Written by Kayleigh Alexandra
Getting into content marketing without a framework is a recipe for failure, yet it’s a mistake that plenty of businesses still make. They throw out occasional blog posts, choosing topics at random and somehow expecting them to yield results — which they inevitably don’t. It takes consistent output for content marketing to prove impactful.
And consistency on that level isn’t achieved through ad-hoc engagement. It’s the product of commitment, dedication, and planning. Everything must be lined up neatly to ensure that reader expectations are met or exceeded. Quality and quantity must remain high. This isn’t easy to manage, of course, but it’s entirely possible if you’re willing to make it a priority.
Since planning high-level content requires the creation of content planning solutions that can handle everything from queuing posts to assessing key metrics, that needs to be your first step. It poses a significant challenge, though, and you need to get your approach right. Let’s run through four core things that you need to consider in the development process.
The skills your employees can offer
What’s the essential ingredient of content production? The sine qua non? There’s only one answer that makes sense: human endeavor. Sure, it’s now technically possible for systems powered by machine learning to generate grammatically-coherent posts, but that’s only “viable” if your singular intent is spooling out material to occupy space and give the illusion of content. Those posts will never pass muster. Even the apathetic reader can spot their seams.
In the end, it’s your human resources that will dictate the success of your content marketing, so you need to deploy them correctly. That means looking past the set roles you’ve assigned to your employees and determining what else they bring to the table. Maybe your office manager dabbles in graphic design during their free time, or your IT support specialist happens to be exceptionally proficient at ideating and designing infographics.
The onus is on you to uncover and use those skills to maximum effect. You’ll need to incentivize this appropriately, of course, ensuring that the relevant employees want to be using their broader skills (whether because they enjoy mixing things up or because you’re rewarding them handsomely), but the result will be a massive improvement in productivity and content quality.
The brand image you want to cultivate
How would you like your target audience to view your company? What traits should they associate with you? Are you deadpan? Formal? Jovial? Will you focus on digestible short-form content for those with moments to spare, showcasing a breadth of understanding, or build around tentpole pieces of industry-leading insight? It’s entirely up to you — but you need to figure this out before you start consistently producing content.
This is because a strong content plan will fall in line with a full set of brand guidelines. Those guidelines must detail everything from how the brand name can be stylized to what tone each piece of content should strike. Without such overarching restrictions, quality and quantity can go to waste because the content doesn’t form a comprehensible body of work. Everything you produce should be recognizably yours.
The software you’re going to use
It’s said that a bad professional blames their tools, but this isn’t because the tools don’t matter: it’s because a key part of their job is ensuring that they have the right tools at all times, selecting and maintaining them with absolute discipline. And if you’re going to be producing content on a regular basis, you need to have the right tools in place to make it happen.
Combin tools are obviously perfect examples here. Managing social media posting can soak up huge amounts of time if left unchecked, for instance, and the Combin Scheduler makes it easy to frame and queue content. Repetitive tasks are the best to automate, and there are two big reasons why: firstly, they use simple processes that make straightforward workflows, and secondly, they’re sufficiently dull that they often lead to human error if handled manually.
You need to think about what other forms of content you want to produce, though, and look around for appropriate solutions. You may want to invest in self-service customer support to add value and save you time, in which case knowledge base software such as Crisp can steer your efforts in the right direction. Want to produce eye-catching infographics with elements of animation? Give Flourish a shot. In general, you should take advantage of social proof and free trials to find the tools that work best for you.
The specific goals you need to reach
There are several good reasons to work on marketing content. It’s fun, particularly when your chosen brand identity allows you to relax and show some personality. It’s informative, as every piece you write or produce will add to your repertoire in some minor or major way. By far the most significant, though, is that it can make you money. That is, after all, the core of business. If you want to stay in operation, you need to be making money.
Yet another common issue with content marketing is that companies don’t identify specific goals they want to reach. They have vague notions in mind about growing in popularity, but they don’t have anything they can consistently track — and if you don’t know exactly how things are going, you can’t know when you need to course-correct. A smart content marketing plan will pick out specific metrics to follow, and allow sufficient flexibility to accommodate necessary changes.
Creating compelling marketing content isn’t easy, even with a capable team and a substantial budget. It’s imperative that you commit a lot of time early on to nail the planning stage. Only then can you proceed with confidence that you can learn from your mistakes and slowly but surely develop a winning strategy.
Overall, if you can take the four things we’ve identified here into account when developing content planning solutions, you’ll soon find yourself in a strong position. Good luck.