I’m sure you have noticed that content marketing has become a hot topic.  B2B marketing has evolved significantly over the past couple decades and it has advanced to the point where the focus is back on what you say rather than how or where you say it.

This places pressure on each marketing organization to up its game with regard to content.  To do this, you’ll need a plan.  Follow these easy steps and use a tool like the simple matrix presented below to detail the needs and execute and you will be well on your way to mastering the art of content marketing.

Content marketing matrix

  1. Define and segment your audience.  I know it seems really simple, but in order to create useful content, you first have to understand who will be reading it.  What is it that the audience wants to learn at each stage of the sales cycle?  You may have more than one audience description, because you may have more than one type of audience.  For example, some products will have a technical audience and also a non-technical audience.  These two groups will need different content at each stage of the process.
  2. Map content requirements throughout the sales cycle.  Start by breaking your sales cycle into its logical grouping.  Longer sales cycles will have more steps.  This doesn’t have to be complex, you just want to break down the sales process in order to understand what types of content are needed at each stage, to which audience segment.  The slide above illustrates an example matrix of content needs.
  3. Inventory the content assets you already have.  Chances are, much of the content you already have works well in a content marketing world, sometimes with some small modifications.  You’ll likely want to tone down the sales aspect of some content and cut others into smaller chunks.  Odds are that you’ll find that you have some of the content you need and you can quickly adapt it to the needs of a content marketing world.
  4. Identify gaps in content.  After you have mapped the needs and taken a look at what you already have, you can easily identify the gaps and thus, what you will need to produce to be fully functional in content marketing.  You’ll also want to weight the stages based on how long prospect customers stay in them.  You need a lot of content to nurture a prospect for 9 months, if that is the sales cycle.
  5. Fill current content gaps. Once you’ve identified the gaps, you’ll need to make sure all the bases are covered in terms of having the right quality content for needs you’ve identified.  This will generate a one-time project to create the missing content.  Basic content marketing rules apply here; tone down or remove overt product sales, keep content in a consistent voice, define and follow length guidelines, break big topics into smaller ones, etc.
  6. Create ongoing content plan.  Go to your audience and understand what they need and want to know on an ongoing basis.   Then, develop a plan to create ongoing content that is interesting, engaging and useful to that audience.   A plan would include topic lists and an editorial calendar.  You’ll want to always have some amount of current content in use and be adding new items to your content library.

Of course, the plan only details the real work of writing and disseminating the content.   You’ll make that aspect so much easier by following the steps outlined here and create a detailed content pan.

What level of content plan do you have?  Are you focused on “content marketing?”

You can connect with Eric on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/ericlundbohm/

Follow his updates on Twitter @lundbohm