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Content Marketing Framework: Plan Plan the work. Work the plan.

Planning can take a number of forms, depending on where you are in your content marketing journey, but it should be the first — and strongest — thread throughout your content marketing framework.

Are you getting started? Planning might take the form of a creating your business case (these 50+ stats can help). Or maybe you want to study examples of those businesses that have successfully used content marketing (our documentary looks at six outstanding examples in depth or get inspired with our favorite 75 examples). Here is one of our favorite examples: John Deere. Note: If you are new to content marketing, check out our getting started how-to guide to understand what content marketing is.

You need to understand your purpose Once you understand what content is and why you want to invest your time, you need to create your strategy. Your strategy helps you avoid the one mistake that is causing companies to fail at content marketing. And, as our annual research has repeatedly shown, it’s a key differentiator between effective marketers and their less effective peers.

Before you do start your content marketing plan, you need to understand why you are creating content in the first place. The best and simplest way to solidify your purpose is to create your content marketing mission statement. Launching a successful content marketing program has never been easier.

Content Marketing Framework: Target Audience The only way we can maintain long-term success is to continually engage people.

As with your content marketing plan, the evaluation of your different audiences (both inside and outside your organization) should occur regularly along your content marketing journey.

Create your personas

One of the tenets of content marketing is that you need to understand — and write specifically — for your audience. To help you do this, it’s essential to create your personas:

Remember your influencers You may think buyer persona = customer, but there are other influencers you need to consider as well. This short video featuring Amanda Maksymiw, Leslie Reiser, and Waynette Tubbs reminds us that you need to have a plan for reaching industry thought leaders, those within your organization and customers.

Content Marketing Framework: Story Developing the content in our content marketing strategy is developing the stories of us. It’s the big ideas that we represent. It’s the differentiated experiences we want to create. It’s what we REALLY do for a living. For better or worse — it’s that simple.

Storytelling is not intended to be a “selling” tool; it’s a method of building strong relationships with your customers and a thriving community of loyalists over time. Your story identifies what your passions are and serves as the foundation for all your future content developments. One way to uncover your company’s “story” is through our Brand Hero’s Journey Chart. The chart can help you develop a structure that can be used across one small content marketing initiative — or across an entire strategy of content marketing throughout your company.

Content Marketing Framework: Channels A good content marketing channel plan frees you from the constraints of any one content channel. As your blog efforts wane, or as social media channels come and go — or as your success on any one of them ebbs and wanes — you won’t be trapped into a singular channel.

Once you are ready to share your stories with the world, you need a strategic channel strategy in place. Remember: The content strategy defines your channel strategy — not the other way around.So be sure you have a solid content strategy in place first (yes, even if that means going back to the “Plan”) before you even start thinking about your channel plan. You may be wondering how social media fits into this. Which channels are best for you? Check out the conversation with CMI consultants Carla Johnson, Michael Weiss, Ardath Albee, and

As CMI’s content marketing research indicates, there are four primary channels marketers use: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube. Get insights on how to use these as well as 10 other channels in 58 Social Media Tips for Content Marketing. This is also a time when editorial planning, and even budgeting, should start to occur. Here are some posts to help you plan your editorial efforts:

Content Marketing Framework: Process If we haven’t said it enough, we’ll say it one more time: The processes you put in place to manage your content marketing will be unique. Your story is (or should be) unique, and so too will be your method for telling it.

Once you have developed your content marketing plan, identified your audience and created your channel plan, it’s time to operationalize all of this.

As Pam Didner says (and as anyone who works in this industry would agree), “There’s no shortcut in terms of deploying content marketing.” In the video below, Kelly LeVoyer (Director, Marketing Editorial, SAS), Kevin Cain (Director of Content Strategy, OpenView Venture Partners), Pam Didner (Global Integrated Marketing Manager, Intel Corporation), Waynette Tubbs (Manager, Marketing Editorial, SAS), Elizabeth Gaines (Senior Director, SAP Global Marketing), and Michael Kirsten (Senior Manager, Global Content, Kelly Services) share their challenges and ideas for managing content marketing across their often complex and highly-matrixed organizations. View the post, 6 Experts Share Tips for Managing the Content Marketing Process, to get more insights. The Content Marketing Process Roundtable from Content Marketing Institute on Vimeo.

Organize your content marketing team To operationalize content marketing, you need the right team in place.

Optimize your content As part of having a conversation, you’ll need to create content. But, before you do that, you need to understand how you will optimize this for your users. While all of your content should be written for people, not search engines, understanding the basics of search engine optimization will help a great deal:

Content Marketing Framework: Conversation Your content is now a conversation. It’s a story that needs an audience to respond. So, yes, go out and create great content. Be the leader in your industry because you consistently share value. BUT, share it.

In addition to a solid strategy, team, and processes, there’s one key element of your framework that needs to be nurtured: a connection to, and conversations with, your consumers.

Talking with content The core of your conversation will be the content that you create. If you are like many marketers, you may be wondering what to write about. Without question, write about things that interest your audience. You can also get tips on specific content types:          

Blogs eNewsletters Infographics In-person events Podcasts Print magazines Video Web content Webinars White Papers


Of course, there are two parts of any conversation: talking (your content) and listening. Not only do you need to set up listening posts, but you also need to figure out how to respond to the conversation.

Content Marketing Framework: Measurement For content marketing, it’s a long season. There are, and should be, many chances to fail — as long as we fail quickly, learn, and adapt to the new surroundings.

Measurement comes at the end of this framework, but for many, it’s the beginning, middle, end (and everything in between) of your content marketing process… and it’s not easy.

As our content marketing research indicates, 33 percent of B2B marketers and 41 percent of B2C marketers cited the inability to measure as a significant challenge. In the video below, CMI consultants Carla Johnson, Michael Weiss, Ardath Albee, and Jay Baer discuss why this number is likely too low, and share some of their insights into what, specifically, content marketers need to be measuring. Just because you can measure just about anything these days, doesn’t mean that you should. Metrics can be all-consuming and confusing, so first, determine a few fundamentals that you should focus on

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