13 Step Content Marketing Plan

How To Create A Content Marketing Strategy That Stands Out From The Crowd

Stand out in a crowdContent marketing is white hot and doesn’t show signs of cooling any time soon. Regardless of whether your business is consumer-oriented (B2C), business-oriented (B2B), professional-oriented (solopreneur), charity-oriented (not-for-profit) or part of the government, you need content to attract prospects and persuade them to buy from your firm.

IDC Research estimates that content created and shared will reach just under four zettabytes (that’s four trillion gigabytes) by the end of 2013 and will double to eight zettabytes by 2015!


Digital content created -  Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers-1

To ensure your content marketing breaks through this ever-expanding amount of information, you need a plan to ensure that your information stands out from the crowd regardless of the amount of resources you have. Here’s an easy-to-follow, thirteen step plan to get your content marketing on track to succeed.

1] Determine the goals for your content marketing plan.

These objectives should be aligned with those of your business, product and/or brand. The most common options are to:

  1. Support your brand by extending the reach of branded content.
  2. Generate business leads, preferably qualified ones.
  3. Close sales by providing content customers seek.
  4. Keep more customers by giving them post-purchase support.

2] Know your content marketing audience.

Content doesn’t work unless it’s targeted. Otherwise it looks and sounds like any other piece of corporate communication.

  1. Think beyond the actual end user. Consider influencers, purchasers and other people involved in the buying process.
  2. Create a fully fleshed out marketing persona and social media persona for each segment of your target market.

3] Incorporate your brand into your content.

Give your content marketing a personality so that it’s associated with your brand.

  1. Use your brand’s colors. Consider whether your brand colors translate to readability. How do they present online?
  2. Select an easy-to-read typeface. Typography is an integral part of your brand. Make sure that your font can be presented well online.
  3. Associate sounds and/or audio with your content.  It can incorporate your audio logo or make special noises.
  4. Sound human including your language. This includes the type of words you use, foul language and accents.
  5. Include visual cues. This can be your logo or other brand mascot.

4] Determine information your audience seeks.

Remember that content marketing isn’t about you. It’s about your target audience and the information they seek.

  1. Provide product information. Give your prospects the details about your offering.
  2. Answer the questions your prospects, customers and the public have. This can be easy to accomplish by gathering input from your customer service and sales personnel.
  3. Show your audience how to use and style your products. Create educational content related to your offering. Show customers how to use your product in the context of other products.

5] Tell your firm’s once upon a time.

Skip spewing facts and figures since your market won’t remember them. Think stories. (Here are twenty-nine ideas.)

  1. Tell your firm’s history. Find the stories in your past whether it’s about your founders, your business or your location.
  2. Show your products background. This is important to persuade buyers to choose your product.
  3. Let your employees and customers contribute. Collect their stories in text, images and video.

6] Use different content formats.

Your audience varies in terms of how they consume information. This translates to the use of a variety of content formats.

  1. Utilize text. This is the most common content format.
  2. Add attention-getting photos. Show your products, employees and customers. Photos attract an audience.
  3. Put your products in movies. Think 360° views as well as story telling.
  4. Give your content a voice. Use audio.
  5. Show your information. Create presentations whether in real life, at conferences or just for Slideshare.

7] Build an editorial calendar.

Create an editorial calendar to plan your content creation on a regular basis.

  1. Decide on major content offerings. Integrate content into all of your major events.
  2. Establish recurring content features. Craft regular columns.
  3. Plan for content reuse. Create multiple pieces of content from each major effort.
  4. Leverage the power of content curation. Incorporate your insights on select content from other sources.
  5. Encourage co-creation. Get your employees and customers involved.

8] Make your content attractive to prospective readers.

Useful content, while necessary, isn’t sufficient to convert prospects into customers.

  1. Eliminate poor grammar and bad spelling.  It hurts your authority.
  2. Use headlines that attract attention. Understand that only one out of five prospects will read further than your title. Spend time editing your titles.
  3. Add eye candy. Include catchy images that attract people.
  4. Chop your information into easy-to-consume chunks. Long pages of uninterrupted text appear difficult to read.
  5. Employ design elements to guide readers into your content. Think in terms of outlining and bolding to help make your content more accessible.

9] Make your content findable.

You can have the best content in the world but it’s wasted if no one can find it.

  1. Incorporate the words your audience uses. Create a list of ten to twenty keywords around which to focus your content.
  2. Include links to both internal and external content. Your content doesn’t exist by itself. It’s part of a larger information ecosystem.
  3. Optimize every piece of your content. Associate descriptive text and keywords with non-text items.

10] Allocate sufficient resources.

Content marketing doesn’t appear out of thin air.  It requires both budget and employees.

  1. Redistribute budget from other areas. Consider where you can transfer extra resources such as your advertising, customer communications, product information and other content related areas.
  2. Dedicate employees or outside resources to your content marketing. Remember if content marketing isn’t part of their job, it probably won’t get done.

11] Distribute content.

Ensure that your content reaches it’s target audience.

  1. Place content on owned media. This includes your website, emailings and blog.
  2. Leverage third party media. Consider guest posts and articles. Also, present at conferences.
  3. Include social media. Use a variety of different social media platforms. As well as social sharing where appropriate.

12] Promote content.

You can’t assume that distributing your content by itself is sufficient.

  1. Support your content distribution with advertising where appropriate. Think in terms of social media and paid search.
  2. Cross-promote your content on other owned media. Don’t underestimate the power of your retail establishment and other advertising.

13] Measure content marketing results.

You must track your content marketing to ensure that it yields sales and profits.

  1. Include a contextually relevant call-to-action.
  2. Track the appropriate metrics. These metrics should flow from your content marketing objectives. Here’s a list of fifty-three content marketing metrics.


You need a content marketing plan that’s integrated with your business objectives to ensure that it yields results.

How have you incorporated a content marketing strategy into your overall marketing plans?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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13 Responses to 13 Step Content Marketing Plan

  1. Real Money says:

    This is very useful. Thanks for creating it and sharing with us. Alan

  2. Sophie Tran says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this!

  3. Thank you, Heidi! This is a great guideline for content marketing strategy. As a piggy-back to your post, I thought I would include a link to a content strategy template I recently published. In my opinion, the combination of your planning guide and my excel template is pretty perfect! http://www.andreatuttle.com/components-inbound-marketing-strategy-template/

  4. Nursee Nline says:

    i want also my website on google top by

    Content Marketing Strategy

  5. Heidi, I really zoomed in on your #6 and #7 on the list; use different content formats and have a calendar for publishing that content. Seems like a simple concept but when it’s put into practice, the marketing/engagement results are really boosted.

    • Scott, I can attest to that as well. I post my blogs to Google+ initially, then pin them onto Pinterest, and a few days later will repurpose the initial G+ post as a photo with links to the article and the pin. The photo gets the engagement on the social network, but all the SEO groundwork was laid down first. And as easy as that sounds, it’s imperative to get all the nuances correct so all the social traffic ultimately goes back to my site. And that’s just one type of post

    • That’s a great micro process you have going, @stephanhov:disqus . And, as you said, the application is to “just one type of post.” That certainly gives good reason for us to apply it across the board.

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  7. Great points Heidi. One thing I like to do when planning out my editorial calendar is to look at the historical trends from the search engines. That way I can release information with enough time to try and get the maximum benefit for search and social.

  8. Fantastic article, Heidi. I’m amazed at how well you worded each bullet point, in that if I read through all of them then go back to let each one sink in, it’s like a gigantic gateway to success opens up. Thanks for this!

  9. Sarah Jocson says:

    I like content marketing, this is somehow a way to prove your products or knowledge about your services is on the right track. But I dont like people sharing too much or promoting too much about their services. I love contents that you can actually relate to and share ideas about different marketing strategies.

  10. Christine says:

    Thanks so much for this post, Heidi! Lots of useful info here!

  11. Mayur More says:

    Thanks Heidi, Good detailed helpful post. Some of the points are really new for me, will think about this in my future content strategy plan.