There’s nothing worse for a content team than pouring your heart and soul into a fabulous new piece of content only to see it left to gather digital dust in the corporate blog archive after publishing.
It’s a terrible waste of time, an ineffective use of talent and saps morale for all involved.
How to avoid this?
Well, for us the first step is to produce less content. As I argued at the start of the year, less-is-more when it comes to your content. One of the reasons for this is less wasted effort and a greater focus on the work commissioned.
Step two is to include the distribution plan within the content creation process. We call this ‘editorial-led distribution’.
Step three, which I’d like to talk you through today, is how you manage your content marketing campaigns. What follows will not be new to many of the experienced marketing directors on this mailing list. My hope is that it serves as a timely reminder to not skip the basics. And for those who haven’t run many campaigns this should be very useful indeed.
SOSTAC for content marketing
There are many models and frameworks for managing thought leadership campaigns. The one I would like to talk about is the SOSTAC model.
The SOSTAC model was first introduced to me by our clients The Marketing Centre. I’ve seen it used as a framework for a businesses overall marketing strategy and shorter, one-off campaigns. If this is totally new to you I highly recommend theirmarketing theory for non-marketers guide as weekend reading.
I’ve found that I keep turning to the SOSTAC model with clients over the last few months. It’s worked well. Kept things simple. Clients have found it helpful to see their content campaign mapped out in this way so I figured it would be useful for some of our subscribers to run through the process here.
What’s going on with the business? Perhaps lockdown has wiped out half of your business or a new opportunity has arisen? Why are you investing in this thought leadership campaign? This is the space for the overview of why you’re investing in this program.
Are you looking to re-engage old clients or cold leads? Targeting a new sector or launching a new product? Is it new accounts that you’re targeting, or increased deal size? Perhaps reduced churn is the key metric? This is the space for your top level objectives.
As I’ve written in the past, strategy is a fat word. It has lots of different meanings to different people. People get very hung up on the word. In this context, we’re not bothered about the ideological purity of what a strategy or a channel is. We want to be pragmatic.
For example, Linkedin is a channel but here I put it under ‘strategy’ if our approach to Linkedin is sufficiently different from other social channels. I may even have two linkedin ‘strategies’ - one for advertising and the other for organic growth. My point is, don’t get hung up on if something is a channel or a strategy - just do what makes sense.
Some example “strategies” from recent client campaign planning...
- Thought leadership content
- Outbound email marketing
- Social media advertising
- New service development
- Cold leads
In the strategies section I include a paragraph explaining why we’re going to do it and how it will help achieve “objectives”
In this section you break down the strategies into tactics. If you’re targeting cold leads it might look like this…
- Get list of cold leads over past three years
- Segment by sector
- Create email nurture sequence for each sector
Repeat this for each of your strategies. Tip: don’t get too granular here.
In this section you take the steps outlined in tactics and turn them into actionable steps. Personally, I’ve given up on spreadsheet Gantt charts unless someone else is prepared to maintain them. I find a Trello board does the job far better.
Control/metrics/reports. This is where you set your targets for the campaign. To finish the example plan. How many cold leads do you need to reach, how many enquiries, how many new deals, how much revenue? Put those numbers in here and report back.
In terms of managing the process I think you have to have a weekly meeting. Things just get lost over slack and a weekly meeting provides momentum and catches mistakes (they do happen) early.
I’d love to hear how you manage your content campaigns. It’s my experience that the content marketing community is a good one - we’re all trying to create as much value as we can. But we work in a surprisingly complex environment, so I think it’s our duty to try and help each other out to be more efficient and create better, more effective content.