How to Use Your Business Plan To Develop A Content Marketing Strategy

Every business has a strategic plan of some sorts, even if its written on the back of an envelope somewhere!

plan B strategic planning

(image – “Plan B Showing Alternative Strategy” by Stuart Miles, freedigitalphotos.net)

Unfortunately the term ‘strategic planning’ is probably one of those  phrases that has become a bit of a buzz word in management.

In other words everyone talks about it but nobody really implements it that well.

But when used correctly it has the potential to provide some really detailed insights into the workings of your business, including where your content marketing strategy should be focused.

This article explores some of the areas of your business strategic plan that can be used alongside a content marketing strategy.

Strategic Planning Process

Strategic planning is often dismissed by companies and businesses as a waste of time – I know this as a former business consultant and the enthusiasm I was greeted with.

But even the most reluctant manager can become enthused once they realise that we are talking about their own real business and the planning is for their growth, analysing their own competitors and reviewing past actions.

So how does all this link into content marketing?

Business Planning

Any business that uses a content marketing approach should be aligning their content production with the goals and objectives of their business plan.

In general most business plans start with the broadest vision of the company and end with a list of practical actions to be achieved in the next 12 months.

Filling the gap between the vision and the everyday tasks are the business goals and objectives, which can be described as;

  • Vision – long term overview of the business development and ethos
  • Goals – broad and long term (3-5 years) desired achievements
  • Objectives – more specific and offer a practical breakdown of the path to achieving the goals
  • Actions – individual tasks to complete and achieve the objectives.

Developing a content marketing strategy can follow a similar process by ensuring that its approach mirrors the ethos and plan of the business. For example.

business and content plan details

Business plan sample vision, goals and objective and matching content production.

Content Marketing And Strategy

Many of the tools used in business planning can also be used in developing a content marketing strategy, such as;

  • SCOT analysis
  • Action Plans
  • Timelines
  • Reviews
  • Evaluations

The only main difference is that content planning is already happening within the set framework of an existing business plan, whereas a business plan has an open remit to develop and re-change its focus entirely if required.

SCOT Analysis

In business planning one of the tools that is used is a SCOT Analysis, which looks at the four areas of influence on a  business.

  1. Strengths
  2. Challenges
  3. Opportunities
  4. Threats

In marketing the same tool can be used to analyse competitors and highlight potential challenges in terms of SEO and ranking.

Strengths can include;

  • content production skills of a team of writers,
  • ability to use, produce and distribute digital media
  • access to followers and an existing customer base

Challenges can be;

  • overly competitive subject matter
  • age and ranking potential of websites
  • skill base of content team
  • access to material relevant to subject

Opportunities might include;

  • new technology and software
  • new subject matter opening up new material to produce content on
  • trips planned to producers, opportunities for interviews, videos, podcasts productions

Threats are usually external to the content production such as;

  • resources being cut for content
  • reduction in staff / sick leave / maternity leave
  • competitors increasing their presence in your field
  • changes in search engine requirements / adapting to penalties

These four areas together should help to identify the main resources and potential risks of your content marketing approach.

If this exercise is done first and then the business SCOT also looked at for further ideas, then the two processes will link together.

Action Planning And Timelines

Another tool that is used in business planning is to develop a detailed action timeline. This is basically a list of all the main actions of the business such as promotions, sales, key events that will occur during the year.

action plan for business and content

Action planning for business and content production

The diagram shown here provides a simple illustration, of how this organic veg company has to plan their products and shift their focus according to the seasons.

Content production, shown here in the blue arrows, also needs to reflect this and because the seasons are short, material needs to be produced out of season ready to go.

Knowing which producers, farmers and products are a priority for the business will be important for content production teams, so that their material reflects the same priorities.

 

Reviews And Evaluations

Reviews are not usually welcomed in most businesses, but they are an important tool for understanding what went well and where improvements could be made for next time.

image review and evaluation planning

(Image – “Review Diagram Displays Data Questionnaire Or Opinion” by Stuart Miles, freedigitalphotos.net)

Many organisations focus on what did not go well, but it is also important to document what worked and why.

Otherwise it will be hard to repeat this again if you change something that was core to the success and didn’t realise it.

The purpose for a review is to inform planning, it’s not an end in itself nor should the focus stay on something that didn’t work.

Out of the review there needs to be actions agreed, even if they are simply to keep doing what you are currently doing.

Review Content Marketing

Reviews can and should happen at 2 levels, across the whole business and for content marketing specifically.

Collecting evidence of success, or being clear that something isn’t working and knowing why are cornerstones of an effective review.

In order to review content marketing you need to have a clear purpose for the content and;

  • You need to set targets e.g.- achieve sales, increase signups, increase visitors, increase engagement
  • You need appropriate tools to measure these targets e.g.- data analytics, email stats
  • You need to be able to translate the data into an easy to read and understand format, so that all members of the content team and other areas of the business can be involved in deciding the next steps.

Summary

Content marketing is a long term strategy approach. So it is important that you can monitor how well it is achieving, even if this doesn’t immediately translate into increased sales or conversions.

Working to the company business plan means that all areas of the business are moving in the same direction and can support each other.

  • So the marketing team can provide content that the sales team can refer clients to.
  • Readers of a company blog site know what is coming up in the future and can share and plan with their own friends and colleagues.
  • Outsourced business producers know they have been used in a  promotional video, which they can then use with other visitors or clients they work with.

In other words, in order for content marketing to work effectively it needs to be a core part of the entire business strategy and this can only happen if the content plan is linked to the business plan and everyone in the company is aware of and working to both.

Further Reading

Other articles that you may find relevant to this subject matter include;

I hope you found this article useful and if so please feel free to share it with colleagues and on your own social media networks, thanks.

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