It’s already December and if you haven’t started your 2015 marketing planning, the time to do so is now. The internet today is overflowing with “content” and companies are being sold on content marketing strategies that are going to rule the world. Digital marketers are correct in encouraging organizations to place content before product when it comes to building a brand and growing a loyal customer base. Nevertheless, the waters become a bit muddier when results from a big content piece are seemingly nominal.
In the mad rush to join the content marketing table in the cafeteria, many marketers forgot to pack some of the most important items in their lunch box. Sure, it’s cool to say you produced x number of white papers this past year. But it’s way cooler to brag about the traffic that those content pieces brought to your website. And, dare I say it, the ROI that they brought to your company. Having content was awesome in 2014, but a completely cluttered internet of 2015 needs more.
In the content marketing arena, there is truly no such thing as a free lunch. If you really want to pack the best lunches at the content marketing table this coming year, it’s time to plan up and pay up.
Content lives all over the place and while content distribution on social media and other types of syndication is essential and effective, there has to be more. The ability to distribute content without paying still must remain your top focus, but in 2015, we encourage you to pair this with paid distribution. The sad truth is that some of the best gems online are hidden. Facebook and LinkedIn showcase some incredible pieces of content, yet so much is left unseen. What’s the point of paying your content creation department if you’re not willing to pay for distribution as well?
That leads us to our next point, stop skimping your content marketers. Content is an investment, so invest in your writers and planners. In 2015, dish out a few more bucks to grab marketing’s best content creators and then support that with some paid content distribution. Looking at content in the form of commercials makes it easy to justify this point. Imagine the greatest commercial ever made (opinions on this topic vary). Now, imagine if the Apple’s, GoDaddy’s, Geico’s, and Coca-Cola’s of the world never leveraged this incredible content with media spend. Paying for eyeballs might make yours roll, but it’s entirely worth it.
Predictions about paid content distribution in the coming year all support coughing up a few extra dollars in the marketing budget to not only support the production and creation of content, but also to fund the distribution of this valuable material. Before you even start to plan your 2015 content marketing strategy, understand that it’s time to step up your content marketing budget. All the cool kids at that lunch table are doing it.
A content marketing strategy supported by adequate funding is great, making sure that this money is well spent is even better. If you haven’t outlined a specific strategy for 2015 yet, it’s okay, but the clock is ticking. Start with last year. Analyze everything. What worked? Tweak and repeat. What didn’t work? Discard completely. Then, move on with new ideas. A successful brainstorm means putting the pen to paper with real, actionable pieces of content that will appeal to your target audience.
Beyond idea creation, planning means creating an actual editorial calendar. I know, I know, it feels like no one actually makes these, but they really do. Editorial calendars are really less about planning and more about making strategic connections within your content plan. You will be amazed by how much is unearthed simply by writing down what content you plan to produce, when to release it to the public, and how it will all work together within the general scope of the marketing strategy.
Since “content” refers to so many different things, planning up means coordinating essentially every single marketing effort to achieve your overall goals. Understanding the resources that your organization has, what market space they are living in, and where the competition is going is critical. Once these things are determined, it’s time to move on to bring it back to the basics. What’s your message? How and where will this message be communicated? Where will all of this be measured?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a “right” content strategy. Every company out there requires a particular finesse that makes sense for them. Planning allows for these delicacies to be extracted and created appropriately to meet your company’s objectives. Finally, remember that content planning is never really finished. Make sure that your content strategy, whatever that may be, is a dynamic, living forecast. If done correctly, you’ll have plenty of awesome things in your lunch box to brag about.
Pay, Plan, Proceed
The beauty of internet marketing today is the ability to change. In an ideal situation, you pay for great content creators and great distribution, you plan accordingly, and then you reap all of the benefits. In reality, budgets get cut, plans go awry, and things get messy.
In 2015, be open to the dynamic nature of content marketing. Challenge the status quo. Try something crazy and out of the box. And most importantly, pack that content marketing lunch box with some great stuff. If you pay up and plan up now, you may just be sitting in the best spot at the content marketing table in the cafeteria next year.