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Content Creation Process: How To Do Content Planning Right

“How do you create content?” One asks.

“Write it, edit it, publish it. Simple.” One answers.

But here’s the thing…

… even without mentioning the fact that there are multiple types of content that takes more than writing and editing to create…

Content creation is simply not that simple.

Process Is The Key To Content Marketing

Can you imagine running your business without a solid plan?

Probably not.

But here’s a fact:

Only 33% of B2C marketers surveyed have a documented content marketing strategy.
— Newscred Insight

This surprising fact shed light on a common misunderstanding when it comes to content marketing: the real difficulty rarely lies in the creation of content, but much more in the preparation stage.

How to prepare for content creation?

As the old saying goes: Without planning, there will be no success.

But the thing is, 80% of the time, our focus on pre-creation planning is off. Instead of focusing on the fundamental pieces, our attention, and more importantly, our time and investment, is diverted by the countless content planning tools, templates and calendars…

… only to realize that we have stocked our inventory with tools, yet lack the process to efficiently implementing them.

The General Content Creation Process

It doesn’t matter whether you are creating content for social media, for website, or even for print media and traditional channels such as TV and Radio. The key to having a process, is about being able to adapt the same process for different aspects, with only the most minor modifications.

The reason is simple.

Quality content marketing is much more than “Rinse & Repeat,” however, it is by no means recreating the wheels every time either (because all content marketer would have died of exhaustion in that scenario).

The general content creation process can be easily interpreted with a linear model, such as the one below:

The general content creation workflow

The general content creation workflow

The Preparation Stage

  • Planning: Deciding the basics of a piece of content

  • Research: Research both the potential return of investment in content creation, and the actual materials you need to create that piece of content.

  • The Production Stage

    • Creation: Build the content

    • Editing: Make modifications

    • Publish: Bring your content live

  • The Feedback Stage

    • Analyze: Did the content perform the way you wd it to?

    • Review: Why did or didn’t it perform the way you wanted it to? What can you change next time to make it better?

For this article, we are only focusing on the planning stage of content marketing (Stage 1. under the Preparation Stage) and content creation, as this stage is where you will be laying the foundation stone of each creation process.

If you are rather new to digital marketing, or simply are new to business, be sure to check out some good resources to learn about content marketing strategy including planning, targeting and creating. These resources are designed for people with little or zero content marketing experience and will make the introduction phase to content creation much more smoother and friendlier.

How to Plan Your Next Content

The content planning stage can be further separated into a “business-oriented” phase and a “consumer-oriented” phase.

Here, “business” stands for the person benefiting from content marketing (a.k.a your client, your business, or any organization who the content is created for), and “consumer” stands not for the general understanding of customers, but the “consumers (readers/viewers) of content.”

Why Two Phases?

I know, this is starting to sound a bit complicated and time-consuming.

But let’s have some data to shed light on the importance of planning your content from both perspectives.

(Image credit:  Cision.com )

(Image credit: Cision.com)

According to statistics collected across the web:

  • 89% of marketers want to improve the traceability and measurability of content impact; (business)

  • 63% of marketers are having problems generating traffics and leads w/ their content; (business)

  • 70% of users want to learn about the products via real content instead of promos or traditional advertisements; (consumer)

  • 75% of people are more likely to converse/take action if they can find helpful local content via search; (consumer)

I loved this image not only because the key data it points out, but also how it showed data on both the marketer and consumer side.

In another article where I talk about the Top 10 SEO tactics you can use to improve content performance in 2020, there’s something I repeatedly mentioned.

That is:

Write your content for your audience, not for the search engine.

What this means is that: in order for your content to be profitable in terms of lead generation and prospect nurturing, it takes more than being optimized.

The Business-Oriented Phase

This is the fundamental stage where the marketer determines the following items:

  • WHAT is this content for?

    Is it for lead generation? For re-introducing yourselves to previous customers/clients? What are you trying to accomplish with this piece of content? Is it to stay in the vision of your current prospects? Or to prepare for a certain event? Or to introduce something new?

  • WHAT is this content’s format?

    Is this an article? A signage/flyer/e-newsletter? A video? A podcast? Is this a single-piece content or a composition of various types and derivations in terms of formats and length?

  • WHAT message are you sending out?

  • HOW could you track the efficiency of this piece?

The business-oriented phase guides the macro aspect of the content. It decides the all the basics of the piece: purpose, usage, format and structure, and method of tracking.

The Consumer-Oriented Phase

Once you’ve determined the basics of your content, it is time to move into the world of consumer psychology, aka the Consumer-Oriented planning phase.

Sometimes we call this the targeting phase. Instead of asking the WHAT and HOWs, we ask WHO and WHYs.

Below are the questions you should ask during this phase:

  • WHO would be interested in this type of content?

    What are their professions? Age? Gender? What kind of tone or voice do they usually prefer? What kind of stuff do they typically read?

  • WHY should they read your content?

    What’s their intention? Are they gathering general information as references? Doing specific research to support a buying action?

  • WHAT do you want them to get out of your content?

    Should they feel better (emotion)? Or find out the info they were looking for (knowledge)? Or initiate an action (COA)? etc…

The consumer-oriented phase is the human phase that helps you to determine the tone, voice, structure, layout, duration, and other features that tie closely to the emotional and psychological aspects of your content.

Do notice, however, that these two phases are not meant to be done one after another.

Rather, they should naturally be happening simultaneously and intertwined.

If you are planning to spend 40-50hrs a month on content marketing, at least 15 of them should be used in content planning. Once you know who you are talking to, why you are creating this piece, and how it fits into your overall content marketing strategy, the rest is all research and implementation.

Just remember: in the content world, it is all about people and the quality of your content, less about how many keywords you hit and how many blogs you post.

In our video on Youtube, we pointed that the no.1 rule of winning the content and SEO game is write for your audience.

Provide them the information they need, then add on your SEO tactics to make sure people can see your content.

Write in your audience’s tone, before adapting any “optimized writing models” that sometimes treat your audience as 3-year-olds who cannot read and have no intelligence.

However…

A Present For You

If you are not a professional marketer, then sometimes it can be frustrating to go through the planning process as-is.

Even a marketer needs to learn to flexibly adapt this planning process in order to efficiently stick to the company’s content marketing strategy.

As we said earlier, it is unrealistic to re-invent the wheels every time.

That is why we’ve put together a simplified version of pre-content worksheet here for you to grab. Simply click/tap on the button below to download your copy!

The best thing?

No email-subscription is required!

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My Top 5 Content Marketing Resources

My Top 5 Content Marketing Resources

Content marketing resources are all over the place. That’s why it’s better to trust the “signature resource list” put together by a pro! They are tested and verified digital marketing resources, and we are giving them to you for free!