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Three Basic Steps To Plan Your 2020 Content Marketing Campaign

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Any savvy marketer knows there is a lot more to content development than writing a blog and haphazardly publishing it to your company’s website when you have time. To create and execute a content marketing campaign successfully, your content should have a carefully crafted purpose and be planned out well in advance.

Great content delivers the exact information your prospective customers need, when and where they need it — and one of the best ways to accomplish this is with a full-fledged content marketing campaign.

For many business professionals, this process is much easier said than done. Below, we’ll explore a few basic steps to get your 2020 campaign started:

1. Consider Your 2020 Goals

At this point in the year, your team has likely already mapped out a strategic plan for your organization in 2020 — from strategizing how you will manage your online reputation and what (if any) leadership changes will take place, to new technology you will implement to streamline processes.

Before planning your content marketing campaign, it is essential to consider the goals your team has set in place for the new year, and how your content will complement them and drive results.

If you have not already, identify your focus for 2020. Are you targeting a new market demographic? Have you made changes to your products or services that you plan to promote? Are you offering a new promotion?

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The answers to these questions will dictate your focus. From there, you can identify the keywords someone might use to search for information about your services and what blog content would resonate best with your target audience.

For example, when one of our clients, an alternative online ratings platform, set a goal to change its core messaging, our agency shifted the company’s entire campaign. The client wanted to shift from promoting how alternative ratings can drive new leads and instead focus on how the ratings market is transforming to meet the changing needs of today’s consumers. Our team took this fresh messaging and developed blogs, emails and social media posts to complement and promote the client’s new focus with great success.

2. Research Your Buyer Persona(s)

Never lose sight of your buyer persona(s) when planning your content. While you now have a primary focus in mind for your content, it is still important to consider the pain points your prospective customers are experiencing, and address these challenges in all pieces of your content accordingly. If your content does not speak to your persona, your campaign will likely suffer and may not drive the ROI you desire.

According to HubSpot, “A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.”

Research the market demographics of your audience. Take into consideration customer demographics, behavior patterns, goals and motivations. Be as detailed as possible. What social channels do they use regularly? Where do they like to spend their free time? What products or services are most valuable to them? What’s the most challenging aspect of their daily life that you are trying to solve?

These questions will not only help you determine who your content should be targeted toward and how it should be promoted, but they will help you craft specific blog and offer topics that position your business as a valuable resource.

For example, with the alternative ratings platform, our research found that its buyer personas — decision makers and senior-level marketing managers — were not only struggling to understand why alternative ratings were important but also why their internal online reputation management efforts alone were not yielding the results they desired.

3. Plan Your Content

When I talk about content marketing, I do not just mean blogging. While blogging is an integral component of your campaign, your strategy should also include social media, emails and drip campaigns, downloadable offers, and landing pages.

That being said, a campaign often begins with engaging blogs that then lead prospective customers down the marketing funnel. With your 2020 focus and buyer persona in mind, it is time to determine a series of blog topics that support and promote your goals while addressing the pain points of your target audience.

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For example, when the alternative ratings platform shifted its messaging, our team developed an extensive list of blog topics to support the change. Instead of topics like “Five Ways Alternative Ratings Can Drive Leads to Your Business,” we brainstormed topics like “Why Subjective Ratings Are on the Downfall, and How Your Business Should Respond” and “Why Your Online Reputation Management Efforts Aren’t Working.”

These topics not only promote the company’s new messaging, but also address some of the core pain points of the company’s buyer personas.

Once you have your blog topics in place, things should begin to flow more easily. From here, you will develop supporting social media posts, targeted email campaigns and downloadable offers that help tie these pieces together while promoting your organization’s products or services.

Planning What Works Best For Your Business

While the basics of developing a strategic content marketing campaign are similar across various industries, the implementation of this strategy will vary depending on your business and location and the market demographics of your audience.

Ultimately, you must map out what will work best for your organization and buyer persona(s). Setting up and growing a successful content marketing campaign takes time, patience, creativity and organization. If you follow these steps to get you started, executing your strategy for the new year won’t be as daunting as it seems.

Forbes Agency Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?

Owner of Criterion.B, overseeing client strategy and company culture.

 

Source: Three Basic Steps To Plan Your 2020 Content Marketing Campaign

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Your Marketing Stinks Like Fear That’s Why Your Content is Getting Ignored

Fear is like sex, sweet onions, and a seven-day road trip: Once the stink gets on you, it’s hard to shake. And, when it comes to the marketing strategies used and the content created by most organizations, that stink is so overwhelming it drives their audience toward any alternative that seems even remotely bold.

How do you gauge the influence fear has in your approach to marketing, communications, and content?

It’s relatively simple.

Do you make decisions about marketing, communications, and content based on:

  • Unwritten industry norms?
  • A desire to appeal to every possible audience?
  • A reluctance to be the first?
  • An avoidance of anything remotely controversial or political?
  • A lack of faith in your marketing and communications team?
  • A lack of knowledge about (or worse, judgement of) modern, diverse cultures and generations?
  • The way you’ve always done it?
  • An unwillingness to avoid making anyone angry?
  • A worry that you’ll look, feel, or get called stupid?

If the answer is yes to any of these questions, fear is playing a big role in your marketing and content creation.

Fear can be useful. For example, that guy who made the documentary where he canoodled with grizzly bears before being eaten by a grizzly bear could have used a little more natural fear encoded in his DNA.

But you aren’t canoodling with grizzly bears.

You are running a business.

In business, fear is the fastest road to irrelevancy.

And irrelevancy is failure.

To better understand how fear leads directly to irrelevancy in your marketing and communications, take a broader view of the word “content.” That word means more than just Instagram posts, videos, and blogs.

Content also includes movies, books, music, and art.

Using that definition, think of the content that forms big parts of our shared cultural history. Think Uncle Tom’s Cabin, The Grapes of Wrath, Invisible Man, Star Trek, The Twilight Zone, every Motown record Berry Gordy ever produced, “This Land is Your Land,” every painting Frida Kahlo ever painted, The Catcher in the Rye, every book Toni Morrison ever authored–all part of our shared history.

Combined, all the great works of content like the ones mentioned above represent an immeasurably small percentage of all the content produced, period. But the content we remember? The content that changes all of us collectively, and each of us individually? Behavioral change is the goal of any marketer, and content that succeeds in changing behavior–regardless of whether it is a great novel or a thirty-second commercial–is fearless.

Always.

Every time.

The same is true for your organization’s marketing and communications strategy. The only way to succeed as a marketer is to be heard, and the only way to be heard is to be fearless.

Finally, being bold and being fearless do not justify using Gandhi’s voice to sell Hyundais during the Super Bowl. That sort of “fearlessness” is just cynicism with good cinematography.

Plus, everyone knows Gandhi would never drive a Hyundai Accent.

The man was a revolutionary.

And revolutionaries only drive the all-new, redesigned Hemi-powered Dodge Ram.

Be bold.

Be fearless.

Be a better marketer.

 

By: Dustin McKissen

Source: Your Marketing Stinks Like Fear. That’s Why Your Content is Getting Ignored | Inc.com

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5 Key Elements of a Great Content Marketing Plan – Neema Kapoor

 

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First of all, I know that you are in all probability a one-man team with a deadline that expired yesterday but having a written plan is not only important but non-negotiable for the following 5 reasons.

  • A written plan with personas, themes, and strategies is a part of a formal process that allows you to request a budget and support without which even the best content will remain unseen.
  • A document allows you to get inputs from people smarter but busier than you (including the future you) and helps you map trackable goals of what you expect to achieve and when.
  • Writing down all the good ideas reduces the organization’s dependence on people (mostly you), plus it enables teamwork and is intuitively a smart idea in every way.

Good campaigns are ongoing and a lot more work than a single person can handle. You will need approvals, often be asked to make modifications, and be required to work with subject matter experts, writers, and designers for the final output. At times like these, having a document that you can send over or use as a common discussion point helps immensely and is far more efficient than explaining the bald, depressed potbellied guy in your head who you know NEEDS a shower head with 5 pressure settings.

Now plans follow standard templates with predetermined sections, often standardized within companies or downloadable by the dozen from a standard online search. You may often choose to combine or break down sections to make it your own but all plans should ideally cover the 5 elements outlined below.

1. THE STORY:

This is the foundation stone and, if neglected, also the place where most plans come to die. It is the “why” behind everything else. Why are you the fairest of them all? Create desire, passion, and drama, and elevate it BEYOND the ordinary. Do a short video, include props when you finally present it but make sure your team understands and shares the vision. A lot of companies create story boards with real life characters and details that get more vivid with time.

If you are stuck, I would recommend the HubSpot Academy Content Marketing Certification Course  to get started. It covers basic concepts but does a really good job of explaining the storytelling bit.

2. USER PERSONAS:

While tackled at the story level, this section is about their income, their lives, and their hopes and aspirations.

Where they shop, what they eat and how many children they wished they had. What they read, where they hang out and what other brands keep them company. This detail is important for 2 reasons.

A) It helps you visualize and therefore talk to them better.

B) It helps your media department advise you on how best to find them.

The niche you define needs to be large enough to be profitable but similar enough to have enough common features that make them a relevant sub group.

It is also extremely important to update these personas when necessary. A 60 year old grandma in 2018 looks and acts very different from a grandma in 1972.

A buyer persona is simply the most detailed, composite visual and textual sketch that you can create on the basis of hard evidence. I find the below 3 absolutely necessary before you can start writing.

  • Demographics along with a picture. (Age / Gender / Income Group… etc.)
  • Hobbies / Interests / Dreams in the context of how your brand fits.
  • Challenges / Difficulties / Problems in the context of how your brand can help.

But in case you have a mature understanding of your customer then you can refer to the nine that are discussed here:

60-75 year old grandmother who lives alone on a fixed but small school teacher pension.

Interested in keeping herself busy. Reads a lot. Always trying to learn a new recipe or skill in her free time.

Educated but still struggling to grasp new apps and smart gadgets which she wants to use to stay in touch with her family and friends.

3. DESIRED ACTION AND METRICS:

What do you want them to do? How will you know if they have done it? DO NOT write a word till you have a clear idea of your objectives. Now, setting quantitative goals is hard especially if this is the first campaign that you are doing with no benchmark data but it is essential to have a number to work towards.

The simple act of having a number brings you way closer to it that you can imagine.

While everything ultimately maps onto the customer journey cycle, I found this one article particularly useful, one way to visualize it is as below.

DO THEY KNOW YOU EXIST?

Depending on how competitive your niche is, this first step can be hard enough and the metric will depend on the channel used. The simplest measure for this is traffic, sessions, or views. Unfortunately, while the Rule of 7 is not cast in stone, getting noticed takes more than a casual bump in the hall. You will need to ensure that each prospect gets multiple opportunities to interact with your brand and story in order to truly understand it.

NOW THAT THEY KNOW YOU EXIST, DO THEY WANT TO HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH YOU?

Ok, so far you could blame your measly marketing budget or your ancient website’s loading speed but now comes the BIG moment of truth when your story REALLY comes into play. It is truly wise to set as many micro goals like session time/comments on a blog post or the downloads for an e-book as you can. These help ease your prospects into a more definite engagement, whatever that may be.

WHAT DO THEY SAY ABOUT YOU WHEN YOU ARE NOT AROUND?

This is a clear bonus, an icing or sprinkles kind of an extra, but having people say nice things about you, refer your services, promote, and even defend you is every marketer’s wet dream. Make sure you put in place processes, tools and even rewards that allow and incentivize people to put you on a pedestal.

4. PROMOTION STRATEGY AND BUDGET

Once you have a number of leads, views or shares in mind, you need to ensure that you have a promotion plan that supports it. You could write the greatest piece of content ever created but your customer is NOT going to see it till you invest in promoting it in the right channels be it a sponsored post, social advertisement or email. You will need a budget and point 3 is the only way you are going to get it sanctioned.

Now, I’m going to skim over this section but only because I plan to give you the link to the greatest book ever written on the subject. Please just read it cover to cover and become a content promotion GOD overnight.

5. TEAM AND THE OPERATIONAL SPECIFICS

Who will write, edit, QA, and promote it? In what quantity? Do you need subject matter experts, freelancers, or full time staff? What will be their respective roles and responsibilities? These are all questions you must ask yourself.

A content campaign is ideally not a one person job. You may feel

the need for subject matter experts, writers, editors, analytics pros, IT folks or marketing promotion support. You should work towards building efficiencies and scale through repurposing and recycling content that is successful. Modify and re-test the content that is not.

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