Advertising After The Digital Revolution
Twenty years ago, when we were all still thanking our lucky stars that things didn’t get messed up when the clock struck midnight on Y2K (#iykyk), the phrase “digital marketing” didn’t exist – and “content marketing” had even less meaning. Today, less than a generation later, however, content marketing has completely transformed an entire industry.
We’ve gone from the days when billboards, print ads, and radio and TV commercials were pretty much the only way anyone heard about a new product or business to a time when those things have fallen by the wayside – fast. In fact, young kids who have grown up in the age of YouTube don’t really know what a “commercial” is – everything is an “ad,” and they’re all skippable!
Today, advertising and marketing have been taken over by digital content – every major brand – from multi-national fast food chains to local car dealerships – has some form of digital marketing plan with a content marketing component.
But what is content marketing, and is it actually different than digital marketing…?
What Is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is a subset of digital marketing and is a huge part of the current digital landscape. You can’t have digital marketing without content marketing since content – in all of its various forms – is what ultimately powers most digital marketing strategies and initiatives. Even primarily, visual social media platforms – like TikTok and Instagram – are part of the content marketing subset since the images and videos used are content assets.
That said, digital marketing is the all-encompassing landscape in which content marketing thrives. Digital marketing essentially includes any marketing initiative undertaken on a digital platform – from the creation of websites and apps to social media and pay-per-click advertising.
What Is A Content Marketing Plan?
At its most basic, a content marketing plan is a carefully crafted and curated selection of content that tells the world who you are, what you do, and why you do it.
On a more in-depth level, we create content marketing to drive your target audience from the top stage of a sales funnel all the way through the various levels until they’re signing on the dotted line to work with you. In these cases, the developer of your content marketing plan looks at the entire funnel and sales cycle and determines who your target audience is and what they need to know at each stage of the game. If someone is at the very top of the funnel, they just need to know that your business exists and that you’re good at what you do. At the very bottom of the funnel, your content needs to provide the final compelling piece of information that reassures your audience that you are, in fact, the right choice for them.
And you’re doing all of this on various channels and platforms. Because content marketing isn’t just social media, your blog, or your email newsletters. It’s all of that and more. It’s your website copy and SEO. It’s your whitepapers and case studies. It’s landing pages, email sequences, abandoned cart emails, and even your email signature.
It’s how all of those things tie together at the various stages of a buyer’s journey to tell a compelling story, solve a problem, and ultimately make a sale.
When they say Content Is King – they mean it!
How To Formulate Your Content Marketing Plan
So now that you know what content marketing is and what a content marketing plan is … you’re probably wondering how you formulate your plan.
Many business owners, when they set out to do their marketing plan for the first time, they’re just “throwing things at the wall to see what sticks.” Most businesses will launch an Instagram profile and/or Facebook page. They’ll put up a website and maybe write a few blogs. They’ll also probably try to hold off on running ads for a while, determined to do it “organically.”
But without a plan of attack, that’s really, really difficult to do.
(And remember, if you aren’t spending money on ads, you’re spending time creating content – and time is money! Ads can help cut through the immense noise on the Internet and get your content seen by more people in less time. But we can talk about all that in another post!)
Content marketing needs a plan. You need to know who your target audience is, where they’re hanging out, and the type of content they’re searching for. You need to know how to get in front of them and what types of questions you need to be answering in order to do that.
Step 1: Define Your Objectives
The first thing you need to do is know what your objectives for your content marketing (and digital marketing as a whole) are. Are you trying to make sales or just create brand awareness? Are you trying to reach a fairly niche, local audience or do you want to take your business to the world stage?
Step 2: Define Your Audience
The next thing you need to know is who you’re talking to. You can write hundreds of thousands of words of content a day, but if you don’t know who you’re talking to or where they are, none of it is going to land in the right spot.
To determine who your audience is, take a look at the products or services you’re selling. What problems do they solve and who, specifically, do they solve these problems for?
Next, try to determine where that person “hangs out”. Are they Gen Z and glued to TikTok or a Boomer that’s living their best life on Facebook? Knowing which platforms are most popular with your target audience will help you determine what type of content to create. The TikTok crowd probably isn’t going to find your blog anytime soon, but if you can break it down in less than 3 minutes in video format, then you’ll be onto something!
Step 3: Determine Your KPIs
Before you get into the nitty gritty of really planning out your content, you need to know what Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are so that you can adjust as you go and you aren’t always chasing a moving target. For example, if your KPI is to increase your Instagram followers by 10% and increase website referral traffic by 5% then you’ll have some way to measure whether your content is successful or not. If you can see that it is, you can keep doing more of the same – and if you aren’t hitting your KPIs, you’ll be able to adjust accordingly.
Step 4: Plan Your Strategy
Now that you know what you’re trying to do, who you’re talking to, where they are, and what you’re going to consider a success or failure, you can start to actually plan out your strategy!
First up, you’ll need to determine what your content themes are going to be. Some common ones that we like to use are things like:
- Brand News
- Product Promotions
- Moments In Time/Holidays
- Information/Tips and Tricks
- User Generated Content
- Motivational/Inspirational Quotes
Some of these may or may not work for your brand, but you can develop as many – or as few – content themes as will accurately suit your business.
Next, you’ll want to list your product categories – or at least all of the categories you plan to include in your marketing.
When creating your content, you can rotate through the content themes and your product categories to ensure that you’re creating a good mix of content that covers all of the important topics without being too repetitive. You’ll also want to keep an eye on current content trends and stay agile enough to incorporate any relevant to your brand and your audience into your plan.
A word of caution about trends: for the most part, no one will remember if your brand didn’t participate in a trend, but if you do participate and you bungle it, then you might be inviting the wrong kind of attention. So, if you’re going to participate, you need to:
- Make sure it’s REALLY on brand and will resonate with your audience.
- Be especially careful about any trends concerning political or social issues, as a misstep in these areas – even if you had the best intentions – can invite serious backlash.
- BE QUICK! Nothing is worse than seeing a brand post a trend 3 days too late.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg when planning a robust content marketing strategy. If you’re interested in learning more, let’s chat!
About Beck Digital
Over the last 20 years, Beck Digital has crafted more than 3,000 custom digital solutions for leading Fortune 100 and 500 companies across multiple industries, including healthcare, nonprofit, technology, luxury real estate, and financial industries, among others. Our recommendations stem from our profound expertise and experience across multiple channels in numerous industries. We work seamlessly within your team to ensure the solutions we develop speak to the essence of your brand and drive customer engagement every step of the way.