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Creating Consistent Content – A Content Marketing Plan

The following is a guest post courtesy of Russell Sparkman from Fusionspark Media, a new media communications company based in Washington state. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Russell on a number of projects, most recently their amazingly successful New Media 2012 conference.

As you will learn from Russell’s post, he’s advocating a content marketing schedule that is quite ambitious, challenging for most companies. We believe this sort of thinking is not just nice to do, but necessary to the overall business and marketing strategy. Check it out and let me know what you think.

This is a story about story budgets. No, not the kind of budget that defines, in dollars and cents, what you’ll spend on a story.

This is about the traditional media use of the term “story budget” to describe the running tab of story ideas that make up a long-term publishing schedule.

If you’ve been following this blog, among others on similar topics, you’ve heard many times that content marketers need to think and act like publishers. One essential step in this process is to create and maintain an ongoing story budget.

An essential component of a story budget is the publishing schedule around which you plan, produce and publish content. If you are embarking upon Content Marketing strategies you will need to establish a publishing schedule that you can plan around, and adhere to, as much as possible. Planning your publishing schedule is easy as 1-7-30-4-2-1 (*see important message, at bottom).

This mnemonic device represents the frequency around which you should be publishing content to your web presence, and across social media sites, other sites, etc., as part of a strategic content marketing initiative. Let’s review these numbers one by one:

1 = Daily

“1″ is the loneliest number, according to a Three Dog Night song. In terms of content marketing strategy, it’s the busiest number. In this case, “1″ is an active number because it refers to the daily basis upon which you are engaged in publishing. Now, you may be sitting there thinking “how on earth can I publish on a daily basis?”

Here are a few tips of what you can easily publish on a daily basis:

  • Twitter updates that offer something of value to your constituents
  • News items you read elsewhere that are relevant to your core content; use Google Alerts to provide you with a steady stream of news relevant to your product, service or cause
  • RSS feeds into your site from other sites offering content relevant to your core product, service or cause.
  • User-generated Content (UGC) in your site, through your own site’s submission functions, or dynamically fed through sites such as Flickr. UGC also includes comments and ratings systems.

7 = Weekly

“7″ is a lucky number in the game of craps. But in terms of content marketing, “7″ refers to the weekly contributions you make in your content marketing strategy. Here are a few suggestions of weekly activities related to your content marketing strategy:

  • A new blog post
  • A photo gallery
  • A short video (one with simple production values, i.e. of someone giving a presentation)
  • Offline media buys, such as Radio, TV, Print
  • Participation in related forums, or discussion groups
  • Update of your product catalog
  • Update of your primary website’s pages and/or sections

30 = Monthly

“30″ is the age over which we didn’t trust anyone. Until, of course, a lot of us passed that age milestone. However, in terms of content marketing, “30″ represents what you can publish on a monthly basis.

As the length of the cycle increases, so do the potential production values of your monthly offering. A few ideas of what you can publish on a monthly basis include:

  • Write a new blog post based on extensive research, or an interview with a subject matter expert, etc.
  • Create and send an eNewsletter
  • Produce a short video (2 to 3 minutes, with increasingly greater production values, i.e. script, location shooting, multiple cameras, etc)
  • Produce a video of one of your executives speaking at a conference
  • Produce an audio Podcast
  • Create a PowerPoint presentation and share it via Slideshare
  • Organize and promote a “Tweetup,” or similar offline gathering
  • Make online/offline media buys, such as Radio, TV, Print, Google Adwords

4 = Quarterly

Taxes are often due quarterly. And so are important content assets of your content marketing strategy.

Look at your quarterly publishing cycle as an opportunity to reach for a bigger bang. Examples of what you can publish on a quarterly basis include:

  • Publish a research-based White Paper
  • Create an E-book series and distribute it in PDF format
  • Produce a video series
  • Create an animated infographic
  • Produce a special issue of your eNewsletter
  • Make an announcement of contest or sweepstakes winners

2 = Bi-annual

Twice a year, you should plan something big as a part of your content marketing strategy. If done correctly, a Bi-annual event would be something worth video-taping, so that you can use the video to fill weekly, monthly or quarterly needs. Examples of Bi-annual content include:

  • Produce an experiential event, and record the proceedings for later use in your weekly, monthly or quarterly cycles
  • Create a new print brochure & offer it for download in PDF format
  • Produce a webcast
  • Utilizing the content you’re producing (stories, photos, images), participate in a trade show or conference

1 = Annual

Birthdays and anniversaries come around once per year. These celebrations are a clue as to what you should think of in terms of producing content on an annual cycle. Your annual content marketing activities should be a celebration, an event, an announcement. Some suggestions include:

  • Produce an experiential event, and record the proceedings for later use in your weekly, monthly or quarterly cycles
  • Host an executive roundtable, and record the proceedings
  • Produce an annual industry White Paper, or eBook
  • Speak or present at an annual conference
  • Announce and launch a contest or a sweepstakes
  • Update your web presence with a new story feature, a new tool set or new functionality
  • Create and launch an iPhone app, a Facebook app

Produce a Game

Altogether, a 1-7-30-4-2-1 publishing schedule amounts to what is increasingly being referred to as multiplatform, or 360 platform, or transmedia storytelling experience. These are content marketing strategies where your content and your story are ubiquitous and you are engaging with your audience anywhere, any time and on any device.

* Important Note: A 1-7-30-4-2-1 publishing schedule is an ambitious undertaking that is well-worth the effort in terms of building awareness, building and engaging an audience, generating qualified leads, etc. However, it’s well understood by the author that there are considerable human bandwidth and financial factors to be considered in producing according to such a schedule. We’re working on it, ourselves. Suffice it to say that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your content marketing story budget. The emphasis here is on planning, and building out your story budget and publishing schedule over time. Starting today! So, get started!