How to manage and activate your content marketing plans.
Updated: Apr 8
5 of 6.
This is the penultimate in a series of blogs, which applies a 5-pillar framework for creating a professional content marketing strategy. Previously, I have given you a broad introduction to content marketing, what it is and why it’s important, as well as practical advice and examples:
Pillar 1. Purpose & goals: how to set actionable marketing goals and objectives to improve your content strategy.
Pillar 2. Target audience: how to create content for your key customers that converts.
Pillar 3. Story: how to structure your content marketing plan around unique and valuable topics.
This blog looks at the 4th pillar of the framework:
Stage 4. Process: how to manage and activate your content marketing plans.
You should have a concise document that is available to your teams that details your editorial style and brand voice. This should resonate with your customers. Your content guidelines may include what is safe or not safe to try. For example, swearing may be prohibited, or you may need to use specific terminology to adhere to organisational policies. For example, you may be rolling out a content marketing plan for a college and need to use acceptable terms of reference and language.
This document will compliment your brand guidelines which will coordinate the look and feel of your content, in terms of the colours, fonts, and imagery used etc, so that it has a recognisable brand, which is unique to your organisation.
Content marketing calendar
It’s a good idea to try to map out an annual content marketing calendar, once you have identified your unique stories, topics, and themes. This will give you an overview of what needs to be delivered each month and give you an idea about the resources you will require. It goes without saying that your content plan needs to be within your budget, so if you are on a limited budget, you need to ensure you have the capabilities to deliver this internally, or the means to commission an agency or freelancer.
Your content marketing calendar will align with the marketing activities highlighted in your annual strategic marketing plan. So, you should already be aware of which quarter/ month a new product is due to launch, or which trade shows and events your will be delivering or supporting for example. While you may not have all pieces of the “jigsaw puzzle” figured out yet, you can start to plot key deliverables into your calendar.
You should also consider integrating your social media plan, so that days that are celebrated or recognised within your market sector are noted. You may be surprised at how many days a year is dedicated to the “social calendar” for all sorts of different types of business and industries. Why not do some research into those that your organisation is likely to support?
For example, a college may decide to support International Women’s Day to promote courses that are under-represented by women and girls. In this way, your plan will focus on both internal or organisational content and external content that connects the wider world.
You don’t need to use anything fancy to create your content marketing calendar. There are lots of free templates on the market, or you can simply customise an Excel spreadsheet.
Content creation, editing and approval
So now you know what needs to be created and when, you will need an approval system to ensure what you publish meets required standards.
Larger organisations prefer to approve lightweight content i.e., content that is tactical, less demanding, and less expensive to create, such as blog posts, podcasts, case studies, webinars, and press releases, as well as heavyweight strategic content, such as whitepapers, infographics, and E-books in advance. So, it’s likely that content will need to be approved by a Brand Manager or Marketing Director. However short-form social media posts will more than likely also need to be approved before being distributed, in which case a scheduling system, such as Hootsuite can be used.
Smaller organisations may not have the resources to invest in an enterprise level content scheduling system and may decide to publish content on the fly.
Distribute and promote
All content needs to be promoted through a range of channels. These channels are loosely grouped into owned media (such as company websites), paid media (advertising and PR) and earned media (case studies, feature articles, customer testimonials), which may be promoted via third parties, groups and communities as well as social media channels, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.
A range of tools, and resources can be used to distribute content effectively:
Medium: a free content platform that individuals and businesses available use to publish content. Often used in addition to a blog to increase content reach.
Add This: an on-page sharing tool to allow readers to share content to social media without leaving the page.
Outbrain: a native advertising platform that enables ad campaigns to be set up to drive traffic to an organisation’s content across third-party sites.
Hootsuite: a social media management platform. The system's user interface takes the form of a dashboard, and supports social network integrations for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
HubSpot: HubSpot’s platform has all the tools and integrations needed for inbound marketing, and content management.
ContentCal: a simple content marketing tool that helps marketers plan, create, and publish compelling social media content.
There are a wide range of tools and platform available on the market.
And don’t forget, that to manage your content effectively you need to regularly review your content, edit, or archive it to ensure it is up to date, relevant and of interest to your audience.
The final blog in this series will be on measurement. How will you gauge performance and optimise efforts? What metrics will you use and how will you test and adapt your content so that it performs better in future?