In a previous post, we discussed the fundamental importance of buyer personas to your B2B content marketing. And once you’ve defined your personas, it’s time to start creating content that will capture their attention, create valuable connections, and move them towards doing business with you.
So you need a content marketing plan.
Crafting a strategy that will fulfil the needs of your audience and meet your business goals requires careful consideration. Online, content forms the link between you and your future customers. Through it, you need to inform, to educate, to build trust and, ultimately, prove why you are better than your competitors; why you are the best choice.
Let's consider how you can come up with a winning content marketing plan to ensure you can do just that.
Carve out some time
First of all, you need to bring together the relevant members of your team and put your heads together – likely, on more than one occasion. Having a clear structure that will guide and define your content marketing efforts is the recipe for success.
Think about what your goals are – for example, how many leads would you like to acquire over a set period? And how many customers? These goals may change as you progress but that's ok - they will keep you focused on where you are heading, and how you might use content to get yourself there. More importantly, they will be useful measures of the success of your content marketing plan; the benchmarks by which to consider what worked and what needs rethinking, and where to focus your future inbound and content marketing efforts (more of that below).
Consider "what" and "when"
Next, with the same team, think about what type of content you will create. Blog posts are a great place to start, but you may also like to consider eBooks, infographics, interviews, guides, podcasts, videos, and the like. Again, with your persona in mind: what type of content do they consume? What do they comment on or share with their peers on social media? Remember that different content formats will suit your persona's needs as they progress towards making a buying decision - from early stage eBooks, for instance, to technical videos, to product sheets and case studies.
Then, start researching and brainstorming content ideas and topics that you will cover - derived from anywhere: commonly-asked customer questions, persona pain points, marketing campaigns, product/service launches, industry trends, social media trending, etc. HubSpot's Jay Acunzo wrote a post outlining his suggestions for brainstorming content ideas. Or our post, 5 simple ways to come up with blog ideas, may also provide inspiration.
Once you have ideas for topics and titles, you can compile these into an editorial calendar. You might use Google Docs, Microsoft Excel, or the like, and this document can then be shared with all the appropriate people. Your editorial calendar will not only plot topics/titles and creation/publishing dates, but also likely include the primary keywords, who will be writing the post, key points to include, any other associated content offers, and details of how your new content might be promoted. This approach will uncover a clear path forward, making it easier to stick to your content marketing commitments and regularly create winning content.
Be bold in your approach
Don’t be afraid to create content that pushes the boundaries and perhaps even makes you feel a little uncomfortable. As long as you are always keeping your target audience in mind, it’s often an effective method.
Writing on Copyblogger, Joanna Wiebe says that many businesses are "scared of saying something that gets noticed.
"They’re scared of writing copy that sounds and looks different from what everyone else is publishing.
"They’re terrified of stringing together line after line of notice-me copy that’s actually sticky enough to make visitors do a double-take. To stop bored eyes from rolling along aimlessly. To make busy people pause and take notice."
What will get you "noticed" will be dependent on the nature of your business and the wider industry. For example, if you are part of a sector where there is a distinct lack of content, then writing informative and educative blog posts that answer your audience’s questions and address their fears will make you stand out. On the other hand, if you exist in a content-saturated industry, you will probably need to think outside the box a little more.
It can be easy to think that producing content that is too "out there" will alienate too many people. But it’s ok if not everyone likes your content – after all, you’re not trying to build connections with everyone. You only need to engage with the "right" people for your business.
Don’t forget to track your activity
In order to ensure that your content marketing plan results in success, you need to constantly monitor and reassess what you are doing. In this way, you can identify early on whether you need to change your tactics.
As Demian Farnworth puts it on Copyblogger: "You’ll know if your content marketing strategy is working if you measure it."
Investing in a marketing automation solution can help you to achieve this. The right software will help you to promote and distribute your content so that it attracts new visitors - and turn those visitors into leads and then customers. And it will provide you with the tools to analyse the impact of your content at each stage of the buyer's journey.
For instance, you will be able to see which topics resonate the most with your audience and where there is room for improvement. And you will be able to better understand how individuals interact with your content.
Content builds a bridge between you and your target audience, leading them towards doing business with you. However, in order to make your content work well for you, you need to come up with a winning content marketing plan.
By spending time outlining your goals and creating an editorial calendar, you are far more likely to succeed. And by being fearless in your approach and continually analysing your progress, you can win first place in the right people's hearts - and wallets.