Build a Strong Foundation

The Advanced Guide to Content Marketing

Written by Neil Patel & Kathryn Aragon

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Welcome to my first chapter in the Advanced Guide to Content Marketing. In this chapter, you'll lay the groundwork for a powerful content marketing strategy that can help you build your business.

If you're ready to jump into content production and want to start writing right away, I understand. But at some point, you'll need to define why you create content and what you're trying to achieve with it. These are the decisions that give your content focus and clarity — and make you stand out as a content publishing guru.

Why not make those decisions now so you can lay a strong foundation?

When you're done with this chapter, you'll know your objectives, your target audience, and your strategy. You'll also learn the technology and work flow that will help you meet your objectives.

So you can confidently plan and create your content, knowing you're creating the type of content that will engage your ideal customers and grow your business.

New marketing is about the relationships, not the medium.

Ben Grossman founder of BIGMarK

What is Content Marketing?

It is a strategy of producing and publishing information that builds trust and authority among your ideal customers.

It is a way to build relationships and community, so people feel loyal to you and your brand.

It is a strategy for becoming recognized as a thought leader in your industry.

It is a way to drive sales without traditional "hard sell" tactics.

Create a Simple Planning Document

Create a Simple Planning Document

Throughout this chapter, you'll be making important decisions about how you'll structure and manage your content marketing efforts. As you make those decisions, you need to write them down, so you will end up with a simple, actionable content marketing plan that will guide your content creation from how on.

Here's what you need to do:

  1. Start a new Excel document

    Create a Simple Planning Document #1

    Name it Content Plan [year]. For [year], put the current year. (You'll update this document each year.)

    Name the first tab Strategic Plan.

  2. In Row 1, type "Channel Plan."

  3. In Row 2, type in the header for each column

    Create a Simple Planning Document #2
    Column A
    Content Types
    Column B
    Channel
    Column C
    Objective
    Column D
    Structure
    Column E
    Frequency
    Column F
    Tone
    Column G
    Desired Action
    Column H
    URL
  4. Create borders around the 7 rows below the column headings

    1. Select cells A3 through H9.

    2. In the ribbon, click Format > Format Cells (the bottom command).

      Create a Simple Planning Document #3
    3. In the pop-up box, select the "Border" tab.

    4. There are three border styles in the upper right-hand side of the box. Select "Outline" and "Inside."

    5. Click "OK." You will create a box, ready for the decisions you make later in this chapter.

    Note:

    If you wish, format the box with your brand colors.

    Do NOT start filling out the Channel Plan yet. You need to make other decisions first.

  5. Create a box for your core message

    Next, under the Channel Plan, create a box for recording your core message, which we'll do later in this chapter. Use the same branded colors/formatting that you used in the channel plan above.

    Here's how:

    1. In cell A11, type "Core Message."

    2. In cell B12, create a heading, "Message / Topic."

    3. Next to it, in C12, create a heading, "Summary / Keywords."

    4. Beginning in A13, create several subheads:

      A13
      "Target Audience"
      A14
      "Mission Statement"
      A15
      "Core Message or Question"
      A16
      "Secondary Messages"
    5. Then list the numbers 1 through 7 in the rows that follow.

    Use the Borders command to create the boxes for your final decisions.

    Create a Simple Planning Document #4
  6. Under that, create a box to record and track your business objectives

    Create a Simple Planning Document #5
    1. In cell A25 of this Excel file, type "Business Objectives."

    2. ICreate these column headings in row 26:

      Column A
      Business Objectives
      Column B
      Business Impact
      Column C
      Benchmark
      Column D
      1st Quarter Results
      Column E
      2nd Quarter Results
      Column F
      3rd Quarter Results
      Column G
      4th Quarter Results
    3. Use the Borders command to create 5 rows of boxes below this header (rows 27-31).

    That's it! You now have a strategic planning document, ready and waiting for the decisions you're about to make. If you had trouble creating one, you can click here to download a templatized content plan that you can modify. Now it's time to begin developing your strategy.

Objectives

Objectives

When planning, it's important to decide what you want to accomplish before you decide how you'll accomplish it. So we start with your objectives for content marketing.

I've broken the process into steps so it's easy for you to see what decisions need to be made, and in what order. But realize that, while some decisions are simple, others feel like guesswork. That's okay. Content marketing is like any marketing strategy. You need to test your ideas to see what works.

Make an educated guess for now. You can easily change your mind if you find that your original decision isn't giving you the results you need.

I recommend making a plan and sticking with it for three to six months. Then evaluate your results. If some of your decisions don't pan out, tweak them and give it another three to six months. That gives you enough time to test your decisions while allowing you to find your best methods quickly.

  1. Decide how you'll use content marketing to grow your business

    There's no right answer here. Just pick one. From a high level perspective, what do you want to do? For example:

    • Prospecting. Generate leads for follow-up by sales and marketing teams.
    • Sales. Help your sales team close sales more quickly.
    • Marketing. Generate interest in your products.
    • PR. Build and repair public opinion about your brand and products.
    • Community. Develop friends and fans who interact with your brand socially.
    • Customer support. Help customers get the most from your products.
    • Thought leadership. Develop name recognition and respect, and to influence your industry.
  2. Name your specific goals

    1. Go to the Business Objectives box in your planning document.
    2. Name one primary goal and two or three lower-level goals for your content marketing efforts. Be specific. Name the exact outcome you'd like to see or percentage improvement. You may also include a realistic time frame for achieving each goal. Record these in column A, Business Objectives
    3. Next, write down why you'd like to achieve each goal. Your answer should define a particular way it will help your business grow. Record this in column B, Business Impact.
    4. Now create a benchmark that will allow you to track future results. Under "Benchmark," enter sales figures, profits, number of click-throughs, or some other number that will help you measure growth.

    Note:

    At this point, you're deciding on the business objectives you hope to achieve with content marketing, including the business impact of that goal and your current status.

    Notice that this Business Objectives box also provides space to track results. Once a quarter, plan on reviewing results of your decisions so you know which strategies are working and which need tweaking.

  3. Decide how content marketing fits into your overall marketing plan

    Your plan will be as individual as your own business. But here are three common strategies you may consider:

    • Directed Traffic

      You could use social media to drive traffic to your blog, then write blog posts that drive traffic to landing pages.

      Objectives #1
    • Integrated Messaging

      You could use all content to drive a particular action, such as enrollment in a membership site. So social media, blogs and videos give tips and useful information, but how-to information is reserved for paid members.

      Objectives #2
    • Single Focus on Sales

      You could use a wide variety of content — blog posts, podcasts, videos — to drive sales. So each piece of content is written for the express purpose of piquing interest in one of your products.

      Objectives #3

    Now you.

    1. Beside the Core Message box in your planning document (cell E11), type "Content Strategy."
    2. Decide which approach you want to take. If it's one of the three listed above, copy and paste the appropriate image into your Excel file under the "Content Strategy" heading.
    3. If you have another plan, write it out in this spot, so you can easily refer back to it.
  4. Create your core message

    Your core message is the primary benefit you offer your customers. It might include your story or the one piece of advice you share with customers.

    This message is the bottom-line reason why you're in business and should be the guiding principle for all content.

    1. Start with your mission statement.

      What do you want to do for your customers or clients? What impact do you want to have on their lives?

    2. Phrase your core message.

      Based on your mission statement, what is the big benefit you want your followers to get from engaging with your content.

      If you can't decide what it is, look for one central solution you provide your customers or one big question you answer when talking with them.

    3. Decide on 5 to 7 secondary messages (or topics) that support your core message.

      If you only have one message that you write about in every piece of content, it's going to get stale quickly. To avoid repeating your core message ad nauseum — and to give you lots of editorial topics to write about — select 5 to 7 sub-topics that support your core message.

      Examples
      • WorkingMomsOnly.com
        Mission
        "To supply the tools that can give EVERY working mom the ability to lead a healthy, wealthy, and more balanced/blended lifestyle."
        Core Message
        You can live the life you have always dreamed of, the life you and your family deserve.
        Secondary Messages
        business, health & well-being, kids, relationships, how-to, work-life balance, celebrities, marketing
      • Crazy Egg
        Mission
        To provide affordable, effective heat-mapping technology that helps people improve on-page conversion.
        Core Message
        You can boost your website's profit within 30 days
        Secondary Messages
        web design, conversion optimization, blogging for business, conversion, copywriting, scrambled eggs, analytics
    4. Record it in your Excel file...

      In the Core Message box, write down your mission statement.

      Write down your core message. (You can refine it over time, but get something down on paper now.)

      List 5-7 secondary messages. (If you aren't sure, list as many as you like. Then narrow the list to your top 5-7 favorites.)

  5. Perform a competitive analysis

    Select five brands in your industry that are using content marketing successfully. You may select brands that are industry leaders or smaller brands — as long as they use content marketing to grow their business.

    In the Competitive Analysis Box you created above, list those five brands.

    Objectives #4

    Then evaluate their content:

    1. Try to identify their core message.
    2. List the topics they cover. How well do they support the core message?
    3. List the types of content produced, include blog posts, social media posts, podcasts or videos, special reports, slide shows, infographics, ebooks, and more.
    4. Make note of how often each type of content is posted. If several types are used, lay out each content type in its own line in the previous column, then list the frequency of that type of content beside it in this column.
    5. Make note of the calls to action used in different types of content.
    6. Try to find the gap, or what they don't cover in their content marketing.
  6. Identify your purple cow

    Your content won't get noticed by Google or by your readers if it just rehashes everything else on the Internet. To stand out, you need to do something unique.

    Review your competitive analysis one more time, and try to find the "thing" that each brand is known for, the unique element that makes them shine.

    Your goal is to come alongside the competition and still offer something different. So look for something that none of them cover. This is the gap that you can fill to make your own brand unique.

    A few examples of what might set you apart:

    • Your style
    • Your personality
    • The depth of your information
    • Your unique approach to the core topic
    • Your value proposition

    This is your "differentiator." Type it into your planning document below the competitive analysis.

    Objectives #5

Target Audience

  1. Decide who you want to read your content

    1. Select the niche.

      The truth about marketing is that if you target everyone, you'll hit no one. So you need to define the niche that you want to serve. This is a specific group of people who are interested in the topic you write about.

    2. Refine the niche.

      to be specific about who you write for. For example, "Animal lovers" is a niche, but it's relatively broad. "Cat lovers" is a more targeted niche and could make a better target.

    3. Can you narrow the field even more?

      A micro-niche is a subset of your chosen niche. For example, "cat breeders" or "lovers of hairless cats" are micro-niches in the "cat lovers" niche.

      When picking your target audience, choose as small a group as possible that is large enough to help you meet your marketing objectives.

    4. Enter your decision in the Core Message box in your Content Planner.

      Target Audience #1
  2. Make sure it's a viable market.

    Just because you want to write for a particular market doesn't mean they're a good fit for you. Before you settle on a specific niche, make sure it's a viable market.

    1. Ask yourself:

      • Are there enough people in this group to meet your sales and community-building objectives?
      • Do these people want or need the information you provide?
      • Will they benefit from your product/service?
      • Do you understand what triggers their buy response?
      • Can they afford your product/service?
      • Are they accessible through email and social media?
      • Are they open to receiving your messages?
    2. Do a Google search to verify that people are looking for the information you plan to deliver:

      • Visit Google adwords.
      • Type in your keywords
      • Verify there are at least 10,000 monthly searches.
      Target Audience #2
  3. Locate your ideal customer

    A market isn't just a type of person. It's a group of people who you can connect with. So you need to look for signs that your target audience sees themselves as a unique group of people. If they gather together and if there are lists of email addresses that target this group, you have a good market.

    • Find the associations or groups they belong to.
    • Find out which social media sites they use.
    • Identify magazines or other media they subscribe to. Check to see if you can rent the list.
    • Find at least three events they attend. Check to see if you can attend, or if possible, speak at or have a booth at the event.
  4. Create an "avatar," or persona, who represents the average person in your target audience.

    You should never write content to a group. It should sound as if you're writing to one person — your ideal reader. So you need to know who that reader is. And to do that, you need to focus on the details.

    For this exercise, don't pick a range for the age or income level. Be specific. Create one person who represents everyone in your target audience. So when you create content, you can write to this one person.

    1. List the Demographics of your ideal reader.

      • Age
      • Location
      • Gender
      • Income level
      • Education level
      • Marital or family status
      • Occupation
      • Ethnic background
    2. List the Psychographics (values and moral code) of your ideal reader.

      • Personality
      • Attitudes
      • Values
      • Interests/hobbies
      • Lifestyles
      • Behavior
    3. Give him or her a name.

    4. If you can, find a picture.

      Take a picture of a real customer

      Visit http://www.morguefile.com for royalty-free images

      Visit http://www.dreamstime.com for paid and/or free images.

      Your ideal customer avatar won't be used in your marketing. It's just for you to know who you create content for. But that doesn't mean you should skip this exercise. The better you know your target audience, the more engagement you'll get.

  5. Locate your ideal customer

    • Research.ly. (paid) This program filter conversations from 1,000 days of social data for insights into influence, sentiment, demographics and psychographics — to help you connect with your target audiences, manage brand perception, collaborate across networks and increase your sociall media ROI.

      Target Audience #3
    • KISSmetrics. (paid) Helps you know your customers better by tracking "events," or actions people take on your website, such as "Visited Site" or "Completed Checkout."

      Target Audience #4
    • Forrester (free tool, paid service) This tool helps you profile your customer's social computing behaviors so you know where they look for content online.

      Target Audience #5

Strategy

  1. Craft your core message into a benefits statement or tag.

    From now on, your core message will serve as a guidepost for every piece of content you produce. If a topic or idea doesn't support your core message, don't waste time on it.

    1. Brainstorm for short pithy statements that summarize your core message.
    2. Alternatively, come up with sets of three words that could summarize your core message or the benefit of doing business with you.
    3. Create a list of your best ideas for tag lines.
    4. Test your ideas with friends, co-workers, and even customers.
    5. Record this tag (benefits statement) under "Summary/Keyword" in the Core Message box in your planning document.
  2. Turn your secondary topics/messages into keywords

    Strategy #1

    In chapter 3, you'll create categories on your website that make it easy for people to find your content. Each category will be based on one of the secondary messages in your Core Message box.

    For now, you simply need to turn each of your secondary messages into a keyword or phrase that could be used as a category heading.

    1. Think of a keyword that summarizes the content you will create for that secondary message.
    2. Enter that word or phrase under "Summary/Keyword" in the Core Message box beside each secondary message.
  3. Decide on the specific types of content you want to create

    You can create one type of content or multiple types. Your options include:

    • Blog posts

      Articles that talk about issues related to your core message and secondary messages. They can range anywhere from 100 words to 2,000 words, depending on the format you choose and what your readers prefer.

    • Magazine articles

      Like a blog post, these posts talk about issues related to your core message, but instead of publishing them digitally, you publish them in a print magazine. That magazine may be your brand's magazine, a trade (industry) magazine, or a consumer magazine such as Inc., Fortune, Time, etc.

    • Video

      Not all content is housed on your website. You can create a channel on YouTube or Vimeo that provides another access point to your business. Some content marketers upload videos to YouTube, then reposted on their blog. Others create a video blog, or vlog, that lives on YouTube.

    • Podcasts

      Podcasts are audio articles or radio shows, often published in iTunes, Stitcher Radio, or Blubrry. Podcasting is gaining renewed popularity now because people who don't have time to read are able to listen to articles while in their daily commute or other activities.

    • Webinars and Teleseminars

      You can present information to a live audience during webinars and teleseminars, then use the recording and slides as content on your website, in newsletters, and in programs/products.

    • Speeches, workshops, interviews

      If it's information, it's content. And it's easy to recycle this information, incorporating it into other content types to add value.

    • Powerpoint presentations

      Offer the them on your website. Turn them into infographics. Use them in blog posts. Upload them to Slideshare.

    • Tutorials, guides

      You can create a Web page that provides links to additional information, essentially making a lesson plan for learning something new. This is a great way to build authority in your area of expertise. Remember to tell people what to do if they need additional help. (See how easy it is to drive business objectives with your content!)

    • Infographics

      Infographics are creative presentations of facts and figures rather than dry-as-toast reports. If they're well done, they are also very sharable. Visual.ly is a great resource for simple infographics.

    • White papers and special reports

      People want useful information that helps them make better decisions. That's why white papers, special reports, and other researched information make such great premiums and free offers. You can periodically offer these as a value-add to your followers, or you can offer them as an incentive for signing up to your email list.

    • Newsletters

      Content marketing is about building relationship. What better way than to send your content to people's inbox rather than making them visit your website every day? A newsletter also helps you build your email list, which allows you to make email offers as well.

    • Ebooks, books and products/programs

      Ebooks and books are a great way to build authority and trust. You can easily produce a short ebook and sell it on Amazon. Then turn it into a PDF and offer it on your website as well.

    • TIP #1

      If you're just starting your content marketing strategy, start with your blog. Then as you gain expertise, add one or two new type of content at a time.

    • TIP #2

      Before settling on a type of content, double check your choice:

      • Is it something that is easy for you to create?
      • Do your followers want to receive information in that format?
    • Now you

      At the top of your planning document, in the first column of the Channel Plan, write the type(s) of content you want to begin producing.

  4. Set your publication schedule

    From now on, your core message will serve as a guidepost for every piece of content you produce. If a topic or idea doesn't support your core message, don't waste time on it.

    1. Decide how often you'll publish.

      Some bloggers and vloggers publish every day, while others publish every month. Select something in that range that works for you. Be sure to think about how much time that will allow you to create other types of content, participate in social media, and get the rest of your job done. Record your decisions in column E, "Frequency."

    2. Decide on length.

      Do you want to set a word count for written content and a time length for webinars/podcasts? Or do you want to allow each post to be whatever length it needs to be to cover the topic at hand? Both approaches are acceptable, but you need to set the standards for your brand's content. Write your decisions in column D, "Structure."

    3. Decide on style.

      What tone or style do you want your content to have? Chatty? Friendly? Short and to the point? Professional? Brash? Will you allow slang or profanity? The choice is yours. Record your decisions in column F, "Tone."

Technology

  1. Choose the publishing platform for each type of content you will create.

    • Wordpress.org is one of the most popular platforms for a website/blog combination.
    • YouTube and Vimeo are popular video platforms.
    • Blubrry, Stitcher and iTunes are excellent podcast platforms.
    • PDFs sold on your website may work for ebooks and special reports. You may want to publish them on Amazon as well.

    In column B of your Channel Plan, record the channels that you'll use to publish each type of content you want to create.

  2. Decide which social media channels you will be active on.

    Don't try to be on every social media platform. Choose the platforms where your customers are active.

    1. Search on Facebook for pages that are similar to yours or target the same people. Check out the engagement levels. If engagement is good, you may benefit from a Facebook presence.
    2. Search for your competitors in Twitter. How many followers do they have? How often do they tweet? If it appears that your target audience is active in Twitter, you may benefit from adding Twitter to your content plan.
    3. Are you a B2B business? Look for one or two LinkedIn Groups that relate to your expertise.

    You will definitely need a Google+ presence to help optimize your content for search engines:

    • Set up a Google+ personal profile for your CEO, owner, or the person who manages your content marketing. This will allow you to set up Author Rank for your content writers.
    • Consider creating a Google+ business page for your business. This step is optional, but if you choose to do it, you can set up your business as a publisher of content.

    Enter the social media platforms you want to use in your Channel Plan.

    1. If you need to add more rows to your Channel Plan, highlight row 9, then right-click your mouse. Select "Insert." Do this as many times as you need.
    2. Add the social media channels you've chosen in column B, "Channel."
    3. Beside it, under "Content Types," enter "SMM," which means Social Media Marketing. Like this:

      Technology #1
  3. Decide whether to host your blog on your business website or on a separate URL.

    There are arguments for and against either scenario.

    • In favor of a separate URL for your blog:

      Back in December 2007, Matt Cutts, Head of Google's Webspam team, disclosed in his blog that Google prefers to provide only one or two results per hostname/subdomain in search results. If this is still true (and I haven't heard otherwise), then having a website and blog — each with separate domain names — would allow you to have more results per page.

      Technology #2

      Take the Crazy Egg blog, for example. It's on its own subdomain, separate from the Crazy Egg website. That increases the number of times this blog could show in SERPs.

    • In favor of making your blog a subdirectory (tab) on your current website:

      In recent years, Google has shown preference for active websites that add useful information (such as blog posts) on a regular basis. Having your blog on your website could, therefore, help your website rank better in the SERPs.

      Technology #3

      This blog is in a subdirectory within the business website. So it shows up as a navigation tab. By organizing the blog this way, the entire website appears more active because new pages (blog posts) are added each week. This helps the website move up in search results, even for a high-competition keyword.

    • The choice is yours.

      This is not a decision that needs to be recorded in your strategy page. It does, however, help you know what actions to take next.

      For instance, this decision could impact the name you give your blog. (We'll cover that in the next step.)

      And if you decide to use a separate URL for your business and blog — or if you're just starting out and don't have a website yet — you need to purchase a separate URL. (We'll cover that in a moment.)

  4. Select the name of your blog.

    If your blog is simply a tab on your website, you may not to give it a special name. You may decide to call it the [your business name] blog or [your name] blog.

    If your blog posts will also be sent out as a newsletter, you could name your blog after the newsletter

    However, if your blog is on a different domain, you could give it a unique name. Just be careful that the name you choose relates back to your main website or brand, so customers don't get confused.

  5. Purchase the domain name if you want to host your blog on a different domain.

    If you decide you want to put your blog on a separate domain (URL) from your business website, this step is for you. If not, skip down to section 6, Content Management.

    Visit Register.com, GoDaddy.com, or Namecheap.com to see what's available. Don't be discouraged if the "perfect" URL isn't available. Consider using a longer URL or coming up with a creative version of your ideal domain name, and keep trying until you find one that's available.

    Technology #4
  6. Purchase a web hosting package.

    Choose a hosting service:

    • With C-Panel (control panel) interface
    • Providing 24/7 support
    • That allows more than one domain
    • With a good track record and 30-day, money-back guarantee

    A few recommendations:

  7. Add your Name Server to your Domain

    Once you have a registered domain name (URL) and a hosting company, you need to connect them.

    Your hosting company uses what is called a nameserver to connect to your registered domain. This is a unique series of code numbers (like a password) that translate a domain or subdomain into an IP address, making it accessible on the Web.

    1. You will find your nameserver codes on your front page when you sign in to your hosting account. (For example, they look like NS1.BLUEHOST.COM and NS2.BLUEHOST.COM.)
    2. Cut and paste your nameservers into a Word document. Then log in to you domain registration account. Paste or type the nameservers into your control panel.

      Technology #5
  8. Set up your WordPress blog
    (if you haven't already)

    In case you're new to content marketing and don't have a website yet, I want to touch on the matter of setting up your website.

    I recommend WordPress.org, which is a favorite among content marketers because it makes it easy to create and maintain your website/blog.

    1. Log into your administrative control panel, also known as the cPanel:

      • Visit http://yourwebsitename.com/cPanel.
      • Log in with the user name and password from the hosting company.
    2. Under the section Software/Services click on the Fantastico De Luxe icon to install WordPress.

      Technology #6
    3. In the left-hand panel, you'll see a selection for WordPress. Click the radio button beside it.

      Technology #7
    4. You'll be taken to a WordPress installation page. Select New Installation.

    5. Fill out the options, then click "Install Wordpress" at the bottom of the page. Then click "Finish installation."

    6. You now have a basic WordPress website, ready for customization. If you need help with that, visit http://codex.wordpress.org/Main_Page.

    But, fortunately, it's not hard to figure out. You can access your WordPress admin page at www.yourURL.com/wp-admin using the user name and password you set in the cPanel.

    In this admin panel, you can create pages and blog posts. If you choose to have static web pages with your blog on one tab, you'll set that up here.

    Or if you want to let this URL be a stand-alone blog, you can do that as well. You'll simply create categories for each of your secondary messages, so visitors can easy find the articles that interest them. (We'll walk through the process of setting up categories in chapter 3.)

Content Management

  1. Set objectives for each channel, or type of content

    1. Each channel can (and should) have a unique place in your content marketing strategy. Set one of these 7 goals for each channel:

      1. drive traffic to another channel (your blog, for example)
      2. engage
      3. build community
      4. generate leads
      5. inform
      6. educate
      7. build thought leadership

      But don't limit yourself just to these seven. You can set any goal you like. Be creative, and think of unique ways to engage people and build relationship with them.

    2. Write this objective in column C, "Objective," of your Channel Plan.

      Content Management #1
  2. Decide on the approach you'll take in each channel

    Each channel is used in a different way in your communication plan. For instance:

    • Content Management #2

      You may decide to use Facebook for engaging people personally.

      Coca-cola did this recently by creating a Facebook post that related to a new advertising campaign. All it did was ask a thought-provoking question, and it got more than 200 shares and 10,000 likes. (No cokes were sold, but people got involved with the brand.)

    • Content Management #3

      You may choose to use Twitter for content curation, thought leadership and quotations.

      And maybe you like Google+ for discussing ideas related to your core/secondary messages.

    • Make that decision now.

      1. Refine your decision about the types of content you'll post in each channel. Be as specific as possible about how you'll use each channel.
      2. Also refine your decisions about the structure of your content.
      3. Consider the appropriate tone, or speaking style, that will help you achieve your objectives for each channel.

        Note:

        You want to maintain a single branded voice, but you can tweak that voice for different channels.

      4. Record your decisions for "Content Types," "Structure," and "Tone" in your Channel Plan.

        A few considerations that could help you decide...

        • Which followers are on each channel?
        • What are their expectations for marketers in that channel?
        • What type of content do they want or need?
  3. Create your work flow.

    1. Set up management of your content marketing.

      Who decides on and assigns topics? How far in advance? Does this person maintain the editorial calendar or does the person producing the content? You may have one managing editor who does this, or you may let writers suggest ideas.

    2. Decide who produces the content.

      You may have in-house writers who write all your content, you may hire outside writers, or you may do it all yourself. Some companies even allow any employee to apply to become a contributing writer and write blogs in addition to their other activities.

    3. Set up approval process.

      Who edits and approves content after it's produced? Generally, the managing editor also edits the content, provides meta-data to optimize it for search engines, and add pictures and other formatting. But in some organizations, one person edits, a subject matter expert approves, and yet another person approves the final article. Select a workflow that suits your own business structure.

    4. Assign technical labor.

      Who uploads the content? Does the writer, the editor, or a web specialist? And who maintains the blog or content pages to keep them working well technically?

    5. Assign responsibility for promoting the content.

      Who will promote your content in social channels? Do you have a social media specialist, or will one person write, post, and promote. If you have more than one person doing these tasks, make sure the communication lines are open and everyone is one the same page. That way your overall business objectives will be met in every stage of the process.

  4. Review the decisions you've made for each channel

    Content Management #4
    • In column A, you should have all the types of content you want to create as part of your content marketing strategy.
    • In column B, you should have the channels where you will publish that content. Include your website, blog, social media sites, and membership sites.
    • In column C, you should have your objective for each channel.
    • In column D, you should have a short description of the type of posts you'll publish in each channel.
    • In column E, you should see the frequency of your posts in each channel.
    • In column F, you should have the tone of your communications in each channel, based on your avatar and the expectations of people in those channels.
    • In column G, you should have the primary action you want to drive in each channel. This will be based on your content strategy.
    • In column H, you will record the URL of each channel once it's created.

Pulling It All Together

You should now have a good idea of:

  • Your objectives for content marketing and how it will fit into your marketing mix.
  • Your target audience.
  • Your strategy for creating and publishing content.
  • The technology you'll use to publish your content.
  • Your work flow for getting it done.

The decisions you've made so far have already placed you among the ranks of the best content marketers out there. Congratulations!

So let's move on to chapter 2...

How to Generate Thousands of Clickable Ideas for Your Content.

There you'll learn how and where to find plenty of ideas to keep a steady flow of high-quality, engaging content.