, how do you guarantee that you won’t risk playing hangman again? By measuring and adjusting.
Making a content plan is not just about planning, creating, publishing and distributing. Afterwards, there is a process of improvement, reinforcement and updating. For this, it is necessary to track all your posts. In step 2 you already established the objectives and metrics needed to achieve them.
By tracking this, you will be able to know which contents are working better. If you are achieving your objectives and if not, how to fix it. This is not a one-time exercise; it is an ongoing one.
Remember, if you are going to play, make sure you win. Create your content plan.
Do you need help with your content?
If you would like us to design your content strategy, tell us what you need. We’ll be delighted to talk to you.
References and links:
- How to Develop a Content Strategy: Start with These 3 Questions. Content Marketing Institute. Jodi Harris. September the 3rd, 2019.
- Plan de marketing de contenidos en 30 días. Roberto Páramo. Published independently. August the 5th, 2019.
- Cómo crear una Estrategia de Contenidos para un blog. Rubén Mañez.
- Cómo crear un plan de contenidos paso a paso desde cero. Semrush. Jesús Madurga López. April the 13th, 2016.
- Practical Content Strategy & Marketing: The Content Strategy & Marketing Course Guidebook. Julia McCoy. November the 27th, 2017.