When done right, content marketing can be one of the most beneficial things in which you can invest these days.
Depending on your target market and on your marketing/sales goals, of course.
Throughout this post, we are going to walk you through how you can create your own valuable content marketing plan, but first, we are going to tell you what content marketing is not:
- It is not a random or arbitrary act.
- It is not blogging for the sake of blogging.
- It is not adding page after page to a website stuffed with keywords.
- It is not simply posting something when you have the time.
Content marketing always has a purpose, and if it doesn’t, then you’re doing it wrong!
Now that we know what content marketing isn’t (and a little bit about what it is), let’s learn some more about it, starting with these two questions that a lot of you are probably asking yourselves:
- What the heck is “content marketing”?
- Why is it so great?
Content marketing is creating and publishing content with the goal of attracting and engaging with a certain target audience.
Everything in a content marketing plan should have a purpose or a goal, and there might be several goals behind a content marketing plan. For example:
- Drive targeted traffic to a specific place
- Engage with a target group of consumers
- Collect subscribers to engage with consumers
- Drive a target group of consumers to certain places online
- Keep a target group of consumers in certain places online
- Increase sales inquiries via targeted online engagement
Essentially, a great content plan will attract a certain target market to your website, keep that target market on your website or online storefront for a prolonged period of time and eventually, make them take some sort of action (i.e., go to the “Contact” page, “Like” your company on Facebook, submit an online sales inquiry or even place an online order).
That sounds easy enough, right?
There are a lot of challenges many caterers (and businesses) face when trying to put together and execute a great content marketing plan.
The majority of the time, this happens because people often severely underestimate what goes into a successful content marketing plan.
- You have to be very well versed on and capable of successfully producing a content plan.
- You have to understand that posting a blog every month isn’t enough to qualify as a “successful content marketing plan.”
- You have to understand your target market.
- You have to know how to write for SEO and write for your target market.
- You have to know what your target market is looking for, what words drive them to act, how and when to target based on geography and how and when to target “other” visitors.
- You have to know who your target market is.
- You have to know the right ways to promote your content.
- You have to know how to write compelling content and utilize appropriate images.
There are many things that go into content marketing, and the above list is just the beginning. Sometimes, it’s beyond a business owner’s or business leader’s skills. Other times, it ends up falling onto the backburner and never receives the proper time and attention.
There are no secrets or shortcuts when it comes to content marketing plans.
You research what should work, you put in the time to do it right, you promote it appropriately, and you form support content that strengthens your original work.
Then you lather, rinse and repeat.
In fact, here is a list of some of the tactics behind a successful content marketing plan:
- Articles and posts
- Email blasts
- Social media promotion
- “Menu release”
- Local pages
- Features on home page
- Features on specific menu page
- Top SEO practices (when applicable)
- Top copywriting practices (when applicable)
Oh boy, you’re probably thinking. Why should I invest in something that looks so complex?
Hang on, we’ll tell you.
Why You Should Invest in Something (that Looks so Complex)
Fortunately, it’s not as overwhelming as it might seem and isn’t too complex to explain. Sure, that’s a lot of tactics, but they all work together—and the more you have working together, the more effective your plan!
(Remember how much better your branding is when every element works together? We marketers love to integrate!)
The best way to share with you how all of the above work together is through example.
Catering Content Marketing Plans in Action
Below you will find an example of a content plan we created, executed and promoted for one of our clients. Let’s call this client “ABC Catering,” and let’s say the service that ABC Catering wishes to promote is picnics.
The plan was broken up into parts, the first being the actual content.
The content portion of the plan involves creation of the actual content. This is based on a few different things, starting by researching the target market (based on, in this case, picnic clients).
Starting with this concept, we created a master content plan of articles to research, write, publish and promote.
Good content plans might take on a variety of strategies depending on the market, the target client and a few other factors. This plan in particular involved a combination of 15 of the following articles:
- Main Article(s)
- Primary Article(s)
- Secondary/Support Article(s)
Based on the market research, we balanced the best SEO and copywriting practices to come up with interesting, compelling and well-ranking articles, each with photos and graphics designed in-house.
The main article was the biggie; the kind of post that would generate a lot of organic search traffic. The remainder of the articles supported the main article with less heavy-hitting (though still relevant) keywords.
Scaling back, we had a second tier: the primary posts. These posts were the first layer of support for that main article.
Finally, we concluded with a lot of secondary posts to fit more specific needs (i.e., hit more specific targeted keywords) as well as supported both the primary articles and the main article.
Promoting Your New Content
Part two of your content plan involves scheduling and promotion.
Using long-developed (yet ever-evolving) best practices, we followed our plan to create and then our plan to promote.
There are endless amounts of ways to promote your newly published content. Here are a few of the ways we promoted ABC Catering’s weekly to biweekly articles:
BONUS: Make the Most of Your Posts
We took into consideration some of ABC Catering’s goals and used several of these articles as a way to feature and promote those key relationships (venues, vendors, planners, etc.).
We also created content that we could share with clients and potential clients as a way of checking in with them and giving them usable content.
Bonus Reason #1 for a Great Content Plan: Venue Relationships
Many of these venues had set up their own Google Analytics accounts, so when they analyzed their own website traffic and saw a significant increase in website hits coming from ABC Catering’s website, the relationship between those venues and ABC Catering strengthened.
Bonus Reason #2 for a Great Content Plan: Social Media Strength
Social media also played a role, as we designed several of our article graphics to fit Pinterest, in particular.
The growth in social followers and interaction skyrocketed now that ABC Catering had interesting content to share. One of ABC Catering’s accounts now boasts over 15,000 followers!
Bonus Reason #3 for a Great Content Plan: Direct Sharing with Clients
Since several of the article topics came directly from ABC Catering sales staff (we asked them where they were running into problems with their sales process and what article topics would help move their prospects along quicker), they were able to send their clients several of the articles directly.
This sparked immediate conversation as well as cleared up many issues and questions before they became issues or questions. Clients went from proposal to contract faster, in addition to having more inquiries for proposals in the first place.
Results, Results, Results!
Part three (the final piece) involves analyzing your results. What worked? How can you use that information in future content marketing plans?
Overall, it took three months to get every article created and posted on ABC Catering’s website, and the promotion for each article went on for over a month after that.
Now, we just walked you through “ABC Catering’s Content Plan,” but here are actual tangible results for one of our clients. We conducted a picnic-based content campaign. Here are the impressive results.
See it in action:
BONUS: Timing Matters, Big Time
Traffic increased immediately with the publication of each post, however, the most drastic increases for related key terms (i.e. picnic catering in [city], picnic caterers, etc.) came several months after each post was published.
Because of the way Google crawls articles and content, most posts don’t hit their peak until at least three (3) months after they’re published.
It takes a little time for new content to gain traction, which is why the smartest content plans take that lag time into consideration.
For example, even though you are knee-deep in picnic season, if you’re not already publishing holiday party content, there’s a chance your content won’t be as effective come September when all the executive assistants, admins and HR representatives are beginning the holiday party planning process!
We’re going to end this article with one of the original important sentences we shared with you at the beginning:
Content marketing always has a purpose, and if it doesn’t, then you’re doing it wrong!
Begin with a purpose and make it fulfill one (or more) of your brand’s goals. When harnessed properly, content plans can have a tremendous impact on your business and your brand.
If you have specific questions, we would be happy to answer them for you. In fact, we will even share the specific facts and figures for our content plan catering plan clients. Give us a shout, and have your questions ready.
And if you only take one thing away from this entire article, take this away:
Great content plans increase business.