We know that we ought to create new content this year. Unfortunately, many of us will start off strong only to end up floundering. Often we create plans that are either too complex, or we don’t really create a plan at all.
The fact is that content development is the cornerstone of effective marketing for the subject-matter expert. Most of us know that, we just struggle with finding time or losing focus somewhere along the way.
Creating an effective content development plan is a lot like crafting a simple set of goals – and like goals, your content development plan must be “S.M.A.R.T.”
Your content development plan should contain 5 essential elements:
1. It must be SPECIFIC
- Choose a specific theme for your content – be intentional. Create content with a common thread that runs through everything. Don’t write on a dozen disjointed topics. Narrow your focus to a handful of key topic you want to address. Hint: If you are creating content now, look at the categories on your blog. You shouldn’t have more than five or six at the most. If you have more than that, you’ve probably got some consolidating to do.
- Choose a specific audience to address. While you may have a couple of different target audiences based on what type of business you have, find the commonalities and speak to them. Make your content appeal to the largest segment of your specific audience as possible.
2. It must be MEASURABLE
- First, while you shouldn’t be obsessed with how many subscribers or followers you have, you should measure it. You want the trend to go “up and to the right”… In other words, the goal is to increase your number of subscribers / followers over time. Track these metrics, even if at first all you are doing is recording them monthly. Be sure you have Google Analytics installed on your website. Data will “pool” over time so that when you’re ready, you’ll be able to start drawing conclusions and mining it for insights.
- Second, when crafting your plan each action should be measurable. Don’t create items that can’t be measured or tracked. “Think about what to write this week” is not something you can measure… “Choose a topic for this week’s post” is something that can be measured (and checked off the list.)
3. It must be ACTIONABLE
Break down the process of creating each piece of content into manageable chunks. Outline a step-by-step process you can use over and over again to ensure that you can take action on each item. Then improve the process over time.
For example, creating and scheduling a simple weekly blog post might look something like this…
- Select a topic for this week’s post
- Gather notes and resources for this week’s post
- Write an outline of this week’s post
- Write rough draft of this week’s post
- Review rough draft and edit this week’s post
- Create a final draft of this week’s post
- Select a supporting image for this week’s post
- Publish or schedule this week’s post
- Schedule social media updates about this week’s post
4. It must be REALISTIC
- It should go without saying, but the content you create must be based on a subject you know something about. If you find yourself venturing into the unknown, you may want to refocus your efforts.
- Your plan must reflect your business and lifestyle goals. Content development takes time, effort, and focus. Consider your stage of life, available margin, and personal goals.
- Your plan should reflect your level of experience with content development. In other words, if you struggle to get a blog post out once a week – don’t create a plan that requires you to write one article and two blog posts every seven days. You’re just setting yourself up for failure. Start small and expand as you become comfortable with the process. It is better to add to a plan, than to set expectations with your readers and not deliver.
5. It must be TIME-BASED
Every aspect of your content development plan should be outlined, scheduled, and consistent.
- Your content plan should have scheduled ship (publish) dates that are set in stone – with the exception of extreme circumstances. That said, build in flexibility for yourself up front. Having one or two posts “in the can” is a great tactic should you be unable to get a post out in a given week.
- Once you start developing content – it must become an on-going, never ceasing component of your marketing and business development plan. You can’t just go on a hiatus for six weeks and expect your audience to still be there.
Creating (and committing to) an effective content development plan for your business can be a transformational marketing exercise. Subject-matter experts, authors, speakers, and even professional service firms should place this exercise at the top of their strategic “to-do” lists. Review and update it every 6-12 months to ensure you are consistently attracting new prospects and expanding the reach of your marketing platforms.