Editor’s note: You may have missed this article when CMI published it a couple years ago. We’re sharing it now because we know how pressed for time you are and how much a documented strategy can help.
As CMI research shows, marketers with a documented content marketing strategy are more effective than those who lack a written strategy. Yet, only 40% of B2C and 37% of B2B marketers have written down a plan.
If you lack a written strategy, a one-page plan is a great place to begin. If you have a detailed strategy but struggle to gain traction, boiling it down to one page will make it easier. A one-page strategy can help you:
- Crystalize your content marketing strategy
- Gain stronger buy-in more quickly from executives or clients
- Keep content producers strategically aligned
To create a content marketing strategy in one page, first focus on what the organization needs to accomplish in the next year.
How to find this information depends on your company. You can engage C-level executives, read the company’s internal and external documents (including the overall marketing plan), or use another research avenue to identify:
- Company’s growth strategy
- Revenue growth targets (as a percent or dollar figure over last year)
- Profit targets (as a percent or monetary amount per share over last year)
- How growth will be achieved (e.g., new product launch, add-on sales to existing customers, new markets, acquisition, new customers, increase in market share)
- Other factors or criteria important to the organization’s growth
Considering how crucial these inputs are to marketing, it’s surprising that marketing managers are often unaware of the precise business objectives.
These business-level elements will appear in your plan as:
- Objectives: What qualitative results must the company accomplish over the next year?
- Goals: How will progress toward objectives be measured quantitatively?
Next, work with mid-level marketing, sales, and product leaders to sketch a content marketing plan. How will content marketing help the company achieve its goals? You may find some ideas that content marketing can support, and others that it can’t. What content marketing can support will appear in your plan as:
- Strategies: What will the content marketing function deliver qualitatively during the next year? (e.g., introduce a new product, increase awareness, dramatize your solution’s differentiation, create a better customer experience, offer social proof)
- Metrics: How will marketing measure the achievement of content marketing strategies? (e.g., increase awareness by a certain percent, deliver specified number of marketing-qualified leads to sales, contribute a certain dollar amount to the sales pipeline from qualified leads, produce a certain amount of revenue)
Don’t shy away from revenue goals. It’s bracing to have quantified goals to meet, but quotas bring a clear finish line and value to all content marketing activities. Measure the sales pipeline, customers won, and revenue generated. These are the metrics executives really care about.
A Simple Approach to Document Your Content Marketing Strategy
Take it to the executives
Now that you have completed the first four parts of the plan, present the draft to the executives and middle managers. Walk through the plan step by step and discuss it immediately, face to face. Be open to questions and input. Be succinct. Be wise – narrow the scope of discussion to avoid misunderstandings or setbacks. The results of their input will help you sharpen the plan, but you still must keep it to one page.Use input from executives & middle managers to sharpen your #contentmarketing plan, says @riverwordguy. Click To Tweet
Through these exchanges, you’ll learn that that executives care most about the financial numbers. As one CEO put it, “When you come into my office, I see either a penny of expense or a penny of profit on your forehead.” They want to know:
- Content marketing costs
- Revenue planned to be generated and by what date
- Profit produced based on company or product margins
- Targeted return ROI for content marketing
Work toward a straightforward understanding with your executives – a simple and scalable marketing model. For instance, I reached this understanding with a CFO: For every $3 in revenue generated by marketing, the company would spend an additional dollar on marketing. The more revenue generated by marketing, the more budget it would have to spend.
Align content creators
I pin the agreed-upon one-page plan above my computer screen and encourage my team to do the same. Use the plan as a litmus test for ideas. Let it simplify decisions about which content goes forward.
As you well know, all your agencies, freelancers, reporters, writers, digital, and social experts need to work from the same content marketing strategy. When it’s only one page, they’re far likelier to use it day to day than they would a multi-page document or, heaven forbid, a dusty 3-inch binder.A 1 page #contentmarketing strategy will be used more than a multi-page document or dusty binder. @riverwordguy Click To Tweet
In addition to one-page strategies, content creators also need:
This content marketing strategy template fits on one side of standard printer paper. If you absolutely need more space, use legal-sized paper or even an 11- by 17-inch piece. The important thing is to keep it to a single page that can be easily shared to maximize its impact and usefulness with executives and content creators.
Content Marketing One-Page Plan
- Increase revenue from product X over the next 12 months
- Position this disruptive new product as a viable alternative to (competitor’s product)
- Increase revenue by X% to X% in 2017
- Build buyer awareness to XX%
- Become the best source of information on (customer problem or product category)
- Deliver useful information and thought-provoking insights
- Educate buyers on:
- How to address key technology and business challenges
- How to generate revenue, reduce expenses, and improve user experiences
- Increase website traffic +XX% year over year
- Convert XX% of website users (You may track soft conversions and/or hard conversions.)
- Add to the sales pipeline XXXX marketing-qualified leads per year, including $YY million in potential deals
- Generate revenue of $X million
Who we serve: Capsule version of buyer personas
What’s in it for buyers? Ideas to further buyers’ careers and their companies’ success
Topics: List topics where the company seeks to position its helpful content.
Serving sizes & frequencies
Time (to get message across) Words Media
7 seconds 23 Headline, tweet, sound bite, cartoon (daily)
2 minutes 400 Web page, blog, news release, video, infographic (2X/week)
5 minutes 1,000 Magazine article, contributed articles, long video (monthly)
20+ minutes 4,000+ White paper, application note, e-book, speech, webinar (quarterly)
Calls to action
Soft: Watch a video; read blog, magazine article, or white paper
Hard: Enter demand funnel – read a gated white paper, sign up for a webinar, qualify at a trade show or event
Adapt the template to suit your needs. Include the most relevant elements. Cover what you need to gain executive support and align content creators. But always keep in mind that it must fit on a single page or its purpose will be diminished.
Want more expert advice on how to make your content marketing strategy more effective? Subscribe to CMI’s free daily newsletter or weekly digest with an exclusive letter from founder Joe Pulizzi.
Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute