As a content marketer, you know that the road from idea to completed content can have twists and turns. But just like any good driver, you’re going to need a map to get you to your destination. That’s the essence of content planning, and to get to that destination, you’ll need a robust content planning framework.
Content planning is different from creating a content marketing strategy. A strategy is critical, of course, but content planning is really focused on the how, not the why, of content marketing.
Think of it like this; your content plan is continually feeding you directions to help you get to your destination, whereas your strategy says “we’re road-tripping to Florida for an awesome family vacation and we’re going to need lots of snacks!”
Your strategy sets the destination, but you can’t hit the road without content planning. Your planning dictates directions, workflows and project management. And a solid content planning framework removes obstacles and hazards. This can be a treacherous path, as 32% of content marketers believe their content workflow is fair or poor, as per CMI research.
But nobody said content planning was easy. It can be complex, and the bigger your team and the more content you produce, the more complicated it becomes. To smoothly get from point A to point B, you need to create a content planning framework.
Building Your Framework: Where Are You Losing Speed?
Content planning has its challenges, so when you start to develop a framework, you need to figure out where the roadblocks are.
Is Your Content Team Isolated?
First, consider your content team. Are they an island unto themselves? Are they disconnected from sales, product development, and other areas of your company? This makes it difficult for them to deliver high-quality assets consistently.
They need the opportunity to collaborate when developing ideas and crafting content. Why does this matter in content planning? Well, one of the biggest obstacles your team may be facing is interfacing with SMEs or other thought leaders. If your content team is isolated, it’s hard to develop an environment that encourages consulting with others.
Create a Content Plan with Visibility and Flexibility
One key to having an effective content planning framework is to have a content marketing platform that provides visibility and flexibility. This accessibility enables team members and leadership to have a holistic view.
This also supports the need for accountability. With a visible plan, it’s easy to see who is assigned to what task. For example, if you are working on a new explainer video, it has lots of parts to it. You’ll need a storyboard and script from the writer, an animator to create the video, and an editor to QA the video.
The video may also have to go through numerous approvals, all which need to be included in the plan to ensure timely completion.
Once the video is complete, then you have your distribution and social media teams that need to post and share it. Having all of this visible in your content marketing platform means it’s less likely that any one task will fall through the cracks.
Flexibility is also key to your content plan. In reality, the unexpected happens all the time. What if the video mentioned above is ready to publish, but something changed with your product so you need to make adjustments?
With a flexible framework, you’ll be able to immediately identify what team members need to get back on the project so that it stays on track.
The Time Challenge
There’s so much to plan and never enough time! In fact, in our 2018 Content Planning Report, the number one challenge cited was being too busy to collaborate.
Should you plan to plan? Yes, you should. You need to get your team on the same page and working within the same framework.
It’s no secret that marketing moves fast and it’s hard to keep up with the demand for content. But it’s worth taking a moment to pause and having regular working sessions where you talk about your plan. However, it’s not necessary to get granular on each piece; rather, commit to a cadence and then work toward filling up your calendar.
Ready to Build Your Framework?
There are six critical components that your content plan framework should include. Let’s take a look at how to develop each one.
1. Document It
Documenting processes and content workflow to ensure consistency is essential to your framework. Without documenting the process, it’s like a road with no markings. It creates chaos and your team will have to work extra hard to stay on the same page. Documentation is fundamental for your content planning to run smoothly.
2. Use a Content Calendar
Content calendars are a backbone for planning as well. Both executives and creatives alike long for a visual guide showing every content project going on and when everything is due. It should be transparent and accessible to all who are engaged in content creation.
Look for a content calendar platform that has these attributes:
- Organizes everything in one place
- Allows for communication and collaboration
- Offers powerful filtering
- Enables custom configurations based on your needs
3. Get Your Team in Planning Shape
Your content team should participate in any necessary process or platform training to ensure that content planning is as frictionless as possible. This should be an easy and simple set-up that’s repeatable so your team doesn’t spend too much time simply learning how to use the tools.
4. Find the Best Channels
Distribution and promotion are vital in ensuring that your content reaches the right people and drives a return on your investment. Your framework must have a process and focus on leveraging data to understand the best channels.
You need to know if your posts on LinkedIn are attracting your buyers or if your email campaigns resonate with those on your list.
5. Remove Barriers to Collaboration
One of the challenges we looked at earlier was content teams being isolated from other groups. But individuals on your teams could be as well. Your framework must encourage and enable collaboration. So, you need tools to support this. It should be easy and effortless to connect with team members and communicate whenever necessary.
6. Measure and Optimize
Your framework should also include metrics to track your content efforts. You need to ensure that your content is helping you meet your goals. For example, you definitely need to know if your blog is generating leads. Looking at specific metrics can provide you with this information and allow you to take action to either tweak your strategy or further optimize.
Your content planning framework doesn’t have to be a challenge. Simplify the content process with the content marketing platform that brands have fully embraced, DivvyHQ. Check out how it works today!