We’ve finally reached that part of the plan that most resembles what people think of when they think of “plan”: a sequence of steps and actions you can plot on a spreadsheet (and probably will, at some point.)
While it’s impossible to precisely articulate such a sequence (that is, without exact knowledge of your selected tactics) I can state the obvious and note that, for EACH of the tactics you identified in step 6, you need to establish:
Who: Who will create the content? Who will oversee it to ensure that the work gets done AND that it’s consistent with company objectives, strategy, messaging and brand? Who will follow up to track its results?
When: What’s your creation and release calendar? How often will you create your posts, tweets, papers, videos, etc.?
Where: Where will you distribute this content? With whom (channel partners, influencers, allies) will you share it?
How: What talent, tools and resources do you need to create your content? How will you promote it? How will you measure its progress and success?
Why: No, damn it. You shouldn’t have to answer this now because you’ve done this already, in step 4 when you determined your business objectives.
This is all basic, obvious stuff, right? Got your spreadsheet all filled out, your best-laid plans well laid? Great. Now please allow me to muck it all up by asking you to challenge your plan against these following reality checks:
25-hour days, 8-day weeks: Chances are, you have assigned some tactics, such as blog posting and tweet-twittering, to people who already have a lot on their plates. When, exactly, will they get to this new work? Will it displace other work? Will it become another painful obligation they have to fill on their own time? This is both a realistic execution AND ethics question. To meet it, you have to either reduce their current work load or increase their compensation/rewards or both. Or you may have some justifiably resentful employees on your hands – and bitter employees are never the most enthusiastic contributors to your content marketing efforts.
Measure what matters: Way back in step 4, I noted that your business objectives not only provided the spinal why of your strategy, but would determine what, exactly, you should measure. Please tread carefully – statistics can become a quicksand of misinformation if your metrics aren’t carefully matched to your methodology. For example, if your blog’s true goal is serve as spider food to improve organic search performance, then the number of subscribers is irrelevant and tracking that number is a waste of time, or worse, a potential source of misleading disinformation. Instead, you would want to examine your website and keyword analytics to see if you’re attracting more visits (and more visits by the right people) over time.
Trial and error: The point of your plan is to contribute to your strategy’s success, not to impose rigid rules to your efforts. If you find unexpected success with a particular tactic – mazel tov! Or as they say in art school, “keep going in that direction.” And if, after a reasonable period (don’t make me tell you what that might be, because I don’t know), something isn’t working out, don’t torture yourself and your colleagues – just drop it.
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