PREPARE : Create a Content Strategy & Calendar
You need a content strategy. Winging it with your marketing might work OK, at least on the surface. For a short time. But randomness is wasteful, therefore expensive, since you’re reaching out to people who don’t care. And you’re sure to miss golden opportunities. On the other hand, advance planning provides focus and reduces the “what should we do next?” stress factor.
There’s more to creating really good content – stuff that is can’t-miss important to your target audiences – than simply passing out online literature. Content marketing helps establish your dealership’s authority, credibility and trustworthiness. Good targeting demonstrates you’re the go-to resource for information and sound advice. But you have to be strategic.
Creating a content strategy is no different than the planning you to do manage the rest of your dealership’s business activities. You’ll want to consider your overall business goals and your marketing objectives, but content marketing should focus primarily on your target audience:
- Who are your key customer segments?
- What are their biggest business challenges?
- What do they need to address those challenges, and how can you help them?
- How do they search online for information – what keywords do they use, and what formats appeal to them?
- Where do they search – blogs, social media, forums, specific websites?
- What differentiates you from your competition?
- What information about each prospect do you need to capture to effectively rank leads and assist your sales reps?
Armed with all that information, you can determine what content topics and offers will be most valuable, what distribution channels you’ll want to concentrate on and whether you’ll want to rely most on text-based content, video, etc. In truth, your strategy will incorporate a mix of all these options, because your audience has different learning styles and preferences.
Get your staff together and hold a content brainstorming session to create a list of topics.
An editorial calendar pulls it all together.All publishers use an editorial calendar. It ensures that you’re rotating topics aimed at different segments of your audience, so there’s frequently something interesting and valuable for everyone. It allows you to plan ahead. You can schedule around specific marketing promotions, and you’ll remember to create content that capitalizes on seasonal or other special activities your dealership hosts or participates in.
The people writing your articles, creating your infographics or producing your videos will have defined submission deadlines, which makes their work easier. Be sure the deadlines are far enough in advance for your marketing team’s content expert to review each piece for consistency of tone and style before it’s posted.
Rough out your calendar for the entire year, noting known campaigns and activities. Then flesh it out for at least a couple of weeks – a month or two will make you more comfortable – penciling in topics from your content brainstorming session.
Intermingle time-sensitive and timeless content to stay flexible. If something important comes up that you need to address with your audience right away, you can simply replace a scheduled post that isn’t as timely with the new content, using the originally-scheduled material later on.
Sound content strategy gives your various audiences exactly what they want and need, when and where they’re looking for it. It confirms you’re a thought leader in your field and a reliable working partner for your customers. Your editorial calendar keeps your content marketing on topic and on pace. And regularly comparing your results to your goals keeps your content marketing program on track. Focused on your customers. Building sales and profitability.