Everything runs more smoothly with a well-thought-out plan so why should content be any different? As a PR and content agency we’ve created many content plans for our clients over the years. From hyper-focused projects to long-term plans of action, there are a few universal things to keep in mind when building a successful content plan.
Get your bambrew ready, here are our tips.
Decide on the objective for your content plan
We know, meeting after meeting makes it difficult to find the time to think about the content you’re keen on producing.
You’d be amazed at how many companies leapfrog this important step in the content planning process. Sometimes a content plan is for one specific theme and audience. Other times it’s used to plan content for multiple topics and audiences. Whichever it is, you still need to think carefully about its aim.
You don’t want to be creating content for content’s sake. It’s already hard enough to break through the noise. The two most important questions you should be asking of your content plan are:
- What is the purpose of this content?
- Who is it for?
The planning stage is the time to answer these questions and set clear intent for your content. Keep referring to these answers throughout the process to ensure you’re still hitting your main objectives.
What types of content should you include in a content plan?
Once you have defined the purpose and audience, it’s time to consider the best content format to achieve these goals.
Different content serves various purposes. Depending on your main objective, your content plan should include a mixture (told you we’d keep referring to this!).
Do you want your content to educate or drive leads? Do you know the type of content your audience engages with most? What emotions do you want the audience to feel?
This is by no means an exhaustive list but here are some types of content and their aims:
- Blog – Still a great format to improve SEO, blogs demonstrate expertise and direct readers to other relevant content on your website.
- Ebook – For larger topics that require in-depth analysis, eBooks are a useful asset to educate and inform.
- Press release – The best way to communicate company news or product updates to the industry, relevant journalists, and publications.
- Thought leadership – Another type of PR, a thought leadership piece is an opportunity to share senior executives’ insight on a relevant topic with the industry. This differs to brand-owned thought leadership (Marco’s spoken about this on his LinkedIn).
- White papers – Chunkier than a blog but more serious than an eBook, white papers are the best way to communicate stats and findings from research or in-depth industry or product knowledge.
- Case studies – These are the ideal way to communicate feedback about your products or services from real-life companies or individuals. They’re perfect for establishing your brand and raising brand awareness.
- Product descriptions – Engaging content that gives the reader a real sense of your product, from features and benefits to use case scenarios.
- Images – Great for providing an engaging accompaniment to passages of text.
- Infographics – Visually appealing, infographics help people easily understand complex information by putting it into a more digestible format. Infographics are also shareable, giving your content wider amplification and reach.
- Videos – Videos are very engaging and perfect for formats such as product or software tutorials.
- Presentations – Excellent for helping build rapport with your audience by connecting with them on a more personal level. Presentations can be delivered online, in-person, or as an on-demand recording.
- Webinars – Webinars are the ideal way to reach a global audience, enabling you to increase brand awareness and reach without leaving the office. Additionally, they are interactive and engaging, providing an excellent platform for customers to engage directly with your brand or products.
- Podcasts – In the age of E-E-A-T, podcasts are perfect for establishing your brand ambassadors as industry subject matter experts. They’re a convenient way for people to consume your content on-the-go and provides a more personal connection to your brand.
Content marketing plan activation – time for the pointy end of planning
The content journey doesn’t end when you press publish. Ideally your content has months or even years of use, so you need to think about content activation. Content activation is how some people refer to the process of launching a piece.
Types of activation content include:
- Email campaign
- Social media
- Digital advertising
- Landing pages
- PR promotion
All this content takes time to create, so the next step in your content plan is plotting out when it needs to be ready and whether it’s the responsibility of sales, marketing or other departments to get the content out there.
Set realistic timelines but adapt as you go
So, you know the why, the what and the how, but how do you actually do this in practice?
Step one, what timeframe are you working towards?
It sounds obvious, but if you have a launch date in mind, work backwards from that. How long do you want your content plan to run for? Realistically, how long do you think it will take to create everything with the resources you have? Can you do it alone?
Mapping out content
You’ve got your list of content you’d like to deliver by the time of the ultimate deadline. Is there any way some of the content can be created concurrently?
Whilst one piece of content is in the approval process can you start writing the first draft of another piece? Can one of your team members work on the final edits whilst you create the email campaign?
This part takes time to map out clearly but is where you can make the most efficiencies and can be the difference between a good and an excellent content plan.
The approval process takes longer than you think
Remember. content creation isn’t just a first draft, that’s the easy part! Most content needs a round of approval from key stakeholders and your content is one of many things on their to do list.
Nobody wants to feel rushed, and this is when errors can creep in. Allow plenty of time for everyone in the approval chain to review and provide feedback. That being said, we always find setting a realistic deadline helps keep the approval process moving.
Don’t forget the design stage
Creating content that needs design work? This is another part of the content creation process that people often forget to accommodate time for. Creative work is one of the hardest types of content to get right first time, even with a thorough brief, so always leave time for a few rounds of edits.
It’s never the final version!
Always include a buffer for any last-minute changes, unexpected issues (such as sickness) or technical glitches (because there will always be some!). This is also the time to do a final, thorough proof of everything to catch any stray typos or formatting issues.
Project management tools
A perfectly plotted content plan is all well and good but it’s all in the execution. Choosing the right project management tool for your business is down to personal preference. Whatever you choose, you need to be able to track the status of each task, upcoming deadlines and key people involved for each stage.
Make sure to communicate this plan to anyone that is involved and confirm deadlines with everyone avoiding any unnecessary hold-ups further down the line.
Can you achieve everything in the content plan on your own?
Now that you’ve set your objectives, chosen your content, mapped out your timelines and assigned everyone the only thing left is to get started!
A content agency (we hear Bamboo is good at this) can help lighten the load of content creation, helping you focus on delivering the content plan and hitting those all-important KPIs. No time to think about the content plan full stop? Get in touch to learn about our content marketing service or if you have questions about what to do next..