By this time, many businesses and digital marketers may have already realized that content marketing is not just some fad that you should do – because everyone else is doing it – but rather a very important strategic asset that will boost profitable results across all digital marketing channels.
2014 was a huge year for content marketing and current trends still point to an even bigger year, just like what Smart Insight’s highlighted placing content marketing as the most important marketing channel in the 2015 Digital Marketing Trends poll.
Businesses from all markets and verticals are making concrete plans for boosting their content marketing efforts, like B2B marketers increasing their content marketing budgets and creating more content than what they ever did before.
Other businesses should heed these trends and start performing concrete action towards a more robust content marketing plan – starting with these top trends to watch out this 2015.
2015 is Here… Is Your Content Marketing Ready?
Using the provided Content Marketing Strategy Worksheet and Template below, you can begin getting organized and start creating, publishing, sharing, and promoting content to directly and indirectly build your brand and business over the year.
First, use the Content Marketing Strategy Worksheet below to capture all of the information about your micro- and macro-environments. This includes information about your industry, competitors, business, products, services, brand, employees, consumers, budget, and goals.
Once you complete the content marketing strategy worksheet, you can objectively review where your business and brand are and where they need to go in the short- and long-term to be successful.
I. Current Business Environment Analysis
Describe both the micro- and macro-environments of your business and industry as they are right now.
II. Brand Promise and Positioning Statements
Identify your brand’s reason for existing and the value it delivers to consumers. Describe your brand’s position relative to its direct and indirect competitors.
III. Competitor Analysis
Create a detailed list of your competitors, their products, their online destinations, their marketing efforts, their content publishing, and their competitive advantages and disadvantages. Use this information to identify what differentiates your brand from the competition.
IV. Customer Analysis
Describe your target audience and segment consumers into unique buyer personas. Identify their reasons for buying your brand or competitor brands, and what is most important to them when they purchase products like yours. Describe what you can deliver to customers that meets those wants and needs. Also, define where your audience spends time online.
Define the budget you have available to you over the next 12 months to invest in content marketing efforts as well as the labor and time you have available to dedicate to content marketing each day.
Identify the top three goals you want to accomplish in the next 12 months.
Content Marketing Strategy Template
Once you’ve completed the Content Marketing Strategy Worksheet, you can use that data to complete the Content Marketing Strategy Template below. The template can help you clarify your strategy, so you can develop marketing tactics in a comprehensive content marketing plan that will enable you to carry out your strategy and reach your goals.
I. Executive Summary
Give an overview of your content marketing strategy for the next 12 months. Hint: it’s often easiest to write the Executive Summary last.
Define specific goals that you plan to achieve through your content marketing initiatives during the next 12 months. Any content marketing tactics that you later develop should always tie back to one of the goals in this section of your content marketing strategy.
III. Customer Hangouts
List the websites (i.e., specific URLs) for all of the online destinations where your target audience already spends time and actively engages by publishing content, sharing content, or commenting on content. Identifying these websites requires some research, but these are the primary places you’ll interact with your target audience and listen to their conversations as part of your content marketing research and promotion development efforts.
IV. Competitor Content Offerings
Identify the websites (i.e., specific URLs) where your competitors already publish content and actively engage with your target audience. These are websites that you will need to monitor to identify threats and find opportunities which can lead to targeted content marketing promotional tactics.
List the specific names of online influencers as well as the websites where they publish content and engage your target audience. These are the people who not only have the eyes and ears of your target audience, but they’ve also already built trust with your target audience. You need to be on the radar screens of these influencers as part of your content marketing plan, so be sure to identify them in your strategy template.
VI. Content Forms
Identify the types of content you should create to carry out your strategy. Don’t get specific (this isn’t your content marketing plan document), but do define the types of long-form (e.g., blogs, ebooks, white papers, presentations, etc.), short-form (original Twitter or LinkedIn posts, Instagram pictures, Pinterest pins, etc.), or conversational (retweets, Facebook comments, forum posts, etc.) content you can create and how often you can commit to publishing each type of content.
VII. Branded Destinations
Define your core branded online destination as well as the other branded online destinations you create as publishing points for the execution of your integrated content marketing plan.
VIII. Primary Message and Value-Add
Define your primary brand messages and the value your brand brings to the online conversation and consumer experience. Furthermore, identify how you will bring those messages and your brand’s value to life through your content.
Remember, the world of content marketing is in a constant state of flux, so your content marketing strategy will be a working document that needs to be flexible. Use your Content Marketing Strategy Worksheet and Template to create, monitor, tweak, and optimize your content marketing plan throughout the year in order to assure you’re positioned to reach your goals.