The National Geographic Channel and the History Channel both have great documentaries about any topic under the sun. Why do they keep producing these detailed shows? Because people love watching them. They give information, data, and facts about a topic that audiences know little or don’t know about. But then, other people don’t like watching documentaries because they find it boring and of no use to them.
This is the same for content marketing. Most of the success stories always have a documented content marketing strategy. And those that don’t have, most likely fail or aren’t doing so well.
But why don’t companies try to emulate those that do document their strategies so that they will achieve the same successes?
Their reasons could be a variety of things. First comes to mind is that companies don’t prioritize documentation. They cannot allot resources to do this part of the marketing strategy because most of the people on the team just have too many things on their hands. Companies classify themselves as a small fledgling in the content marketing universe, so to them, documentation isn’t a big deal. They feel that the time spent on meeting with the content marketing team to even plan out documenting their strategies could very well be spent on creating whatever is in their strategy already. But they fail to see that by documenting first, they are actually prioritizing content – which is the heart of our marketing success.
What’s so difficult about documentation? It’s just a two-part process: 1.) Plan your strategy. 2.) Put it on paper (or some online format). That’s it! Is that too difficult to do? Do you need to hire extra manpower to do just these 2 things? No? Then why not try to understand the simple process of doing a detailed documentation. It’s simple to do yet the rewards are aplenty including mistakes being avoided, strategies improved, changes being made and many more.
Before starting the actual documentation, your team must decide which format to use. Which one can work best in your office set-up? Which one can be easily updated regularly, can be accessed by all team members, is very detailed and secure. Google Docs and Google Sheets are two popular formats that you can use. Others are PowerPoint and PDFs.
Let’s breakdown the different stages:
Stage 1: Creating an Editorial Calendar
Before you present the different details, create one big picture of the whole content marketing strategy. This is like prepping the whole team, (including stakeholders) of what you are about to do. This calendar will already give them an idea of your strategy. Here you present in general terms what content your team will create, when it is needed and finally how it will be distributed. It’s one big action plan.
Stage 2: Creating a Requests/Ideas Team
In the first company I worked with, we had someone who we would go to for article topics. He and his small group had the unenvious task of regularly producing topics and content ideas and distributing to our in-house writers as requested by our link-builders. He loved his job because it gave him a sense of power as to who got prioritized for requests and ideas.
Have a repository of topics made by Team Ideas and group them by niche or industry and another one for future audiences. Approved topics go to detailed classifications. If the need comes up, team members know where to consult from or get ideas from. It’s very convenient.
Once it is set up, let everyone know about it and the methods on how they can access this repository together with the standard methods of requesting and the actions that must be taken after requests are answered.
Stage 3: Documenting your prioritization
Prioritization is a very delicate but necessary step. You need to identify which content projects go first and schedule what should come next. This task should be done by someone who either works closely with the request/ideas team or is the one who is actually in charge of the request/ideas. This is critical for him to be able to target goals and manage schedules very well. He should also be able to visibly show to the team, management and stakeholders where each project is at in terms of delivery and accomplishment.
Stage 4: Documenting the content creation process
The next step is the actual creation of the content. You might think content creation is as simple as allowing your content team (writers, infographics creators, videographers, etc.) to produce whatever topic you assign to them and then submit it to the Content Manager for proper handling. But it should still be documented showing a clear path from creation to release.
What goes on in the whole content creation stage?
- The actual writing
- The submission of the content
- Approval by editors (for topic relevancy, accuracy and keyword compliance)
- And finally the go signal
Each step should have a name or names attached to it, and a time frame (or deadline) so that whenever someone inquires about a certain content, it will be easy to track where it is at the moment. Again, it is very convenient.
Stage 5: Documenting distribution, publication and promotion
Now the best part is the distribution. You have in your possession the best content there is. But how will people find it if your distribution plan doesn’t exist or isn’t very good? You need to create a plan on how to publish, share and distribute your epic content to your target audience.
In this plan, you will have to identify which channels to use and consider the strengths and weaknesses of each. This includes paid, earned and owned channels. You should also plan which content goes to which channel and which ones are appropriate for the right social media platform. The person responsible in this stage should work closely with the content team.
Stage 6: Documenting content conventions and storage
Now that content has finally been released (and you’re just waiting for analytics), it is good to plan out how you will organize all the content that went through your marketing strategy and where to store them for easy retrieval. Imagine a filing cabinet with clear labels so you know where each article, blog post, white paper, etc. can be found. One again, this is utterly convenient.
An important storage issue is where to put all your organized content. Your options include main servers, Cloud storage, Google Drive, etc. And what are your filename conventions? You should present this to the whole team so that everyone will have an easy way to locate the different files, graphics, videos and other materials.
Success stories in content marketing strategy all have one common denominator and that is a well-oiled documentation of all stages. You will be able to implement your strategies faster because a lot of time and effort have been saved, conflicts avoided and resources wisely used once you have refined and eventually adapted to the documentation strategy. You will not get it right initially, for sure. But then again, it doesn’t have to be perfect at first. But continue to improve on it and stick to the plan. Sit back and relax, you are now part of the elite group of content marketers.
Chief Content Officer
Annie has 19 years’ experience as an editor and content creator and manager. With work in television and written media, she has dedicated her past 10 years to learning the ropes of online content creation, from writing to editing, from SEO to content management.
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