building blocks of marketing plans

A content plan is an invaluable tool. It keeps your team on track. It helps you be more strategic. It’s a great device for communicating with other teams in your organization. And having a plan can save you money.

Clearly, I love content plans. I want everyone to have one. (And I want to help everyone have one!) But it’s easy to want to skip ahead to your content plan — that creative work is fun, after all! — before you’re ready. And here’s what we know: Until the rest of your marketing strategy/plan is in place, you’re not ready for the content plan component.

Without a greater perspective on business and your marketing agenda as a whole, you are more likely to miss key opportunities with your content or overshoot your mark, setting your content plan up for failure. First, give some consideration to the key elements that your marketing plan should provide to help shape your content goals.


Your business goals

What are the organization’s revenue goals? Are you focusing on repeat customers or reaching new audiences? Content can be used to generate leads, to raise awareness or in your nurture campaigns. The types of content we would recommend for awareness raising versus lead generation are often different. Understanding the business objectives for the year will help determine at what point in the sales funnel you invest the most from a content perspective.


A solid understanding of your audience, communication vehicles and core messages

If you don’t have a marketing strategy in place, you are lacking details on the audiences you are trying to reach and the messages you want to communicate to them. For example, it is difficult to determine whether putting a lot of effort into YouTube videos is more worthwhile than creating one really well researched white paper if you don’t have a firm grasp on the needs and preferences of your audience.


A clear view of the big picture

Your marketing plan should include key items for the year — conferences you plan to attend, speak at or have a booth at; milestone anniversaries; key sponsorships; big initiatives. Knowing this type of information can affect the types of content you might need to produce in advance of events or launches.


Your budget

There’s nothing like a budget to bring your inner creative genius back to earth. Figuring out how much you have to spend and how best to allocate it so you can determine how much your content projects will receive is no one’s favorite part of this process, but it’s necessary. The good news is, it’s no longer a “print or broadcast?” world, so you have plenty of tactics to create an affordable, effective mix to reach your target audience with your content.

And the even better news? Now you’re ready to create your content plan.