You understand the importance of content marketing. We are creating more content and we are consuming it more carefully, so good content really matters. I scoured some great sites, looking for the best tips on content marketing and in particular, a content marketing plan template. I’ll take you through these articles and then share with you our template for creating a content marketing plan.

I found lots of great ideas about how to approach and create content and, some good individual element templates, that is, templates for building some of the pieces, but, not so much a template for building your content marketing plan.

The five articles:

Article 1

The first article I found is from the ubiquitous Hub Spot, they understand the use of content because they do it so well themselves. They’re recommending that we first sort out the goals, the missions and, the objectives of the content. Then you need to identify the target audience and the type of content best suited to this group. Hub Spot suggest that you brainstorm ideas and think about important marketing dates, that is, with the schedule that you put together, make sure that you work around key dates when people will be unavailable.

Article 2

Our next article is from the Content Marketing Institute, so we’re dealing with another real powerhouse in content marketing. They, like Hub Spot, are a great user of content marketing, but also a great teacher of this subject. They outline 17 essential content marketing templates and checklists. It isn’t in itself a template for building a content marketing plan, which is what I was looking for, but I still want to recommend that you consider it.

Article 3

Also from the Content Marketing Institute, a slightly newer article. It outlines 23 checklists and templates for content. The articles groups these checklists into interesting phase; thinking, planning, doing and improving. That’s a good logical line of thought. The problem is, it really doesn’t give us a great template for content marketing, so I actually found their older article a little more useful.

Article 4

The fourth one is from Jeffrey Kranz from Overthink. Now I wanted to like this, I really did, but I didn’t. I found it long winded. It took too long to get to the point and it’s something of a stream of consciousness, without having taken the time to try to reach a clear conclusion.

Article 5

This one I’m including because it was the most shared, 184 times on LinkedIn, which is a great effort. Now I’m perfectly happy to pay for content, but with so much amazing free stuff, like what we’ve just seen, why would I pay for content templates? In fairness, we don’t know what content leads up to this. Are there three or four quality pieces to which this is a logical end point? However, in this case it’s a published page and it was not at all persuasive.

What they said:

I’ll give you our template, but let me first distil what we’ve just learned into some basic lessons. Firstly, you need to consider the goals and objectives of the content and understand your buyer and what they want to consume. Using this information, brainstorm topics and media to create a roadmap of what you have selected. Then, build your content using proven templates and distribute this content well.

Design your content marketing plan to move buyers through the buying journey.

Design your content marketing plan to move buyers through the buying journey.

What I think:

Content has 2 specific roles; the first is to position you as somebody who can solve a problem and the second is to progress buyers. Content needs to move buyers. In an ideal world, if the content does its job really well, it’s going to move a buyer from one idea to the next in the buyer’s journey. However, if it fails at that, then it needs to at least position you as somebody who understands the problem.

It is important to centre your content around the problem and create content to progress the buyer. As such, we can use different content to:

  • Position to solve the problem.
  • Bring the problem to the surface.
  • Help them realise what they need.
  • Explain your solution to that problem.
  • Prove why your solution is better.

In order to select the right problem and the role that content will play at each stage in the buyer’s journey, you need a funnel plan. The funnel plan highlights the best problem to focus on, who most has that problem and therefore, who your content should be aimed at and how your content will be used at every stage in the buyer’s journey.

If you don’t already have a funnel plan, get a free one. Once you have a funnel plan, use it to shape the role that content needs to play at each stage in the buyer’s journey and, the pivotal piece of that will be to get your team to buy into the problem that you’ve chosen.