Without a plan, your content will suck and you’ll end up boring your audience. Not a good result if you’re trying to build customer trust and loyalty.
So, sharpen those pencils and get ready to take notes, as we’ve got a few ideas on how to perfect your content planning process!
A good content plan feeds off a strong content strategy
A content strategy helps you manage your content as a business asset. This strategy concerns the creation, publication and organisational aspects of content marketing.
Content strategies should be formed around the needs of your business, and documented to avoid confusion. 60% of the most effective B2C marketers use a documented content strategy, so you’ll be in good company.
A content strategy should give a bird’s-eye view of the content you’re delivering, how it fits in with your content marketing strategy (yes, that’s a different thing), and your annual calendar. Make sure to point out:
- Key calendar dates: Public holidays, work events, industry shindigs. Halloween’s coming up so get ready for some spooky content!
- Monthly theme: Take this from your content marketing strategy, so it can feed into planning your individual pieces of content.
- Items from all channels: This includes social media, video and other types of content. It’s all part of your overarching content strategy.
If your content strategy is strong, you’ll be able to jump right in and plan the specifics of each piece. And that’s where content planning begins.
What should every content plan include?
Writers take to content planning in different ways. Some just like having the bare bones, others plan every paragraph.
You’ve got to find out which method works best for you, but here are the items we believe every content plan should contain:
- Delivery date/time: Remember, timing is important for content marketing, and this will help make sure you’re writing to deadline.
- Title: You can’t start writing without a title, even if it’s just a working one. This should outline the main premise of the piece.
- Wordcount: This will determine how much depth and detail the piece will go into.
- Quick summary: Just two or three sentences – outlining key points and your conclusion. You can always add an ‘additional ideas’ section if you want some extra room for your ideas.
- Sources: Find sources you can use for research and as inspiration for your piece. This will save you time later and might spark some ideas. Just make sure they’re credible!
6 tips for top-notch content planning:
So, you know what your content plan should include, but you could probably do with a few additional pointers to get you going. We’re happy to oblige – take a look!
1. Consider your brand’s stance
Everything you say should fit with your brand’s guidelines, ethos and values. So, forget what you know about the subject personally – what does your brand think?
Your content plan should be written from your brand’s perspective and subtly align your offering as the solution. Remember that word though – ‘subtle’ – as your content should always be more educational than promotional.
2. Know your audience
Who is your piece meant to be targeting? Which segment of your audience should it speak to?
You need to think long and hard about this, as it will define the direction of your piece. Think about the needs of the individual and where he or she might be in your sales funnel by using audience personas based on existing customers.
Think about how you can structure your content specifically for your users, and give them everything they want to know about the subject. Then you can think about getting started on writing your content.
3. Brainstorm lots of ideas
With those two key things in your mind, start brainstorming ideas – we find mind-maps work well!
Generate as many ideas as possible, just go crazy. Yes, some may not be as good as others, and some may not even be realistic, but you can hone these down to create highly-targeted, engaging content.
4. Decide which angle you’ll take
This is key to good content planning – an angle that will grab attention and help you stand out from the crowd.
Visit competitor sites to see what they’re doing and see if you can switch it on its head. If you’re stuck, use the four-pillar approach like this:
- What is happening to Uber in London?
- Where can I still get an Uber?
- Why is TFL and Sadiq Kahn banning Uber in London?
- How can I stop Uber leaving London?
There you go, four different approaches to the same topic. Take your pick!
5. Set a goal for each piece of content
Each piece of content should have a goal. It can either be something explicit (e.g. increasing newsletter sign-ups, or downloading guides), or something more implicit (like educating, informing or explaining a process). The latter is more suited to content marketing.
6. Choose a strong focus keyword
Pick a keyword now, so you can consider it throughout the content planning process. It will help you stay on track and prepare your piece for SEO.
These content planning tips will help you create an effective plan that will act as a great foundation for your content. Try our ideas out next time content planning rolls around, and see how your content quality improves!