By Joe Pulizzi published January 12, 2012

Setting Content Marketing Guidelines: 5 Templates to Drive the Process

Content Marketing GuidelinesWhen you develop a process for your content marketing, you want to do it in a way that ensures creative, out-of-the-box thinking in the most “human” way possible. Just as we don’t want to let chaos rule the day — so too do we want to avoid the robot legalese that disengages our subscribers.

In our new book, Managing Content Marketing with Robert Rose, we talk a bit about The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.  The Daily Show is one of the best written television shows on the air. It’s amazing how almost every single day, despite how quickly the news moves, they manage to stay relevant, focused, and, most of all, hysterically funny.

Stewart appeared on Terry Gross’ NPR show Fresh Air for a 45-minute interview where he discussed the operations of The Daily Show. Gross was asking him about the grind at The Daily Show, and how they managed the creative process. Stewart responded by saying how surprised he thought the audience would be by how regimented it all is. He said:

“I’m a real believer that creativity comes from limits, not freedom. [With] freedom, I think you don’t know what to do with yourself. But when you have a structure, then you can improvise off it and feel confident enough to kind of come back to that.”

Process and Constraint Drive Creativity

That’s an incredibly important lesson to us as content marketers as we develop guidelines and processes for our content and online conversations. If we set up our processes — our content marketing editorial workflow — with a strong emphasis on governance, we can then improvise off of that governance. In short, we have rules so that we know when we’re breaking them.

Here are five templates to consider to help you reign in the creative process.

  1. Editorial Calendar Template – Here’s the old-fashioned content marketing calendar template, or you can check out some other calendaring tools like DivvyHQ, Contently or even a project management tool like Central Desktop [disclaimer: Contently is a CMI Benefactor and Central Desktop is funded by Openview Venture Partners, where I am a senior advisor].
  2. Social Media Conversation Calendar – Set the who and why, when and where for your social media governance.
  3. Web Page Structure Template – A critical document for figuring out the right (and wrong) calls to action for your web pages.
  4. Buyer Persona Template – Do you really know who your customers are and if you are developing the right content for them?
  5. Content Mapping Tool – For figuring out where and when we need to plugin content into our content marketing process.

It’s odd…the most creative and the most original content I see coming out of publishing or marketing organizations are the ones with the most rules.  It’s almost impossible to develop truly great content for your customers without defining the structure first.  I hope some of these tools help you get there.

Other helpful articles on this topic

Image courtesy of Shutterstock (violetkaipa)

Author: Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi is the Founder of Content Marketing Institute, a UBM company, the leading education and training organization for content marketing, which includes the largest in-person content marketing event in the world, Content Marketing World. Joe is the winner of the 2014 John Caldwell Lifetime Achievement Award from the Content Council. Joe’s the author of five books, including his latest, Killing Marketing. His third book, Epic Content Marketing was named one of “Five Must Read Business Books of 2013” by Fortune Magazine. If you ever see Joe in person, he’ll be wearing orange. Follow him on Twitter @JoePulizzi.

Other posts by Joe Pulizzi

Join Over 200,000 of your Peers!

Get daily articles and news delivered to your email inbox and get CMI’s exclusive e-book Get Inspired: 40 Examples That Are Driving Content Marketing Forward FREE!