You’ve heard it said so many times: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. That’s definitely the case when it comes to content marketing. If you don’t have a content marketing plan in place, you might as well not even bother doing it.

Surprisingly, not every company that works with content marketing has a plan or strategy in place for it. The Content Marketing Institute’s B2C Content Marketing 2017 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends North America report revealed that just 40 percent of B2C marketers had strategies in place. According to the CMI’s B2B Content Marketing 2018 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends North America report, just 37 percent of B2B marketers had content marketing strategies or plans in place.

Those stats are despite the fact that having a plan in place makes a company more likely to succeed with content marketing. So, if your brand has yet to make a plan and is hoping to improve its content marketing results and efforts, here’s what you need to do.

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What’s in a Content Marketing Plan?

When putting together a plan for content marketing, it helps to ask yourself a few questions. The answers to these questions will form the backbone of your plan.

Why?

Why bother with content marketing? What is it that your brand hopes to achieve? Think of your company’s goals here, but also the ways that content marketing in particular will help you achieve them.

What?

What type of content will your brand produce? Will you write blog posts, make funny videos, or rely on influencers or others to produce content for you?

Where?

Where will the content live (on your brand’s website, on YouTube, on social media, etc.)?

When?

When will you produce and publish content? The more frequently you publish, the more momentum you’ll build. On the other hand, if you set a publishing schedule that is too full, you risk putting out garbage content that no one wants.

How?

Will you produce content in-house, with freelancers, or with influencers? How will you promote it (on social media, in a company newsletter)?

Who?

Who are you trying to reach with your content? Putting together buyer personas gives you an idea of your target audience(s), what they want, and what type of content will meet their needs.

Five Steps to Putting Together a Content Marketing Plan

Now that you know the who, what, when, where, why, and how of a content marketing plan, it’s time to follow a few actionable steps to make your content come to life.

1.) Set a goal.

Here’s the “why” part of your plan put into action. Set a goal for your content, whether it’s to increase website visits, boost conversions, or build up brand awareness.

2.) Define your audience.

Now’s the time to go about putting together your buyer personas so that you know who your content is going to address. Think about who your audience is, what type of content appeals to them, and their content needs.

3.) Create a calendar.

Putting together an editorial calendar will give you a good idea of when you’ll publish content, what deadlines to give your creators, and whether it’s appropriate to publish any seasonally relevant content (like something about back-to-school or New Year’s resolutions).

4.) Produce and publish content.

Finally, it’s time to actually make your content. Think With Google recommends creating content that does one of these three things:

  • Inspires your audience
  • Educates your audience (gives them useful tips and info)
  • Entertains your audience (makes them laugh or surprises them)

5.) Adjust as needed.

Your content marketing plan might not be perfect right off the bat. If so, no worries, as it’s more a guide than something that is set in stone. You might find that you got the audience wrong, or that you need to alter a goal. Or, you might find that you’re publishing too much and your content is suffering, or that you’re not publishing enough and people are losing interest.

Make adjustments to your plan based on response and results.

When to Start Planning for Content Marketing

Although it’s often ideal to make a plan or strategy for content marketing before you launch a campaign, you can also benefit from a plan that you create in the midst of a campaign.

If your brand’s current content marketing isn’t doing what you hoped, or if you’re not sure what it was you wanted to gain from content marketing, going back to square one and drawing up a plan can be what it takes to make content marketing succeed for you.

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