Whether you're just starting out with content marketing or you've been using the same strategies for a while, you need a great content marketing to moo-ve your business forward.

Why? This year, you've got even more competition. According to Content Marketing Institute, 70% of B2B marketers surveyed say they are creating more content this year than they did in 2016.

The first step to getting a leg up on the competition is to have a solid, smart content marketing plan in place. If you're having trouble planning for the upcoming year or need some fresh ideas to include in your plan, read on.

In this blog post, we'll dive into why your business needs a content marketing plan and the exact steps you will need to take to create one.

Why Content Marketing Matters for Businesses

Content marketing helps businesses prepare and plan for reliable and cost-effective sources of website traffic and new leads. If you can create just one blog post that gets a steady amount of organic traffic, an embedded link to an ebook or free tool will continue generating leads for you as time goes on.

Your content will not only help attract leads, it will also help educate your target prospects and generate awareness for your brand. 

Now, let's dive in to learn the specifics of how to create a content marketing plan.

7 Steps for Creating a Content Marketing Strategy

1) Define your goal.

Before you do anything, why are you doing it? And what are your overall goals? Once you’ve figured this out it will make it much easier to strategise.

2) Conduct persona research.

To develop a successful plan, you need to clearly define your content's target audience -- also known as your "buyer persona."

This is especially important for those who are starting out or are new to marketing. By knowing your target audience, you can produce more relevant and valuable content that they'll want to read and convert on.

Who are the individuals that buy your product/service?

Who are the individuals that buy your product/service?

If you're an experienced marketer, your target audience may have changed, so your marketing probably needs to change along with it. Revisiting your audience parameters by conducting market research each year is crucial to growing your audience.

3) Audit your content.

Work out what formats and content performs best with the process of Minimal Viable Content. Key to this is trying new things to see what works best and then analysing performance, gathering the data and adapting your marketing approach.

If you've been in business for a while, review your content marketing efforts frequently. Figure out what you can do differently in the upcoming year and set new goals to reach.

4) Determine how you will manage your content.

A few vital parts of content management:

  • Who will be creating the content?
  • What do you want your content to be saying and to who?
  • Where is it going to be most effectively published?
  • And how are you going to analyse the performance so you can adapt where necessary?

Content creation, content publication, and content analytics.

5) Brainstorming for content ideas.

Now, it's time to start coming up with ideas for your next content project.

Talk to your team and think about a few things like:

  • What information is valuable for your buyer persona?
  • What interesting news do you have about your industry and your product service in relation to this news?
  • What great things are people saying about your product/service? Be it customers, press or business partners.
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Then do some follow up research for inspiration on how to put your ideas together, what format your content might take and for back-up facts, figures and quote if you need them. Make sure you credit where it is due, external hyperlinks will help with your SEO if nothing else.

6) Determine which types of content you want to create.

There is a huge variety of formats your content to take. Here are some of the most popular:

- Blog posts

If you haven't already noticed, you're currently reading through a blog post. Blog posts live on a website and should be published regularly in order to attract new visitors. Posts should provide valuable content for your audience that makes them inclined to share posts on social media and across other websites.

- Ebooks

Ebooks are lead generation tools that potential customers can download after submitting a lead form with their contact information. They're typically longer, more in-depth, and published less frequently than blog posts, which are written to attract visitors to a website. Ebooks are the next step in the inbound marketing process: After reading a blog post (such as this one), visitors might want more content from an ebook and submit their contact information to learn more valuable information for their business. In turn, the business producing the ebook has a new lead for the sales team to contact.

- Templates

Templates are a handy content format to try because they generate leads for you while providing tremendous value to your audience. When you provide your audience with template tools to save them time and help them succeed, they're more likely to keep engaging with your content in the future.

- Infographics

Infographics can organise and visualise data in a more compelling way than words alone. These are great content formats to use if you're trying to share a lot of data in a way that is clear and easy to understand.

- Videos

Videos are a highly engaging content medium that are shareable across social media platforms and websites alike. Videos require a bigger investment of time and resources than written content, but as visual marketing increases in popularity, it's a medium worth experimenting with.

You could also try your hand at live streaming videos on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.


7) Publishing and managing your content.

Your marketing plan should go beyond the types of content you'll create. It should also cover how you'll organise your content. Use an editorial calendar, to stay on the right track for publishing a balanced and broad range of content on your website. 

We know this is a lot of information, but the work has just begun. It takes time, organisation, and creativity to grow a successful content marketing strategy.