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Break Rules: A Content Marketing World-Inspired Content Marketing Plan

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Marketing is an activity that is never done, and if you have been using the same content marketing plan for some time, it’s time to give it new life. Now more than ever, competition is tough, and you have to stay on top of marketing innovation and trends to make sure that your competition does not beat you to your potential customer. With Content Marketing World 2021 just around the corner, we’re going to take some time to revisit the highlights from last year. This article will serve as a framework to help you create a content marketing plan that will lead to more revenue and share of voice by using the great content-focused insights taught and discussed at Content Marketing World 2020.

Content Marketing World 2020 brought together some of the greatest marketing minds on the planet. The content covered will give you some fresh ideas for updating your content marketing strategy and content marketing plan. Let’s get to the good stuff!

Content Marketing Strategy

Whether you are developing a B2B content marketing strategy or direct-to-customer strategy, your strategy, and every piece of content that you create must be in alignment with your business goals. If it is time to revisit your content marketing strategy, a content audit should be the first step. This means taking a look at what you have done in the past and making sure that it is still in alignment with your business’s mission, vision, values, and goals. If you are starting a new business, begin with crafting your company’s mission, vision, and values.

Robert Rose, Content Marketing Institute Chief Strategy Advisor, highlights this in his keynote address:

“Content marketing has to evolve into this idea of architecting a desire, that it is no longer good enough to satisfy a need or a question that a consumer may have, but we have to create more connected experiences that create further desire as a new operational strategy for making content truly work across the enterprise.”

Photo by Oli Dale on Unsplash

Four Steps for Marketing Strategy Magic

  1. Nail down your offering and market
  2. Note your profitable, influential, and strategic customers
  3. Establish a clear vision for your business
  4. Craft your marketing strategy playbook

The worst thing that you can do is to assume that once you have developed your content strategy for your blog, podcast, product, service, or website that your job is done. One of the best things that you can do is to keep up with the latest news in content marketing and learn from Content Marketing Institute‘s great resources and join their thriving community of content marketers. The knowledge that you’ll gain will help your content strategy remain fresh.

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    Content Planning

    The most important component in the execution of the strategy is the content marketing plan. The website content plan goes beyond the content calendar. It includes all areas of your digital marketing strategy. This includes marketing events, blog content distribution, continual analysis of your target market, and developing your own internal content marketing best practices.

    Documenting Your Content Plan

    Erika Heald, of Erika Heald Marketing Consulting, says, “Without a documented plan, your content marketing strategy is just random acts of content, and random acts of content can’t meet your goals.”

    She points out that if you do not have a documented content plan, you can be sure that your competition does. Having a plan that is not documented does not allow you to measure your results. This means that you cannot track your progress and will not be likely to meet your goals.

    Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

    Know the Customer Ecosystem

    In another important message, Melanie Deziel highlights the importance of having goals and knowing where you are going with your plan. This applies to your target market and understanding the ecosystem in which they operate. Without a solid content marketing plan, you will not reach your goals in terms of page views and conversions. This applies to you, whether you are marketing your own products and services, or whether you are an agency that is performing content marketing for others.

    The Importance of Evergreen Content

    In your planning for the future, do not forget the value of evergreen content. Otherwise, you will have to continually reinvent the wheel. Evergreen content is content that is not time-restricted. It will always be relevant and provide good information to your audience. Evergreen content can be your best friend when it comes to planning because it keeps giving and producing results well into the future.

    Photo by Dose Media on Unsplash

    Content Production

    Blank page syndrome is the killer of any content marketing strategy and the best-made plans. The best-made content marketing plan will not succeed if you do not have high-quality content to drive it, but for many, how to create quality content is a mystery. Try the 5-step writing process if you’re feeling stuck.

    Overcoming Content Creation Challenges

    Melanie Deziel, Chief Content Officer of StoryFuel, addresses this issue of feeling stuck when she talks about the pitfalls of brainstorming and content creation. One of the pitfalls that she sees with her clients is that they see many content topic possibilities out there, but they often have limited resources. They have high expectations about the quality and type of content that they want to create, but they do not have any clue about where to begin to bridge the gap between their expectations and making it a reality. Deziel found that the greatest challenge to overcome is a lack of resources.

    Many companies suffer from a lack of resources when it comes to content creation. The question for Deziel then becomes, “How can we create the content we want with the resources that we do have?” The main challenge for many companies is a lack of personnel dedicated to content. Often, it is only one person who does content marketing as an add-on to their regular tasks.

    Another challenge is a lack of creativity. Now, this person who already has an overloaded schedule of responsibilities must also come up with killer content that gets responses and drives sales. Tight timelines and limited budgets are the killers of creativity, but Deziel considers creating content to be process-driven, rather than an innate talent that you are either born with or not born with from the beginning. She has a few tips to stop staring at a blank page and start writing purpose-driven content that is tailored for your audience.

    Deziel breaks down the process into steps that focus on the questions, who, what, when, where, why, and how. She says that every problem answers at least two of these questions. You simply choose two from the list and begin brainstorming and writing. All you have to do is to start answering these questions, and your content will soon start to flow.

    Image by Manfred Steger from Pixabay

    Decision Overload

    Deziel says that blank page syndrome is often not the problem of having not enough choices or ideas, but rather, it is that having too many choices can lead to “freeze”. You can’t decide which path to take, which leads to something known as decision paralysis. Having choices is usually a good thing, but it can lead to procrastination if you can’t decide where to begin. Placing constraints on the brain by focusing on two of the key questions will get your brain moving and the words flowing onto the page. Constraints (especially deadlines) are the best procrastination busters for content production.

    Learn more content production tips from Melanie Deziel in her book The Content Fuel Framework.

    Don’t Tell the Story, Be the Story

    Now that you have words flowing onto the page and have the questions that you want to answer for your audience, we now learn that this is not enough in today’s world. A. Lee Judge, Co-founder, and CMO of Content Monsta, says that it is, “not enough to tell the story, but you have to be the story.” What he means is that you have to connect with the audience and earn their trust. They need to connect with you and see you as a “real” person, not just a faceless corporation.

    Judge talks about the need to learn from the person who is most passionate about the brand. This is the person who made the brand or uses the brand, not just the person who sells the brand. It is important to capture the personality of the brand, to be authentic, and make it believable. Judge points out that you are the content, and there is no longer any barrier between the customer and the product.

    The marketer used to be the middleman, which created a filter surrounding authenticity. Now, you are the brand, and authenticity is important for building brand trust. Judge suggests that regardless of your product, successful CEOs and founders engage regularly with their audience on a personal level. Connections are formed by real, raw interactions, which means that you need to pick up that phone, or jump on YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, Zoom, or Google Meet, and tell your story whenever inspiration hits.

    Image by Mudassar Iqbal from Pixabay

    Content Distribution

    Now you have a strategy, a written plan, and some fabulous content. The next task is to get it to your audience. This goes beyond simply uploading it and hoping for the best. You need to connect with the audience and get them engaged with it, which is the topic of Maureen Jann’s presentation.

    Know Your Customer’s Ecosystem

    Maureen Jann of NeoLuxe Marketing explored going beyond the relationship-based marketing approach to one where you consider the client’s ecosystem. What this means is that you not only consider the end-customer, but you must consider all of the influencers that are involved in the purchasing decision (especially in the B2B world). You must map out everyone in the decision-making process, such as managers, researchers, daily users of the product, CEOs, and the person who writes the check. This means taking into consideration the external challenges and barriers to distributing the content and getting the message across.

    Diversity Matters in Content

    Diversity is another component of market distribution that is becoming increasingly relevant. Stephanie Buscemi, CEO of Salesforce, points out that our consumers are a diverse bunch. She revealed that in a recent survey, nearly 52% of all consumers indicated that if they do not see themselves reflected in the brand, they will leave that brand for one that represents them. She noted that we all have unconscious biases and that the language we use can have a big impact on consumer perception of whether a brand speaks to them or not.

    Every piece that we produce must reflect a diverse audience. If you do not reflect the diversity of your audience, then you cannot consider your markets to be customer-centric. Sydni Craig-Hart, CEO and Co-founder of Smart Simple Marketing, says that you are either creating content that connects with customers, or you are creating barriers because the customer does not see themselves in the brand. Craig-Hart talked about diversity in connecting with your audience and how small actions can make a big difference.

    Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

    Small Actions Make a Difference

    Craig-Hart says that, as marketers, we must talk to our diverse customers and get to know them on a personal basis. She emphasizes the importance of spending time with your customers. She further points out that this should not be something that is done once a year or twice a year as you are planning your next six-month strategy, but it is something that should be an ongoing process. She challenges everyone to, within the next 30 days, talk to a customer who… 

    1. loves you and is always raving about you.
    2. is a new customer.
    3. is someone who quit using your product or service because you frustrated them.

    According to Craig-Hart, you only need to spend 10-15 minutes talking to these individuals, but this time will allow future marketing efforts to come from a place of empathy and better understanding. This small act can lead to big results. Getting to know your customers personally is the key to marketing in 2021 and beyond!

    Measurement

    If you are not tracking metrics, you are just throwing darts while blindfolded and hoping that you hit the target. The idea of putting out content to a general audience and hoping someone bites is old-school and outdated. Now, you have to know your customers more intimately than ever before, and this means tracking your content campaigns and digging deep into metrics. Even so, the application of metrics to project success is not what it used to be and how we use them has changed.

    The New No-Click World

    Katie Tweedy, Senior Content Marketing Manager at Collective Measures, talked about content measurement in a zero-click reality. She explores Google updates and what they mean for SEO and content marketing. Google’s updates are all about meeting searcher’s needs in the most efficient way possible. It is about delivering them the content that they want in the format that they want the content to be in, such as blog posts, podcasts, videos, or infographics. This means that the content you create also needs to meet Google’s needs, and ultimately, the needs of Google’s users.

    According to Tweedy, Google’s algorithm has become so good at giving searchers the exact information they want that they can not only take you to the best video with the answer to the query, but they can take you to the exact timestamp of that video that answers the question. Also, people now use voice search more often and do not always type in the results. The Google search page has made it no longer necessary to click on a link to get the answer. This makes it more engaging for the customer, but it also means that clicks are no longer as relevant to metrics and campaign success as a KPI as they were in the past.

    Tweedy discussed how quick answers are stealing clicks and organic traffic. This has SEO professionals concerned and for a good reason. In a recent survey, it was found that featured snippets have higher click-through rates than the overall site clicks. This means that organic traffic and conversion rates no longer tell the whole story.

    In some people’s minds, page rank has fallen by the wayside as a major search metric, especially because of location-based and personalized results. I personally still value page rank on SERPs. Semrush and Ahrefs are great tools that will help you see where you rank in comparison to your competition.

    At any rate, your results will be different from someone else’s top results based on past browsing behavior and your location. Impressions are more important than the click-through rate, especially since searchers can quickly get their answers from just looking at the search page. All of this has changed the way people engage with the content, but they are still clicking through. Tracking your featured snippets is important to understand what topics you own in that search landscape (use Semrush and Ahrefs to do this as well).

    The Pandemic and a New World in Content Marketing

    In a recent survey, it was found that 54% of consumers have purchased from a business for the very first time since the pandemic. This also means that many consumers stopped working with a particular brand or product. As moderator Chuck Hester points out, “Customers have a wandering eye.” The question is how to get them back.

    Image by cromaconceptovisual from Pixabay

    Jay Baer, founder of Convince & Convert, suggests that as customer priorities shift, you have the chance to use content to reengage the customer, but only if the content points your efforts out clearly. If your intentions are not clear, these efforts to win them back are not likely to succeed. He also mentions the tendency to shift back to “legacy brands” or “comfort brands” in times when people become uncertain. This is all part of a search for stability in an uncertain world. We tend to find comfort in the familiar, which can make launching a new brand challenging but certainly not impossible. Baer also points out the need to create “episodic” content to get people excited about coming back, rather than “one-off” content. I love that tip!

    Marketing Tweaks for Success

    Content Marketing World 2020 featured many fabulous speakers and thought leaders in the world of content marketing. The speakers had some excellent strategies for putting these strategies into action. Here are more key takeaways from the marketing conference:

    • If you do not have a written marketing plan, take the time to get it on paper for every product or service that you offer.
    • Include all content distribution platforms and possible channels in your marketing strategy. Do this before you go any further in your strategy.
    • Know all your buyer personas. And you must understand the different factors and people that influence their ecosystem.
    • Consider the diversity of your audience in every piece of content that you create. Be intentional about speaking to them to draw them in.
    • To know your target audience, dig deeper to be successful in today’s world. Go beyond metrics, and get to know them on a personal level.
    • Understand how the metrics have changed, and develop new strategies for using them. Consider how to use big changes and developments, such as featured snippets in search engines, to your advantage.
    • Make it a point to keep up with the latest trends and put what makes sense to you and your business into practice. Dedicate space on your calendar to do this task regularly. Always keep learning!

    More about Content Marketing World

    Content Marketing World 2020 was a content marketing conference that featured a collection of the world’s top voices on how to reach your audience in changing times. The theme of 2020’s conference was Break the Rules. I love this because experimenting with new marketing techniques is a great way to find new angles to engage your target audience and customers.

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      In Conclusion

      Customer preferences are always changing, and this means that your content strategy must change to keep up. Content strategies should not be seen as static, but they should be treated as a dynamic entity that grows and evolves to meet the needs of your customers. The best flow for any content marketing endeavor is to start with strategy, then on to content planning, followed by content production, content promotion or distribution, measurement, and end the process by making the necessary tweaks for success. I hope that my breakdown of notable Content Marketing World 2020 talks in that order was beneficial for you as your plan your marketing attack. And stay posted for our Content Marketing World 2021 updates!

      This article only scratched the surface of the depth of content and value provided at the Content Marketing World conference. The main takeaways from the conference are that it is no longer enough to just look at your analytics using a narrow viewpoint. Your content marketing plan must get to know every facet of your audience intimately. Lastly, the world of content marketing is a dynamic landscape that is constantly changing, and it requires a process of continual evaluation and adjustment to stay ahead of your competition. If you need any help with your content marketing, reach out to us at NeoLuxe Marketing and we’ll work together to create an awesome content marketing plan for your business.

      Chris Craft

      Follower of Jesus. Husband. Father. Founder of InspireFirst and Nao Media.