The truth is, there are no easy answers. If you do a simple search for "content marketing plan" google returns 315,000,000 possible links. That's the sign of either a buzz word or buzz kill.
There are all kinds of experts in the area, and some great organizations like the Content Marketing Institute that are readily available to offer advice and tools to help, but maybe, even that is too much.
I've spent quite a bit of time thinking about content marketing strategies, first for a small music publication, next for a bunch of radio stations, and now for an emerging tech-startup. In all cases, my goal is always the same. Drive audience engagement ultimately to the brand, its content, and its product or service.
Each time the product or service, the content and the brand has been very different, but for me at least, the content marketing strategy has been more or less the same.
In evaluating your approach, keep in mind, that ultimately your audience will decide if your strategy is successful, so you may want to start with them.
Your audience is the lifeline of your business, without them, you don't have a business. Who are you talking to today, and ultimately who do you want to talk to in the future? I'd suggest doing as much research around your target and maybe even a secondary or tertiary audience as well. Know as much as you can about them. Think about their lifestyle, how they ingest your message, and why they would care about what you're about. How much do they know about what you're engaging them with. Make sure you tailor any messaging you have to them. It will help drive engagement and ultimately evangelism for your brand, product or service.
I could have easily mentioned content before audience, and believe me, it was hard to put them first, cause everything we know about content, is that its king. Maybe they are "one" and "one a". Content for me at least comes down to effective story-telling. Authentic story-telling that provides thought leadership wins the day. Too often we get bogged down in wanting to exclusively tell our story, but sometimes sharing and curating other opinions and thoughts help shape our audience's perception of us. Compelling content will always drive a return on investment. Sometimes that means sales, other times you can just be satisfied that you've created something people are reading and enjoying.
The tricky part is spreading that well crafted content. You should connect with your audience wherever they are. What platforms and technology are they using to connect with one another and ultimately with you? Is that your website, your blog, your social media outlets or maybe it's a Soundcloud or Youtube presence. No matter how they connect, consistency on whatever platform you chose to deliver your message. That doesn't mean being everywhere all the time, it does mean being consistent on whatever you chose to do. Think about how you receive and engage with content. Be thoughtful of your audience. I'd send up a schedule so that you aren't bombarding them with your content, but do have a measured approach. Don't be afraid to experiment either. Try out new platforms, abandon ones that aren't working, but keep tabs on everything you do. That guide will help you determine how you are doing, and what you could be doing more or less of. It's also good to remind your audience where you are spreading the joy and love. A shout out to my brothers and sisters at Uberflip a tool that brings together everything you're doing to spread your message.
I alluded to this notion of measuring your success or failure. You need to ensure that you are always getting the most out of your plan and strategy. Sometimes it's to please your boss, provide some kind of indication of the return on investment or just know you are doing a good job. Truth is, it will help you immensely to know exactly what is happening within your content marketing landscape. You need to know that you can pivot and change tasks so that you make the most out of every strategy you want to perform.
If you rinse and repeat this strategy of understanding your audience, creating great content for your audience, sharing that content with your audience where they are and consistently tracking their interaction with you, you are bound for glory.