Perhaps one of the most common misconceptions existing in the marketing industry is that content is the king. While technically it might still be correct, a well-designed content strategy is the true ruler towards success.
When developing an overall marketing plan, content strategy is one of the essential building blocks. Fundamentally, a content marketing strategy consists of eight building blocks:
- Communication goals,
- Your target audience research,
- Product/service USP definition,
- An analysis of competitor communication activities,
- Communication channel choice,
- Content formats,
- Communication KPIs,
- How to implement it all in communication
The “how” part is the focal point in this article. Designing a content plan that works in your favor is essential for all stakeholders to reach more customers and close sales.
Yes, converting a strategy into an action plan can be intense and time-consuming. But the true art of creating a well-performing content plan is to combine the essence of all the steps mentioned earlier and design them into a clear message.
Design a content outline
Where to find content when you don’t have anything new to share? We create content for our clients using a content outline. It is a table with communication blocks (also called pillars) based on the clients’ industry and key selling points. Under each communication block, we list all the relevant topics associated with the specific pillar topic.
Let’s look at how a content outline might look for a client of ours – a virtual learning platform.
What we see in this table are seven communication blocks that the online school has chosen (highlighted in yellow). In communication, they separate each of their main online courses that are the most in-demand. Then they decided to refresh the promotional content with photos and video stories from their school life and some fun stuff.
Another significant communication pillar is alumni stories – content that validates the courses and helps to improve your situation. Answering their followers’ questions and sharing insightful content are the last two pillars the school highlights.
This outline supports topics relevant to the learning platforms’ products and services and helps organize straightforward content with pre-defined communication pillars. With a ready system, it’s possible to notice and draft messages and set visual guidelines throughout all channels.
Creating a communication pattern is an essential part of your content strategy. Finding the best content topics and then defining the regularity of publication sets certain expectations for your target audience.
But why is setting expectations so crucial in content planning? Frequent and logical posting shows your care about your target audience’s brand experience. Regular and consequent posts create a need to follow and see memorable and valuable brand content—for example, posting FAQ or relatable blog posts on the same day, same time every week.
Avoid copy-paste content
Content tailoring is not a waste of time. Duplicate content is a topic becoming more actual, with more brands making the shift to digital. Many businesses still don’t know that adjusting your message to channel specifics might bring new clients and business partners.
The positive impact of tailoring messages is something our clients also know. One client had low engagement on social media. Their copy-paste posts didn’t work well on Facebook, Instagram, and Linkedin channels. By spending just an extra 20 minutes on each post, they soon scored their next big client through Linkedin.
Amplify the message
When the message is drafted, choose a matching visual to amplify the message. When creating the content plan, aim for a strong visual impact. Keep in mind that humans have evolved through thousands of years, and most of the time, pictures have helped us communicate. Now, we’re not that different from the ancient people, and a clear, smooth connection between text and visuals is still essential for us.
Some marketing experts insist that the more daring the visual concept, the more attention you attract. Yet, in our experience, an SME going ‘bonkers’ on social media creates a chaotic and frivolous image, not to mention confusion. Unless it’s your intention, inconsequential communication doesn’t build solid online relationships with customers but only misunderstandings.
Where to find inspiration
Inspiration comes and goes, and thanks to the Internet, you shouldn’t worry about finding social media visuals. Nonetheless, we’ve reached a particular milestone where finding inspiration on Google is almost impossible if you don’t know what you’re looking for already.
We suggest making a switch to Instagram, Pinterest, or TikTok. These visual and highly engaging platforms have made it too easy to find your next social media post ideas. Significant help is the category search on Pinterest—this platform is so kind and offers trending topics so content creators wouldn’t miss the latest thing.
There are many different tools offering ready-to-use social media post templates for those who aren’t born designers. No need for inspiration when all you have to do is tailor the message.
There’s one more way to find inspiration, and it has everything to do with step 4 in the content marketing strategy. Look at what visual guidelines competitors follow while analyzing their online (and offline) activities.
There’s a chance that your competitors use an authentic graphic identity and images. If you’re a new player in the market without social-media-ready marketing materials, a great alternative is to use photo banks like JumpStory and others. The good news is that photobank databases contain millions of high-quality photos. Finding your next social media visual is easier than you might imagine.
Content plan To-Do list:
- Research everything relevant to your industry, audience, and product
- Define primary visual and written content guidelines for social media communication
- Choose a content management platform to plan and manage your content
- Create a content outline with main communication topics
- Keep the communication short, simple, consequential, and visual
- Tailor your content to each channel, audience, and purpose
- Keep your competitors close – monitor their activities
- Think outside the content plan and find out how to stretch your communication outside social media
- Evaluate your content performance and adjust to audience needs
About the author
Arta Rimicane is the Strategic Project Manager at NOTRE, a digital content marketing agency that helps SMEs in the Baltics with their marketing activities. She has several years of experience creating and managing marketing communications campaigns and writing content for brands. You can find and contact Arta on LinkedIn.