5 Strategic Frameworks To Take the Guesswork Out of Content Planning

It’s no secret: Building your content material technique round the purchaser’s journey received’t make clear what you want for efficient content material decision-making.

Consumers merely don’t observe a dependable, linear buy course of anymore. Too many analysis channels, suggestions loops, and competing messages imply too few alternatives on your content material to exert affect – if they may even discover it – earlier than they make a shopping for determination.

Today’s journey seems extra like the back-and-forth gauntlet depicted in this graphic from Gartner (registration required.) It illustrates the complexity of the common B2B shopping for determination as the stakeholders navigate from drawback identification to provider choice, figuring out all the wants, necessities, and options after which (typically) endlessly debating earlier than a call is made.

Every new content material perception or useful resource launched at the fallacious time can maintain up the clients’ choices as a substitute of easing their path to conversion.

In her Content Marketing World session, Ali Wert, Appfire’s senior director of content material technique, asserts that content material entrepreneurs want a roadmap for constructing an audience-centric technique that cuts by the confusion. That technique should be constant, scalable, and related to the enterprise targets.

To assist, she shares 5 frameworks to construct and implement a roadmap for extra exact content material decision-making throughout your enterprise.

#Content marketers need a roadmap to build an audience-centric #ContentStrategy in a consistent, connected, and repeatable way, says @AliOrlandoWert via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Signs your technique wants an improve

When a technique fails to account for right this moment’s erratic and unpredictable shopping for paths, two outcomes typically come up – funnel imaginative and prescient and random acts of content material. Ali says every could cause ripple results that affect your content material’s worth and efficiency.

Funnel imaginative and prescient

A technique hyper-focused on a standard funnel or linear purchaser’s journey may end up in short-sighted planning. “Funnel vision” can stop you from addressing pre- and post-funnel engagement. “Ultimately, it means we can miss out on valuable opportunities to build long-term audiences who are engaged with us, even if they’re not in the purchasing process yet,” Ali says.

Look for these crimson flags to find out in case your content material program is responsible of funnel imaginative and prescient:

  • Your viewers of engaged followers is just not rising. This retains you from constructing trusted relationships with customers enthusiastic about what you must say, even when they aren’t but in the marketplace for an answer.
  • Your model’s services and products drive your content material, not your viewers’s pursuits. This can stop your content material from standing out and compelling customers to contemplate your model over others in a crowded market.
  • Your content material metrics reporting prioritizes leads and principally disregards long-term engagement – a key efficiency indicator (KPI) of model affinity and future buy intent.
  • Your workforce takes “sales orders” for content material as a substitute of creating content material primarily based on natural wants and strategic alternatives. The ensuing content material typically fails to mirror rising wants and shopping for behaviors.

Random acts of content material

Without a clear, unifying framework, it’s possible you’ll be creating random acts of content material. Ali explains that’s when content material will get created haphazardly, performs erratically, and fails to contribute something significant to the enterprise.

When this occurs, some content material performs nicely, however its success isn’t predictable or scalable on your technique.

Among the indicators your program operates in “random acts of content” mode:

  • Neither your content material workforce nor different associated capabilities agree on the content material technique. Without that alignment, it’s possible you’ll expertise pointless collaborative friction and decreased productiveness.
  • The model’s key messages are inconsistent throughout the group. Internal confusion can create a disjointed viewers expertise throughout your content material channels and platforms.
  • You rely too closely on self-importance metrics or can’t sufficiently exhibit content material’s long-term affect on ROI. That could make it exhausting to get government buy-in or the sources to drive model success.
  • The content material technique doesn’t scale as the model launches new merchandise, develops new personas, enters new verticals, or experiences a change in market circumstances. This lack of progress can increase questions on the worth of the model’s content material advertising and marketing program.

To get your content material planning into alignment – and enhance the effectiveness of the ensuing property, Ali recommends implementing these 5 frameworks to provide your workforce a roadmap to navigate the non-linear shopping for course of with the proper content material and positioning.

Establish high-level messaging with the StoryBrand framework

Successful content material establishes two-way communication between your model and your viewers. So, you first have to establish what you need to get throughout.  “A killer content marketing strategy must be preceded by strong positioning and messaging,” Ali says.

A killer #ContentMarketing strategy must be preceded by strong positioning and messaging, says @AliOrlandoWert via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

When creating these messages, it’s good to take into account what is going to make them interesting and resonant for the client. The StoryBrand framework, developed by Donald Miller, is one technique to discover that.

In Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen, he explains how the method facilities on the concept that buyers are extra enthusiastic about connecting by relatable tales than brand-focused messaging.

As Donald mentioned, “Ultimately, our audiences want to be invited into a story where they are the hero.”

The StoryBrand methodology maps out that hero’s journey – a path consumers can expertise and relate to, not the path your model needs them to take.

As you possibly can see from the downloadable template (MyStoryBrand.com, registration required), the course of begins with characterizing the “hero” of your model’s story – i.e., your goal persona.


From there, you element their hero’s journey:

  • Their targets and needs
  • The issues stopping them from reaching these targets
  • The steerage and processes to beat these challenges
  • The circumstances or motivations driving them to take motion (direct or transitional)
  • The manifestations of success – and/or what may occur in the event that they don’t.

In the final part of the template, you summarize the hero’s transformation story. Ali says that turns into the foundation on your model narrative, was a number of content material property, and later repackaged for added channels and platforms.

Ali and her workforce labored by the StoryBrand train and introduced the model narrative instance beneath. It describes how having the proper plan and help (from the model in the kind of a “guide”) can rework an academic chief’s (the goal persona) expertise from feeling ineffective and disconnected (drawback) to having the capability to rework educating and studying (success).

“This is not just a philosophical exercise,” Ali says. “We’re now using this narrative to drive our web page copy and video scripts.”

However, Ali says the StoryBrand framework works greatest for high-level messaging. To develop extra detailed model messages, take into account the subsequent framework.

Deepen message resonance with the marketecture framework

As enterprise visionary Peter Drucker as soon as mentioned, “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well that the product or service fits him and sells itself.”

The marketecture framework helps you acquire that deeper buyer understanding and use it to place your messages for optimum resonance. Ali suggests utilizing the easy template developed by the Pragmatic Institute (paid registration required), however you may also construct your personal. Simply divide message improvement into three columns – one for every of the framework’s elementary elements: why (market issues), what (the “marketectured” profit your answer affords), and the way (particular product options that handle the drawback).

In every column, describe your persona:

  • Why: Articulate all their market issues associated to your online business. Include high-level and nitty-gritty considerations, and describe them from the purchaser’s level of view – for instance: “Educators really feel disconnected.“
  • How: (Jump over the center column to the “how” column.) Identify the particular function(s) of your answer that might handle every concern – for instance: “online communities.” (Note: It’s effective to repeat options of your options in the event that they apply to multiple market drawback.)
  • What: (Move again to the center column.) Write profit statements about how your chosen function resolves every drawback listed in the “why” column. Start every with a powerful verb, like “build,” “connect,” or “partner” – for instance: “Connect with different educators when it really works for you with easy-to-access on-line communities.“

Ali says when you undergo the train, you need to have a complete checklist of key drawback statements and advantages statements. Group them into 5 or 6 key themes to tell the creation of an aligned messaging technique. Make positive the ensuing content material at all times leads again to the recognized ache factors.

Connect messaging to content material planning with the jobs-to-be-done framework

Awareness of the purchaser’s deeper, emotional insights might help you intend related and helpful tales. It additionally helps guarantee the content material speaks to your viewers’s wants quite than focusing in your model’s messaging priorities.

Once you’ve outlined your model messaging, use the jobs-to-be-done framework to boost the content material’s resonance amongst your clients. It works by pinpointing the underlying aspirational targets that possible drive their buy behaviors.

As Ali explains, the need to purchase one thing, corresponding to a digital camera, isn’t the identical as the “job” they need to accomplish with that buy. “Maybe I’d like to capture memories with my family … or become a more-skilled photographer and launch a freelance business. Those are the jobs to be done – not purchasing the camera itself,” she says.

The framework is easy: Accomplish ____________ in order that _______________.

Ali suggests layering it over Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to floor the deeper emotional motivations that allow you to create extra resonant, distinct content material.

“It will help you zoom in on those painful, ‘papercut’ problems that keep people awake and keep them from succeeding in their jobs,” she says. “Who could they be, and what could they achieve if [your content] can remove those obstacles?”

Among the hierarchy of wants to contemplate:

  • Physiological and security – wants like meals, clothes, and shelter
  • Esteem and belonging/love – psychological wants like love, belonging, and shallowness
  • Self-fulfillment – private aspiration achievement and self-actualization

Plan your full content material expertise with the viewers wants framework

Your content material additionally ought to meet consumers’ informational wants. That accountability doesn’t start or finish with purchase-related data.

A sturdy content material technique ought to construct model affinity amongst customers who aren’t but in the market. It additionally ought to present for his or her informational wants after they’ve bought an answer.

It’s not the marketer’s job to inform customers when and the place to entry these sources. Instead, Ali says, it’s the marketer’s job to make sure you’re protecting the full spectrum of content material varieties they might be in search of.

That’s the place the viewers wants framework comes into play. Ali developed it to account for 5 varieties of priceless content material that entrepreneurs can create for every persona – from pre-funnel to construct model affinity to post-purchase to maintain their model connection.

Ali recommends contemplating your model’s particular use circumstances and your viewers’s priorities to find out which 5 wants to look at by your framework. For instance, in a B2B situation, your viewers’s content material wants may embrace:

  • Best practices that assist customers find out about related points and share your model’s thought management
  • Enjoyment content material that delivers moments of shock and delight, corresponding to branded memes or entertaining movies
  • Information that helps customers establish and validate their wants and lift their consciousness of potential options
  • Answers to their questions on find out how to method their wants and vet potential options
  • Help with utilizing their bought options and getting extra worth from them

One technique to apply this framework is by taking an present content material audit spreadsheet mapped to purchaser funnel phases and categorizing the content material in opposition to the 5 dimensions of viewers wants you’ve chosen.

For instance, she used a consumer’s content material audit that confirmed an excellent stability of the consciousness, consideration, and determination phases.

However, remapping that content material with the audience-needs framework revealed gaps of their protection of enjoyment and greatest practices. With that data, Ali’s consumer may create new content material to higher serve the audience higher throughout all their wants.

“It helped us get more intentional about what types of content to create and what to pull back on,” Ali says. But, she additionally factors out that you should use the framework for preliminary content material planning, too. For this, there’s no have to work from an audit spreadsheet – simply begin contemporary by mapping priceless content material varieties and subjects to the viewers wants you recognized.

Give ‘funnel jumpers’ management with the content material playground framework

As sharp as your viewers’s understanding could also be, the lack of a predictable shopping for path nonetheless makes it difficult. “Sometimes, we just don’t know where they are in their journey,” Ali says. “They could be very new to a concept and need a high-level conceptual explanation, or they could be pros who have done their research and are ready to dig into specific tactics.”

To clear up this drawback, sort out subjects in a spread of depths and ranges of expertise. It helps make sure you’re addressing their wants irrespective of when and the place they enter your model’s expertise. It permits them to discover your content material property on their phrases.

Ali’s ultimate advice – the content material playground framework – might help you do this.

Atlassian’s Ashley Faus first developed this narrative framework, presenting it as a technique to deal with the content material expertise as a playground: “People can enter and exit as they desire, they can go in any order, and they can engage with content ‘the wrong way.”

The mannequin divides content material into three classes:

  • Conceptual focuses on the how and why of the subject for these starting their explorations
  • Strategic focuses on processes, instruments, and elementary insights that place conceptual advantages and concepts in a sensible, relatable context
  • Tactical gives prescriptive, step-by-step steerage that helps the viewers implement related ideas and techniques

After figuring out the subjects to cowl in every of the three narratives, you map them to the content material varieties (e.g., textual content, movies, interactive, long-form, short-form, and many others.) and distribution channels and platforms you’ll use to share them.

You can discover a template for this in Ashley’s original presentation.

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Putting all of it collectively

You can map collectively all 5 frameworks into an insightful editorial calendar. Ali shared an instance of how this is perhaps laid out utilizing the B2B viewers wants she recognized above. (Download the free template on slide 23 of her presentation.)

The editorial calendar contains the following:

  • Publishing date
  • Sub-topic
  • Content title
  • Format
  • Target key phrase
  • Level of content material depth (strategic, conceptual, or tactical)
  • Audience want (greatest practices, enjoyment, data, solutions, assist) and focused persona

Walking by the columns on this editorial calendar helps you to clearly see a snapshot of what’s lacking. It can information your choices on what content material items to create subsequent to make sure you’re giving your viewers all the choices they’re in search of.

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Create a technique that clarifies content material wants and model alternatives

To enhance your content material advertising and marketing’s success, you need to construct your technique round the journey the viewers needs to take – not only one your model dictates for them. These 5 frameworks mixed have helped Ali construct a plan that helps that objective. Now it’s as much as you.

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Cover picture by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute