Content Planning: Building a Long-term Vision for Awesome Content

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Before we begin, let’s take a moment to revisit the buyer’s journey. The buyer’s journey has a similar corresponding marketing funnel, and when both are used side-by-side, I like to call them the “marketing machine.” The marketing machine relates each buyer’s journey stage to a corresponding marketing funnel stage; the awareness stage relates to visit and lead, the consideration stage relates to marketing qualified lead, or MQL, and sales qualified lead, or SQL, and the decision stage relates to opportunity and customer.

These funnels are designed to help you visualize and guide a prospect through the stages of the buyer’s journey so that you can effectively measure your funnel and provide a tailored message to that prospect at their particular stage in the buyer’s journey. It’s important to understand the relationship between both funnels because they’re working toward the same goal; attracting your prospects, converting them into leads, closing them into customers, and eventually delighting them, turning them into evangelists.

A marketing machine is not developed overnight. It takes a lot of time and planning to build. This is where long-term content planning comes in. So what’s involved in developing a long-term content plan? There are three steps you must take to create a long-term content plan; setting marketing goals, auditing or assessing your organization’s initiatives and assets, and identifying the buyer’s journey for your buyer personas. The ultimate objective here is to have a unifying document you can use to keep track of your long-term content marketing initiatives.

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First, let’s talk about setting your marketing goals. By setting marketing goals, you can develop a long-term vision and short-term motivation. Goals help you organize your time and resources so you can make the most of your content creation efforts. Each piece of content created for a marketing initiative should be tied to a goal that’s also directly related to the overarching goals of the organization. This will help you stay laser-focused with the content creation process.

Let’s take a second to think about this. If your company’s quarterly customer goal is 15 new customers and you know the number of leads needed to generate 15 customers is 50 leads, and if you know the number of website visits needed to generate 50 leads is 1,000 visits, then you need to take into consideration the content needed to hit your visits goal. Each goal you set should be a SMART goal. That is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. A potential SMART goal example could be increase quarterly site visits by 20%. That’s 5,000 per quarter to 6,000 per quarter by the end of the year.

The second step in creating a long-term content plan is auditing or assessing your organization’s initiatives and assets. Your audit is going to consist of two parts. First, auditing your content assets, and second, auditing your event-based priorities. Let’s begin with the content audit. Your goal with the content audit is to identify all of the marketing assets you have at your disposal and potentially identify gaps or opportunities in your content strategy. There comes a point for every marketer who has been generating content for a while when they realize they have no idea where all of their content is or how much they actually have. Content has likely been created by you, your predecessors, or other individuals in the marketing department, including subject matter experts from other departments, and is scattered just about everywhere. By doing your content audit, you’ll be able to identify resources that you already have, which could save you hours of content creation time in the future.

No use in duplicating your efforts. When it comes to documenting a content audit, there should be a place for you to insert all of your assets and properly categorize them based on content title, buyer’s journey stage, marketing funnel stage, format or type of content, which buyer persona this is targeting, and any additional notes that provide value or context. Now, it’s time to do some digging for content assets, such as guides, worksheets, or sales collateral. I’d recommend systematically combing through the following dark corners where content can typically be hiding, like that old file manager or marketing folder on your computer.

Ask your sales team what type of collateral they use. Check in with the more tenured employees (you’ll be surprised at the wealth of knowledge here). Pore through your customer relationship management system, also known as a CRM, and your content management system, also known as a CMS. Okay, I think you get the picture here. Let’s take a look at a content audit from a HubSpot customer by the name of Maren Schmidt. Maren offers advice and resources backed by more than 30 years of experience working with young children. Notice how Maren already has content spanning the awareness, consideration, and decision stages of the buyer’s journey for multiple buyer personas, and each piece of content corresponds to a specific lifecycle stage.

Additionally, Maren has many different types of content formats to offer her buyer personas, like an ebook, a study guide, and a webinar. Note how Maren uses the “Notes” field to explain the contents of her content offer, though she may not need this for each piece of content in her audit. Now that Maren has documented her assets, she’ll be able to refer to this audit in the future to pinpoint what content she already has and how it can help with future content creation initiatives.

The second part to completing your audit is to conduct an audit on your event-based initiatives. What I mean by this is you’ll need to take into account any upcoming projects, priorities, or events that might involve content creation. Doing this exercise will help you identify content that could support each initiative, but also, and more importantly, it can give you an opportunity to see how you can connect this content back to the buyer’s journey through an inbound marketing campaign. An event-based audit should be organized by the following areas: upcoming priorities by month, initiative overview, theme, prospective blog post topics based on buyer personas, and an inbound marketing campaign that ties together your efforts.

Take a look at what Maren did for her event-based audit. You can see that Maren has a few events and workshops that she might need content for. You can also see that the content is grouped into an overall theme for the next three months with associated blog topics that integrate with an inbound marketing campaign called “Preparing Your Home the Montessori Way,” which is an ebook.

Try and imagine for a minute if Maren only planned the month, initiative overview, and theme without keywords and blog post topics that associate with a relevant inbound marketing campaign. Yes, she would have noted that there are a series of events coming up in the next few months, but she would have missed out on the opportunity to tie everything together with a series of blog posts that could lead to a relevant content offer that would provide value to her marketing machine. Simply adding these two columns maximizes your content potential and forces you to think bigger than just the events at hand.

There’s one last important step needed to create a sustainable long-term content plan and that’s identifying the buyer’s journey for your buyer personas. Remember, you’re creating content that’s meant to attract and pull your buyer personas through every stage of the buyer’s journey: from the awareness stage where it’s more problem-based, through the consideration stage where you’re discussing a solution, and ending in the decision stage where you’re recommending next steps.

Simply identifying this content will give you ideas to work with in the future. But before you can identify the buyer’s journey, you first need to know your buyer personas. Keeping this in mind, let’s take a look at one of Maren’s buyer persona’s, Montessori Mom Meena. Here’s an overview of Meena as a buyer persona. Meena’s a devoted mother, a working professional, and married with at least one child under the age of six. Meena wants to understand child development and do what’s best for her children, understand how to set limits for behavior, and have effective communication tools to use with her children.

Meena’s challenges are her children won’t listen and she has to deal with tantrums, all of which overwhelm her as a parent. Maren knows that Meena uses Google to find answers to problems she’s looking to solve. Great. Now that you know who Meena is, let’s take a look at what the buyer’s journey might look like for her in more detail. To start, you know it’s important for Meena to do what’s best for her children, so what about an awareness stage ebook that lists parenting problems you can avoid.

This is something that would bring value to Meena’s search. Then, once Meena’s been educated on parenting problems to avoid, what about following up with consideration stage information like a questionnaire regarding family needs to help her understand a possible solution – in this case, Montessori. The questionnaire outlines both the needs of the child as well as the parent. But maybe Meena needs a little more information that will lead her to the decision stage, something that educates her more on how to best prepare for Montessori. What about a free consideration stage workshop that explains how to prepare your home the Montessori way? That could do the trick.

And now that Meena has found a solution to her problem, she’s ready to make a decision. What about offering Meena a one-hour strategy consultation to discuss next steps for her child and Montessori? Sounds about right. That’s an example of a complete buyer’s journey. A buyer’s journey is ever-evolving. The more you learn about your buyer personas, the more you’ll be able to refine the buyer’s journey and grow it over time.

But it starts with first identifying the content needed to complete the buyer’s journey, which you can then plan over the course of a year to keep your content creation sustainable.

Ringkasan video di atas adalah sebagai berikut:

3 Langkah Menghasilkan Rencana Content Jangka Panjang

Untuk merencanakan content jangka panjang harus dilakukan 3 langkah berikut:
1. Menetapkan target pemasaran
2. Melakukan penilaian atas inisiatif dan aset organisasi
Langkah kedua ini terbagi atas 2 hal:
     A. Penilaian atas aset content
     B. Penilaian atas prioritas berdasarkan suatu event.
3. Mengidentifikasi perjalanan pembeli sebagai suatu buyer persona

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