30 Jul Write a Content Marketing Plan That Works for Your Small Business
As a content marketer, I’ve collaborated with small businesses across a wide range of industries. Though their audiences were different, their goal was the same: to create a content marketing plan they could actually follow through on whether they had a dedicated content creator, department, or agency or not.
Building a plan for your content marketing requires much more than having a clear purpose, setting defined goals, and targeting the right group of people at the right time. Without thoroughly understanding the value your company delivers to consumers and how it compares to what your competitors provide, you cannot write a successful content marketing plan.
Step One: Review your current content and keywords.
If you are not already implementing basic on-page search engine optimization (SEO) on your website, consider beginning now. For most small businesses, improving SEO on core pages of your website (i.e. your primary product or service pages) will allow you to increase your organic search without incurring the cost of pay-per-click methods.
Even if you choose to hold the brakes on SEO, I recommend going through the initial steps of the process. Namely, researching keywords with the highest search volume that are also most relevant to your business. SEMRush and iSpionage are robust, paid tools to utilize for keyword research, while ahrefs.com and Ubersuggest are worthy free options.
Once you select an online tool, put your site as well as a 3 to 4 of your competitors’ URLs into the search bar. List out the keywords they target with high search volumes – building a list as you go. Later, you will use the keywords on your list to generate subject matter ideas for your content marketing plan.
Step Two: Sketch a topic web.
Choosing a few topic buckets is the next logical step to formulating a hassle-free content marketing plan. I’m no artist, so the topic web exercise is an easy, bare bones template.
You will take your core keyword and write it inside of a circle. From there, draw stick lines – about 4 to 6 – out from the starting circle. Based on the results of your competitor analysis, you should have some remaining keywords that a significant amount of people are researching, but you are not currently targeting.
This is a sign that you have a content gap to fill. And your content marketing plan is the perfect way to fill it. List a couple of the keywords in the circles on the perimeter of your topic web.
Finally, use a resource like Answer The Public to discover even more content ideas straight from Google and Bing themselves. Write the topics you uncover through this last search in your leftover circles.
Step Three: Build a content library.
For each bucket of subject matter in your topic web, list a few influencers you could interview to add credibility and diversity to your content marketing. Begin brainstorming subtopics to cover within each bucket. Think about how you can incorporate your influencers in engaging and effective ways as you brainstorm ideas.
When building your content library, envision how you can create a single piece of content in different formats like…
- Audio Bites/Podcasts
- Case Studies
- Landing Pages
Lastly, establish a strategy for distributing your content through a variety of platforms:
- Facebook Ads
- Your website
- Social media platforms (LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.)
- And more.
Step Four: Structure an information funnel.
Once you have a content library substantial enough to satisfy needs of your audience members no matter what stage they are at, structure out funnels in accordance with the buyer’s journey.
Consider where a lead for your small business is when they first become aware of your company and the products or services it offers. They are operating from a strictly emotional standpoint, so your content at that stage should be entertaining. Content in the awareness stage should appeal to the way the problems your offerings solve make your consumer feel.
In the consideration stage, you’ll want to highlight benefits and features and how each impacts your readers/viewers. Then, in the decision stage, content should forecast the future with your product in a highly specific manner – getting into the granular aspects of your product or service.
As you can see, making a content marketing plan is more than goal setting and purpose stating. It consists of taking real, actionable steps informed by research and knowledge of audience behavior.