10 steps to creating great content. Content marketing part 3

This week I want to look at 10 steps to creating great content as this is critical to success. As previously mentioned, due to the sheer volume of information that’s now available, content has to be “great” or at the very least relevant and timely for the target audience.

This can be a pretty daunting task but here are 10 steps that will really help with the process.

  1. “Big picture” content identification. This looks for content topics where the concerns of our customers overlap with the business’s main areas of value and expertise.  This overlap is sometimes known as the “sweet spot” and represents solid content foundations that we can build on.
  2. Detail the target audience in the plan. If you have developed personas then their details need to be written down in the plan covering their name, a description of the person, their role and their day-to-day responsibilities, the challenges that they face as well their aspirations. This should be done for as many personas as is required. This helps to focus content with a person in mind and therefore introduces a level of personalisation. Not all businesses will have developed personas (although I would strongly suggest that you do) but the principles still apply.  Think of your target audience and try and understand the issues that they are important to them.
  3. Buying stages. We also need to examine the conversion funnel buying stages in detail remembering that this is likely to be different for each target audience.  Understanding the buying behaviours is a really important part of the process as it helps to determine what type of content is needed at what point in their buying cycle.
  4. Issue planning.  Having identified the personas/target audiences we can then plot a grid highlighting each stage of the buying process and their concerns at each of those stages.  In other words what questions do they want answered at what point in their decision making process.
  5. Topic planning.  We can now quickly see there are a range of issues that are beginning to emerge at each stage of the buying process which will help us understand the topics and the type of content that we need to generate.  This can again be plotted on a grid perhaps showing sample headlines.  N.B. This process really helps with the generation of content ideas which can often be a stumbling block for organisations.
  6. Team structure. Having identified the topics that we need content for, we can start to look at where content should come from.  In other words who is the most relevant person/department to answer the concerns of the customer.  That said, there still needs to be structure and responsibility associated with content generation. Typically this is headed up by a team managing editor who is the principal coordinator for managing the generation of content.  This position should be supported by a content leadership team who will review the content metrics, customer feedback and be responsible for the content grid and strategy.  In addition content contributors from both inside and outside the organisation need to be identified and informed.
  7. Content Ideas.  As previously mentioned this can often be a stumbling block but if we focus on the needs of the customer and the issues that they are facing it can help to identify suitable topics which can then be turned into meaningful ideas for content. Other sources for ideas will include social listening (what’s the buzz across various social media platforms), feedback from the sales team and other customer facing contacts and any customer research or survey information.  In each case the source of the content, the process for generating it and the person responsible for publishing it needs to be identified.
  8. Production and distribution. Having identified the content idea, the point in the buying process and the customer it is aimed at, then the idea must be turned into a relevant type of content for the target market and distributed accordingly.  So for each idea there needs to an output type e.g. a blog post, a video, an e-book, webinar etc. Remember that most content can be atomised too so that a single content idea can be turned into a number of content types and outputs.  For example a single piece of research can probably be turned into lots of tweets, several blogs, a couple of videos and an e-book.Having decided on the content type, then a plan for that content needs to be created that lists the steps that need to be taken for getting the idea to a completed project. For example this might include first draft of a blog, SEO review, copy edit, add graphics, managing editor approval, compliance approval, publish and tweet link.  Along with the list would be the people responsible for generating content, approval procedures and dates.
  9. Annual calendar.  This is essentially an editorial calendar which will show at a glance the topics that are being covered each month.  This helps with the planning of generating the content for each topic.
  10. Monthly calendar. This is supported by the detailed monthly calendar with daily schedules which show the actual content type and when it is scheduled to be published.  This is a document that can be distributed across the business so that all customer facing people know what is going to be published and when.  This calendar should also be used to encourage feedback from within the business.


If you would like to see those 10 steps expanded on check out the following webinar by Marketo : How to Build and Operate a Content Marketing Machine

content marketing machine


Next week I’ll look in more detail at the different types of content and the channels of distribution. If you need to catch up on the previous blogs you can get Part 1 here >> and Part 2 here >>

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