By Jodi Harris published March 10, 2015

[Workbook] A Step-by-Step Guide to Get Your Content Marketing Program Off the Ground

Launch-your-content-marketing-program

Does either of these statements describe your organization?

          A. Content is everyone’s responsibility – but it’s no one’s job.

          B. Content marketing is treated as a project, not a process integrated into every function of the organization.

If you picked A or B, keep reading – help is on the way.

In reality, content marketing should be a component of your existing marketing strategy, not a separate entity. It requires the involvement of leaders who can set goals, make decisions, and be accountable for successes (and failures).

One of CMI’s goals is to help organizations transform their marketing operations – from a subservient function that merely describes the value of a product or service into an enterprise-wide presence that capitalizes on the benefits of content-based engagement.

But, to do this, you need to move beyond viewing content marketing as an on-demand service to support sales and start thinking of content marketing in terms of how it can truly impact the business.

To help you in this transformation, we created a new workbook, Launch Your Own Content Marketing Program. In it, we take you through a series of easy-to-complete, practical exercises that will help you establish content marketing as a logical extension of your brand’s core values and build the foundation for a distinctive, engaging, and scalable content marketing program.

When you complete this workbook, you will have:

  • A better understanding of your unique content opportunities
  • A content marketing mission statement
  • Distinct goals around which to focus your content
  • Content ideas that support the needs of your target personas
  • Publishing guidelines
  • A basic channel (distribution) plan
  • A story angle for your business with emotional impact
  • An understanding of the next steps to bring together all the pieces

Here’s a glimpse of what you will accomplish with the workbook:

Build the foundation for your content plan

First, you need to discover the purpose that will drive your strategy – the business reasons for creating content. One easy starting point is your business’ sales funnel. Identify the level where your team struggles the most to reach its goals.

Some questions to ask:

  • Does your brand need to gain awareness in the marketplace?
  • Is it difficult to distinguish your business from your competition?
  • Do you get lots of leads but have trouble closing the deal?

Use the newly identified pain point to inform the creation of your content marketing mission – a statement that outlines your company’s reason for creating content, including the values, priorities, and perspectives the content will uphold.

MasterClass_Workbook_Chart_1

Your content marketing mission can be a road map to help identify unique stories that your business is ideally suited to tell – and to make sure those story ideas align with the business’ goals. As you build your content marketing mission statement, consider the following elements:

  • Core audience target: What type of person can you help most with your content?
  • Content product: What will be delivered to the audience? What types of information will you provide?
  • Desired outcome: What benefits will members of your audience realize once they consume your content?

For an example of how this might come together, take a look at Content Marketing Institute’s mission statement:

Content Marketing Institute leads the industry in advancing the practice of content marketing for enterprise marketing professionals. We educate our audience through real-world and how-to advice through in-person events, online training, a print magazine, daily blog posts, and original research.

Keep in mind that not every consideration needs to be explicitly stated in your mission. The CMI mission outlines our target audience (enterprise marketing professionals) and the content products we provide (live events, blog posts, research, etc.). It does not mention the desired outcome for our audience. However, our primary goal – advancing the conversation around content marketing – is implied by the education and insight we offer through our content.

Uncover your unique brand story

Another exercise in the workbook gets you started in building a platform for content that forges an emotional connection with your audience.

The “5 Whys” exercise (example below) can help you transform a generic content idea into customized ideas for stories that your business is uniquely suited to tell and that will benefit your audience. Here’s the basic process:

  • Start with a topic you want to discuss or perhaps one your competitions uses.
  • Ask yourself why this topic might be important to your target audience. Write down your answer.
  • Take that answer and ask why it matters to your audience.
  • Repeat this evolutionary process until you have asked and answered why five times.

For example, let’s say your company provides modular data centers, and your target audience is chief information officers (CIOs). The process would work like this:

  1. Why is our product important to CIOs?

Because our modularized data centers are less expensive and more agile than traditional data centers.

  1. Why is it important for CIOs to have less expensive and more agile data centers?

Because business computing needs are rising exponentially, yet CIOs still need to manage their costs.

  1. Why is it important for CIOs to know about ways to manage costs while increasing their computing power?

Because if they stay current with these trends, then they can expand the business more quickly and gain a competitive advantage.

  1. Why is it important for CIOs to understand how future trends can give their business a competitive advantage?

Because if they aren’t able to stay ahead of the curve, their company may go out of business or they may be out of a job.

  1. Why is it important to CIOs to stay ahead of the curve, to keep their business open, and keep their job?

Because their livelihoods depend on having this knowledge.

By putting together all of these questions and answers, you start to see a story angle emerge that has a lot more appeal and emotional impact than the original topic of why our product is important:

We believe in the office of the CIO, but things are changing fast.

For CIOs to stay competitive and stay in business, they must stay ahead of the curve. They can do this by capitalizing on future trends that will help them expand their business and create a competitive advantage.

Specifically, business-computing needs are rising exponentially, and CIOs must keep up with ways to do things faster, and less expensively. Modularized, containerized data centers – and the trends and best practices in deploying themrepresent a powerful means of helping CIOs gain efficiencies that can give them an edge over their competition.

Don’t waste another minute

With better-detailed content marketing programs, content marketers are increasingly recognizing that they need to lean in, step up, and function as a strategic partner that can help their business predict and adapt to new disruptions.

These two exercises only scratch the surface of what’s possible to achieve with the workbook. Don’t let a lack of confidence in your content marketing capabilities hold you back from achieving success. Take a giant leap for brand-kind, and download the complete workbook, Launch Your Own Content Marketing Program.

Does your team need to tackle a content marketing initiative, but lack the internal expertise to make it happen? CMI can help. Our Online Training & Certification Program provides you with must-know strategies, tactics, and best practices you can use to build a strong foundation for your projects. Learn more.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Author: Jodi Harris

Jodi Harris is the Director of Editorial Content & Curation at Content Marketing Institute. As an experienced content management consultant, Jodi focuses on helping businesses analyze their content needs and resources; build infrastructure and operations; and create and distribute relevant, engaging brand messages across multiple media channels and platforms. Jodi has developed and managed print and digital content projects for marketing, entertainment, automotive, health care, and biotech publishers, as well as for entertainment industry and media brands. Follow Jodi on Twitter at @Joderama.

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  • Scott

    Great info for beginners! Thank you!

  • Claudio Gormaz

    Whether a beginning writer or a grizzled old vet, we must never lose sight of basics. Excellent article!

  • Jeff

    Thank you for this. You always seem to make a clear, articulate and compellng case. cheers Jeff

  • http://www.seoexpertadvice.blogspot.com/ Rahul

    Content marketing is in the trend for now. And I think every organization adopting it to improve the traffic level of website and ROI. Because it is the safest approach to do, experts always prefer it compare to other activities.

  • rogercparker

    Jodi: This workbook raises the bar for workbook readability and ease of use–even for Content Marketing institute publication! It prints beautifully, and there’s enough room to fill out the forms by hand. No there’s no reason not to have a documented content strategy!

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