If you've ever had an in-depth conversation with a blogger or web marketing writer, you may have noticed something ironic about them. They tend to be experts at telling you what you need to do to develop a strong online presence but they don't necessarily use all the practices they prescribe. This is especially the case when it comes to formulating a stellar content marketing plan and sticking to it.
It is, in essence, Do as I say, not as I do.
That doesn't mean, however, that you shouldn't pay attention to what they say. You may even be able to take the knowledge they give you, develop an outstanding plan and then surpass their level of success if you stick to it.
When discussing your client's content strategy, follow these seven steps that can help them formulate their content marketing plan with the dedication and consistency that many online marketers lack:
1. Write down your long-term goals first.
Before you can ever take your first step, you need to have a pretty good idea of the destination. It really helps to take a full day or more simply to list all of the things you want to accomplish through your online presence. After you have that list, make a note of how quality content marketing will help you achieve each of the goals. This is important because it helps you better understand the what and why that are so vital to your content and it will help you stay motivated.
2. Identify milestones along the way.
You should try to come up with at least three milestones that you will surpass on the way to achieving each long-term goal. If you can't come up with three milestones, your goals may not be lofty enough. As Michelangelo said, "The problem with human beings is not that we aim too high and fail; it is that we aim too low and succeed."
3. Fill in the short-term goals that will help you reach each milestone.
This should basically read like a step-by-step plan. It will take you some time to complete this part of the planning but it will be well worth it. For example, you may have a milestone that reads something like, "Get 20,000 unique views this month." The short-term goal for one week would be something along the lines of, "Generate enough content to reach 5,000 unique views," rather than, "Write six blog entries."
4. Hold people accountable.
Start by holding yourself accountable because, if you have a team, you need to lead by example and they will be much more likely and willing to follow you. Then communicate the three steps above with them, explain their role in each phase, give them their responsibilities and then explain the repercussions for falling short. It is vital that you lay the plan out in this order and follow through with everything you say.
5. Vigilantly look for problems and weaknesses.
As you monitor the successes and failures, make notes of what worked and what didn't. Also, do your best to understand why you got certain results from each effort and categorize your findings. Then open your plan and yourself to constructive criticism. Your team and other experts may have different ideas which, when tested, may turn out to be more effective or efficient than yours. This doesn't mean you planned poorly, just that you didn't foresee everything from the beginning. And that's perfectly okay.
While you're identifying weaknesses in your plan, quantify the feedback and results you are achieving. For example, don't make a note that says, "My blog about 'online content' didn't do well," when you can say, "My blog with the keyword phrase 'online content' got 250 unique views while a similar blog with the keyword phrase 'web content marketing' received 6,000 unique views."
7. Constantly reevaluate your plan.
At least once a month, set aside time to assess where you are in relation to where you thought you would be. If goals are milestones seem too easy, make them bigger. If they seem overly ambitious, don't make them easier; instead, use the analyses you have been developing to change your short-term goals so you can get better results and reach the marks you originally set.
If your clients have the will power, dedication and patience to stick to a solid content marketing plan, they can be more successful than many marketing "gurus" and self-proclaimed experts out there.