In the first part of this series, we started with a general introduction into content marketing. We also took a look at the reasons for content marketing and determined the different goals that companies can achieve by focusing on this. 

After you have set these individual goals, the next big step is to actually develop a content strategy.

HAVE YOU READ PART 1?

What exactly is content marketing and what are the goals that companies can achieve by shifting the focus of their marketing activities on content marketing?

1. Budget and time

 

Content marketing in general is a relatively inexpensive marketing activity, but still demands some financial investment. Additionally, you should discuss how much time you are going to spend on publishing content.

If you want to take it slow and wait for the first reactions and numbers on how this has worked, then you should not put more than a couple of hours in each month. However, if you are looking for bigger reactions, faster, this will necessitate more time investment. A lot of companies have even created a headcount for this specific purpose and there are some teams that even consist of several content managers, who are solely responsible for coordinating, maintaining and implementing the content marketing strategy.

No matter how much money and time there is, it is crucial to define how much effort is going into content marketing before starting. If you want to achieve a lot, you will have to be willing to put the time and money in. To avoid miscommunication and a work overload for the responsible content manager, you have to mark out your new path. And if you want to have high-quality video content and infographics, you have to have the right budget for it.

 

2. INVENTORY

 

We are starting off the second step with an inventory: What content already exists? Maybe it has been created for a campaign and findings from self-published studies can also become interesting pieces of content. You can even take old content and give it a new spin. This way, you can use good content more than once.

If you’ve decided that you will not be able to have one person take care of the content creation fulltime, you should also consider the resources you have to help you create content.

 

An inside job

 

Are there any colleagues within the company that have their own blog and regularly publish articles or videos on a certain topic? These employees tend to be very experienced in writing and know what to look for in good content. Their expertise can save you a lot of money that you would otherwise have to put into producing content externally.

Even colleagues who do not have any experience in this area, could show an interest in producing content. That’s why the company should openly communicate to every employee that there is a new focus on content marketing and put it out there, that any type of support is welcome. Who knows what kind of hidden talents you may discover!

 

Help from the outside

 

If you cannot find enough support among your co-workers, you can always get external help. It is very common to hire freelancers to produce content. Freelancers are usually not as expensive as agencies, since their prices do not include as high costs for workspace, equipment, employees and so on. Agencies often work with freelancers themselves anyways, so by directly hiring the freelancer, you simply cut out the middlemen and save some money while doing it. Finally, a lot of freelancers are more flexible when it comes to the timing of projects and they tend to have a big network consisting of different other freelancers that could potentially chime in and support if time is tight.

 

3. Finding the right topics

 

Next up is finding the right topic to create content about. First off, you should define one general topic that matches the company. This may sound trivial, but it will definitely help finding categories later on. A supermarket will automatically turn towards the topic of food and drink, but it’s not as easy for all companies to immediately determine their focus point. Holding a workshop with the whole marketing team can help creating a more refined positioning and thereby make it easier to find the right topic for your content marketing strategy.

 

Subcategories

 

Next up, determining different categories can help finding concrete topics to write about. If you come up with topics though, always try to answer this question: Will I still be able to create new content for this topic six months down the road? There are some topics that you just won’t have anything new and interesting to write about after a certain amount of time. If you want to implement a lasting content marketing strategy however, you should focus on permanently interesting and feasible topics.

 

Let’s go back to the example of a supermarket again. Here, subcategories could include recipes, product testing or general education about different foods. This already gives you three different areas to constantly publish about. Again, if you can’t come up with something right away, it helps getting other colleagues involved in a brainstorming session.

 

Keyword analysis

 

Another great way to find the right topics is a keyword analysis. This may uncover unsuspected questions or relations to other areas. Additionally, Google Trends can provide you with some insight into the search behaviour of your customers, potentially shining a light on topics that haven’t been looked at yet.

Other popular formats in content marketing are reviews and anniversaries. This is content that can easily be used multiple times.

 

LISTEN TO YOUR CUSTOMERS

 

Finally, you shouldn’t forget the people the content ultimately is for: your customers. Go and have a talk with your social media or customer relations team and see if there are any commonly asked questions. Maybe there are even suggestions from the community that you could turn into a content piece.

If you don’t get enough input or you just don’t have these two departments in your company, you can always try to talk to your customers directly. Whether you try to get their opinion at the point of sale or via a short online survey, getting direct feedback from your customers is always helpful.

 

4. Creating the content plan

 

We have now reached the peak: the content plan. This is where everything that we thought about in theory before will come to life. A good content plan is the basis of a working and successful content marketing strategy.

First off, it is important to create the right environment to store the plan in, so that everyone can work with this file. If you have freelancers working for you that require access to the plan, Google Drive can be a good solution. This way, you can all access the file and also work on it simultaneously. Even if you only have internal people working together on this project, it can be easier to organize everything using the free tool Slack than just using email. Content creators especially love Slack, because it allows you to easily communicate with different teams and filter for messages all in one place. Trello is yet another popular tool for editorial calendars.

THESE 4 TOOLS WILL HELP YOU GET YOUR BUSINESS ORGANISED

Whether you are on your own or working in a team, being organised is key for having a successful business.

ONE PLAN FOR ALL PLATFORMS

 

A thought-through content plan should also include the different platforms you want to promote your content on. If you only publish on your website or blog, you will miss out on precious reach. Social media channels or newsletters can help with that, making you hit two birds with one stone: you can present your content to a broader audience while at the same time creating valuable content for your social media accounts.

It is easy to lose track of all the different platforms though. That’s why you should only include the really important information in your content plan. Specific times for a post, for example, are almost never that important and should be left for the responsible employee to decide.

 

THE PLATFORM DETERMINES THE TYPE OF CONTENT

 

However, you should definitely include the type of content. If you just published a new study for example, you can use this piece of content in very different ways. While you will probably publish a lengthy article about it on your blog, you can shift the focus to one interesting number for your Instagram account and specifically create an infographic with the most important findings from the study for Pinterest.

It is crucial to adapt the content to match the different platforms and thereby making it as user-friendly as possible. If you simply take the article and post it in the same format on all your channels, it will show in your results – and not in a positive way.

what comes next

In the third part of this series, we will have a closer look at which types of content go well with what topics and determine the most popular displays in content marketing.

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