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Developing Your Content Marketing Plan

     -     Jul 23rd, 2018   -     Content Development   -     0 Comments

Most marketers understand the need for quality content in order to drive traffic, develop engagement and establish new leads through the company’s website. For years it’s a message that has been drilled into the collective heads of all marketers by Google and other sources. The challenge that most face is how to generate the needed content to attract Google’s attention while creating interest and demand for the firm’s expertise and services. While there are many strategies for accomplishing this objective, the starting point is the development of a content marketing plan. If you don’t have a plan for your efforts, it will be difficult to understand if you are making progress and where enhancements can be made. To help clients, prospects and others, I have outlined the broad steps that any accounting marketer can follow when developing a content marketing plan.

  • Goal Setting – It’s important to define the outcome of your efforts from the very beginning. Marketers need to clearly identify what they expect to happen when implementing a content marketing plan. The most obvious goal would seem to be an increase in the number of leads as well as new business opportunities generated through Search Engine Marketing. However, it’s important not to make that the goal because it can take some time before those results become apparent. Spend time thinking about interim goals that you can measure. For example, an “X%” increase in the amount of traffic to the website. An “X%” increase in the amount of conversions for a whitepaper or webinar the firm will produce. Remember that not everyone who interacts with your content will be ready to buy today. Therefore, develop goals that accommodate people in various aspects of the sales cycle. This will ensure that you can measure the effectiveness of your program.
  • Buyer Personas – Both accountants and marketers have a basic understanding of who their buyers are and what motivates them. Depending on the size of the firm and number of industries served, there can be a few buyer personas to literally dozens. My suggestion is to start small and analyze several key categories of your buyers. The goal of this exercise is to identify essential facts about them including age, interests, key business challenges, as well as their immediate and long terms needs that the firm can help them solve and overcome. Remember, you will use this information when brainstorming content ideas and identifying which group a parcel of content will benefit. The more information you can identify about your buyers in this process, the more useful the information will be in the development of your content marketing plan.
  • Selecting Content Type – A key mistake that many firms make is they rely too heavily on written word. Since people consume content in diverse ways it’s essential to have a mix of content that can be used in the plan. For example, some firms we work with spend a lot of time and energy on hosting events and recording them for future marketing to target prospects. Others will rely more heavily on infographics and icons to convey a message or make a point. Keep in mind that it’s important to develop content that can easily be shared on social media as well as other online forums. Unfortunately, the written word is not always the best medium to do this. Consider using e-books, whitepapers, videos, podcasts, interviews, case studies and infographics as part of your content plan. I realize for some firms anything other than the written word can be a challenge but that’s ok! By planning to use other forms of content now, you can gently push your firm towards other methods over a period of time.
  • Make a Schedule – Presently this is an exercise that we are currently working on with a lot of firms. A plan without a schedule is not going to go very far. For this reason, it’s essential to have a schedule of deadlines for when content will be produced, reviewed and marketed. It’s important to carefully consider the natural sales cycle of the services targeted or industries served. Once you understand this information, identify where the content will be published and marketed. For example, if you create a blog post on the impact of tax reform on real estate companies, be sure to identify where you are going to post it and then how you will promote it. It’s important to be as detailed as possible to ensure others involved in the execution of the plan understand all the details.
  • Measurement – It’s important to measure results to identify areas of strengths and where changes may be needed. Many accounting marketers don’t understand how to use Google Analytics and other programs to get the “meaty” information needed to truly understand how campaigns and efforts are performing. Don’t get caught in the trap of thinking that Google Analytics is the only tool you should be using for analysis. Not only do we want to know how the content is performing on the website, we also want to know how it performs on the various social media platforms used. This will provide a 360-degree view of how the efforts are going and where changes can be made to enhance efforts.

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Developing a content marketing plan can be a challenging task. There are a lot of moving parts that need to be considered and depending on your firm the plan will likely be changed over time. Despite these challenges I encourage you not to give up. Once you have a solid plan in place it will be much easier to execute and begin getting the results you desire.

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