Creating an effective content marketing plan to feed your sales pipeline by leveraging engaging content
As a business owner or startup founder, you know that creating a successful venture requires more than just a great product or service. You need to be able to effectively communicate with your target audience and build a strong brand that resonates with them. This is where a content plan comes into play.
What is a content plan?
A content plan is a roadmap that outlines what content you will create, where you will publish it, and how you will promote it. In this blog post, we will guide you through the steps to create a content plan for your startup.
1. Define your target audience
Before you start creating content, you need to understand who your target audience is.
Who are you trying to reach? What are their interests and pain points? What motivates them? Once you have a clear understanding of your target audience, you can tailor your content to their needs and preferences.
Shopify recently released a great article about six general Australian consumer profiles that can serve as a great starting point.
Previous work you’ve done to nail your niche and refine the Ideal Customer persona will prove valuable here, letting you quickly establish lookalike audiences and create messaging that speaks to core needs.
2. Establish your objectives
What do you hope to achieve with your content plan? Is it to increase brand awareness? Generate leads? Educate your audience about your product or service? Knowing your objectives will help you create content that is aligned with your business goals.
Before you try to convert your audience into customers, you need to provide something of value in your content, while also educating and creating awareness. Content needs to take a more passive approach at first, and not exist purely to fill a space.
This follows the natural customer journey pipeline from awareness, to consideration, to conversion. It’s important to be aware of how your pipeline works, and map your customer journey milestones, so that you know how to position a particular piece of content within this framework.
For each persona you create, you also need to identify where that person sits in the customer journey. When you begin narrowing into a selling focus, your content should still attempt to speak to the right audience, and provide them with some kind of value beyond basic sales information.
3. Determine your content topics
Once you know your target audience and objectives, you can start brainstorming content topics that will resonate with them.
Consider the questions and challenges that your audience faces, and create content that provides value and solutions.
Some examples of content topics for startups include how-to guides, case studies, customer testimonials, industry news and trends, and thought leadership pieces. Thought leadership is about both providing useful information that doesn’t necessarily lead to a sale, with the more passive aim of establishing your brand and/or business personalities as experts in the space.
You can use SEO/SEM strategy tools such as Google Trends, Google Keyword Planner and SEMRush to understand which topics are getting engagement and align your strategy.
4. Choose your communication channels
There are many communication channels available to startups, from social media platforms to email newsletters to blogs.
You need to choose the channels that are most relevant to your target audience and align with your business goals. You should also consider the type of content that works best on each channel.
For example, visual content like images and videos perform well on Instagram, while long-form articles are more suited for blogs. Facebook will take on a casual tone, while LinkedIn will require a more sophisticated, professional approach.
5. Create a content calendar
Once you have defined your content topics and communication channels, it’s time to create a content calendar.
A content calendar is a schedule that outlines when and where you will publish your content. It’s important to create a realistic and consistent publishing schedule that allows you to create high-quality content and keep your audience engaged.
You should also consider any important dates or events that are relevant to your business, such as product launches or industry conferences. Most content requirements that you can see coming should be planned as far in advance as possible, to allow bandwidth for more reactive content you may need to put out on the fly. Four to six weeks is a good timeframe to plan, outline and write your content.
6. Assign responsibilities
Creating and publishing content is a team effort. You need to assign responsibilities to your team members or freelancers, depending on your resources.
You should have a documented and understood process in place amongst the content team for reviewing and approving content. Make sure everyone knows what their role is and when they need to have content reviewed, approved, and deployed.
Think about the entire process including the marketing technology stack for publishing and sending emails to lists, as well as monitoring performance of each campaign.
7. Monitor and evaluate
You need to regularly monitor and evaluate the performance of your content plan. Use metrics such as engagement rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates to measure the effectiveness of your content.
You should also gather feedback from your audience and use it to improve your content strategy over time. This can come via surveys attached to emails, website comment forms, and social media. There are paid and free services which can collate this information for optimising future campaigns.
Creating a content plan for your startup takes time and effort, but it’s an essential part of building a successful business. By following these steps, you can create a content plan that helps you reach your target audience, build your brand, and achieve your business objectives.
Of course it doesn’t end there. Throughout the different phases of growth you will need to monitor, optimise, and refresh your content campaigns. Your business may pivot to a new market, launch new product classes, or just wish for a fresh start, which can all require huge rebranding and realignment of content behind the scenes.
The key is to always begin with your audience, and to understand where you’re trying to reach them. No matter what changes for your business, the strategy will flow naturally from that knowledge.