If you’re in the SEO and web marketing business, you’ve read all the articles preaching content marketing as the new horizon. They almost always say, “Content is king. Create great content and promote it to the best audience.” The problem is that few of these articles really dive into the practical phases of execution.
After several years of learning as I go, perhaps the lessons I’ve learned can help save you the hassle and anxiety that goes along with trial and error. Here are the steps I’ve learned to live by:
Step 1: Brainstorm (and Write it Down!)
Step one of content marketing and campaign success consists of getting a group of creative people together to brainstorm. Share all of your ideas – good, bad, crazy – and write them all down! Without documentation, you will miss out on developing an idea that may have been exactly what you needed. Trust me. Creativity is important. Do not be afraid of it! Some of the best ideas are refined from the most outrageous.
I have also found that great concepts are developed from using other work as inspiration. Find successful campaigns in various verticals and use what you like, making it your own. Once you have a few ideas you are confident with, you can go on to perform a good-old-fashioned SWOT analysis for each idea to decide which is best. Map out all the possible Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Then, be open to honest constructive feedback and get an outside opinion before you settle on the perfect project. One of the best assets we have here at Terakeet is the ability to collaborate company wide. Many of us work on client accounts in different verticals, which helps us look at ideas from several different angles and get varying opinions.
Step 2: Set SMART Goals
It is always a good idea to set your goals early on, and make them SMART. Are they Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time Bound? Setting sensible, detailed goals will help you keep focused and organize your project. By having specific goals in mind, you are more easily able to plan each task needed to achieve them.
For example, the Halloween post you wrote was put together to increase traffic to your client’s blog. But by how much? How much of an increase compared to other posts is realistic? By when? Make the goal SMART. The Halloween post will receive X number of unique visitors by October 31.
Don’t skip over that very important “M” word, either. Think ahead about how you are going to measure your success! Set up analytics and research tools you can use, and decide exactly what factors will help you figure out the ROI. (I personally recommend mention.net for any social media related initiatives.)
Step 3: Make a Calendar
You’ve got your idea down. You’ve set some aggressive but attainable goals. Now comes the organization, and you don’t need a Type A personality to be successful.
Start by printing out a calendar and thinking about the big picture. What are the big milestones and responsibilities, and when do they need to be done? Schedule these out first.
Next, it is very important to zoom in. Zoom way in. Write out all the tasks and details needed to achieve the major milestones. Yes, I mean every single one. When you have a list ready you can overlap it with the calendar you started. This method makes it easy to keep track of each task in order to successfully reach your deadlines. Break the tasks out by week, and put the initials of the person responsible next to each one. This allows you to have a map of the big picture with the ability to laser focus weekly on exactly what tangible things can be knocked off the list. In my opinion, this is the most important key to success.
Step 4: Learn From Your Mistakes
Taking your time to do a post-campaign analysis helps tremendously for future projects. So often, people skip this step or put little effort into figuring out exactly what went wrong. Even worse, they miss what went well but could still be improved. I also always try to create a list of the unforeseen issues that were missed in the original SWOT analysis. There is always room for improvement. Take the time to learn!
To sum it all up, think outside of the box, document everything you can, and get used to relying heavily on the calendar. Be SMART when setting goals, and honest with yourself while analyzing how well you achieved them. Take it one step at a time, and you’ll be well on your way to content marketing success.