If you didn't already prepare one at the end of last year, now is the time to start drafting your content marketing plan for 2019.
If you're wondering where to begin and how to structure it, here's a set of questions you can ask that will help you generate the ideas you need to flesh out your plan. If you're unable to provide immediate answers to some of these, go out and do some research: Talk to coworkers, customers, and suppliers. Read articles and books. Listen to podcasts. And then start filling in the blanks.
1. Who are your primary audiences?
Everything you say in your content marketing plan, whether it's in written form or through video or audio, needs to address a very specific set of audiences. Who are they exactly? Can you define them beyond generic demographic categories like age, gender, and income? If you were to prioritize them, which three target audiences would you choose to focus on in your communications?
2. What do you want them to know you for?
There's so much noise out there, cutting through it all and getting noticed can be incredibly hard. That's why you need to be very specific about what you want to be known for among your priority audiences. More importantly, how will you set yourself apart from your competitors? What makes you different --and better-- than them?
This one may require additional research and soul-searching, but it's a crucial exercise you won't want to bypass.
3. What specific topics will you cover in your content plan?
This is where you unpack what you decided in response to the previous question, when you determined what you want to be known for. Brainstorm topics and even specific headlines that you will publish content on, list them out and then sort them into a few key categories. Then sort them again into a month-by-month plan.
Maybe you'll decide to focus on one key theme per month or quarter. Or maybe you'll dip in and out of your pipeline and publish content on several different topics in a given month.
4. How will you distribute your content across different formats: Blogs, video, podcasts, email?
There are many possible formats to publish content in, but prioritizing and selecting one or two primary formats will help focus your resources and energy. Even the most prolific content creators who seem to appear everywhere usually pick two or three formats where they focus their most resources. They might repurpose content for other formats, but it's clear that they've selected video, for instance, or blog articles on Medium or LinkedIn, where they roll out their newest and best stuff, and engage most with their followers.
5. Which social media channels will you prioritize and what's your plan for distributing content through them?
The social media landscape can seem overwhelming. It's easy to underestimate the time and resources required to build a large and highly engaged following on any of them. That's why you'll need to prioritize and select the one or two channels to double down on. That might be Facebook or Instagram. Or it could be LinkedIn.
6. Who will be responsible for developing, publishing, and distributing content?
Having an ambitious content marketing plan in hand is not enough: Who exactly will be responsible for developing, editing, publishing, and distributing the content you produce? If your in-house team is limited in resources, or you're working on your own, you'll want to consider tapping into freelance resources that can give you the leverage you need.
7. How will you monitor engagement and measure impact?
How will you know whether your content marketing is working? What metrics will you track and measure? What applications can deliver the data and analysis you need?
You may have other questions you'll want to ask as you develop your content marketing plan, but if you start with these seven questions, you should be well on your way to crafting a plan that works for you in 2019.