How to Create a Successful Content Marketing Plan: Step-By-Step Guide

According to the Content Marketing Institute, 65% of the most successful content marketing performers have a documented strategy. As for the least successful content marketers, only 14% of them make the plan.

There’s a clear connection. Successful performers strategize and plan. Each action they take is a step forward towards a particular goal.

If you’re new to content marketing, learning how to develop a plan is a priority.

First, let’s distinguish the two concepts:

  • The content marketing strategy defines why and how you will use content to achieve particular goals.
  • The content marketing plan is a specific scheme of topics and themes that you’ll address at a defined point of time.

How to Make an Effective Content Marketing Plan

You’ll start developing the content marketing plan after you have a strategy. Once you’re done setting the major goals, take these five steps toward developing a content marketing plan:

1. Understand the Purpose

Do you know why many marketers don’t develop a plan? They don’t see the point.

Why would they invest time in organizing their content marketing schedule when they can simply go with the flow? They could get inspired by competitors, trends, and random ideas.

You could do that, but it’s not the most effective way to promote something.

The content marketing plan has a clear purpose:

It puts each piece of content in line with the strategy

It helps you stick to the true interests of your audience

It helps you develop trends instead of following them

It prevents a complete block

Just remind yourself that successful content marketers always approach the task with a plan.

2. Focus on the Target Persona

You already created one for your content marketing strategy. Now, make their interests more specific.

Answer these questions:

What is your target persona struggling with?

What questions do they have?

What type of content do they prefer?

These will be your guiding points for the topics and the type of content you’ll publish.

3. Plan to Develop Different Types of Content

Content marketing is not limited to blog posts and guest posts in the form of text. You can develop several other types of content:

  • Images and graphics
  • Infographics
  • E-books
  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • Slideshows

You can mix in various types of content in your plan at the beginning. Then, you’ll analyze how your audience responds to them. With time, you’ll adjust to the preferences of your audience and you’ll provide more of what they love.

4. Make a Schedule

So you know your audience and you know what types of content you want to publish. Now what?

You’ll develop the actual plan; that’s what!

You can use a simple tool like Google Calendar for that. There’s no need to get fancy. The important thing is to develop a well-balanced content marketing schedule.

How often do you want to publish new content? There’s no universal answer to the question of how frequently you should publish. You’ll have to follow the vibe of your audience. If you’re looking for a specific guideline, start by publishing new posts once or twice per week. Anything less than once per week is not enough.

Don’t go too bold by planning to post every single day. Can you handle such a schedule? Sure; you can hire a “do my essay for cheap” service to help you keep up with it. But does your audience need that much content? Such a busy schedule will quickly lead you to a lack of ideas.

Brainstorm! That’s the easiest way to get content ideas. You’ll come up with several topics that would be fun to tackle. Then, you’ll just put them in your plan.

Try not to copy your competitors at this point. You’ll notice that everyone is covering more or less the same issues. You can talk about them, but choose a unique angle and offer something different. No one wants to read rewrites or paraphrased content over and over again.

5. Remember the Main Rule: Quality; Not Quantity

“Publish as frequently as possible” is not a good rule to follow. It will lead you to brief, meaningless posts that don’t make a difference to your audience.

Whenever you publish a new piece of content, it should deliver great value.

This is a good rule to follow: “Publish as frequently as possible without affecting the quality of your content.”

500 words used to be the golden standard in content marketing. It no longer works. The audience prefers long-form content nowadays. It works because it gives in-depth guidelines and complete solutions.

Would you like to read several articles on how to develop a content marketing plan instead of one? Most people would prefer getting a complete solution in a single post. It saves them time and energy. Think about it!

All Content Marketers Need a Plan

A content marketing plan is not something you choose to do if you have the time for it. It’s practically a necessity.

Approaching the marketing process with a plan will improve your chances to reach the targets within the desired timeframe.

You’ll understand what the audience needs, and you’ll develop regular doses of the content they like. You’ll keep reminding them about your brand, so they will get more familiar with it.

It’s not that hard to create a content marketing plan. You’ll brainstorm for topics that align with your strategic goals. You’ll think of unique ways to approach them, and you’ll put them in your schedule. From there on, you’ll be ready to take actionable steps.

John Pearson is a serial entrepreneur and writer who is passionate about helping small businesses launch and grow. His work has been featured in Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, and Forbes.

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