Content creation is a part of the strategic marketing approach for any business, focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, timely and consistent content to attract and retain your defined audience — ultimately leading a customer through the path to conversion. 

We know that great marketing campaign content doesn’t just appear out of nowhere. Content for use across the breadth of channels requires discovery work, planning, research, more planning, creating and then execution across multiple channels.

Let’s be real. Creating content is time-consuming and requires strategic guidance.

Read on, for our 5 critical insights that form the ultimate guide to making it happen. 

If, at the end of this, you’re looking for further guidance, enlisting the help of a VMM will provide senior marketing leadership and strategy. In addition, you’ll have access to UX/UI Designers, Content Producers and Graphic Designers to help with the process. To find out more about how a VMM can help with your content strategy, click here

Cutting to the chase, here are our top 5 steps to planning your content strategy.

1. Understand your customer funnel

The marketing/sales funnel is essentially a broad-based term that describes the buyer’s decision-making journey. This is typically a 5-stage funnel which identifies the marketing touch points required to move a prospect through the funnel. Utilising this funnel structure will help you to identify what types of content are required and for what purpose.

Here is an example of a typical user funnel we have created:

NB: the types of content which may be required at each stage of the user funnel.

2. Create a Content Plan

Your strategy will not succeed without a plan. It is as simple as that.

Spend a day, a week, or even a month, nutting out exactly what types of content are required to meet the requirements of the marketing channels within the funnel. This may include:

- Images
- Blogs
- Videos/GIFs
- Infographics
- Case Studies
- eBooks
- Checklists
- Interviews

Following this, you might like to come up with your monthly themes/offers/focus pillars. This will help you build structure into your plan and also help to categorise what is required. In a Google sheet or Excel document, you can then plan out what the key objective is for each month. You should include:

- Name of month
- Creative inspiration. TIP - Make friends with Canva and create a mood board
- Hero theme/offer/focus pillar
- Models/products/otems required
- Theming/style
- Assets required: imagery, video, blogs etc. 
- Channels: organic and paid social, email marketing, in-store materials, PR etc.
- Number and type of images per channel - don't forget to outline the specifications (size, format, resolution). If in doubt, ask us.

3. Create a brief and lock it in

Even if you have a killer photographer or graphic designer in mind already, final creative is only as good as the brief.

Create a quality brief that leaves no room for confusion. Specify exact objectives of the photo or video shoot and outline clear goals for the overall project or campaign. 

- Clarify the roles of people and items in the images
- Share your mood board
- Photoshoot details – time, date and locations (and sub locations/areas), parking, meals
- Additional props/items to bring
- Think through and define the image usage - be specific
- Agree on a delivery date for final image files
- Agree on asset management - ensure to create a logical folder to place all the assets for selection and final selects
- Detail the payment procedure

Once your photographer/videographer is locked in, we would highly recommend walking through all of the elements above to ensure you are both on the same page. After the shoot is complete and the assets have been delivered, it is now about putting this new content into a calendar, based on your Content Plan above, so it can be utilised to your best advantage.

So what can all this look like? Here is a showcase of some of the final shots we created for two of our clients this month.

Below we have images from our client The Parlour Room’s collaboration with iconic photographer Chantelle Kemkemian.

ask Marketing X The Parlour Room X Chantelle Kemkemian

Click here to read the complete TPR Case Study

Below are a selection of shots taken for another of our clients, CobbleWorks by photographer Megann Evans

ask Marketing X CobbleWorks X Megann Evans

Click here to read our case study with CobbleWorks. Learn more about how we work and some of the successes our brand content strategy has brought to the business.

Already have a collection of branded assets (imagery, videos etc.) and don’t think you need a photo or video shoot? Look at all the assets you have. And think about how they can be utilised throughout the phases of the marketing funnel and across multiple channels. Then, do your research to understand what makes the best performing content across each channel and work with a Graphic Designer to create assets based on these best performance principles. Articles including: the best Facebook ad examples and the best organic Instagram content for conversion are two great pieces of informative content to get you started with this!

4. Content = Future Data

Great quality content has the power to turn eyes and engage audiences. But, this content is only worthwhile if the person managing it knows how it is working. It needs to be constantly analysed and iterated on from week to week, month to month. This may be a simple tweak of colour, animation or CTA, but the bottom line is, a content strategy will never be set and forget.

We must constantly monitor, track, watch and report on the engagement metrics, in order to refine and adjust towards better conversions. Continually testing what you’re doing is how you’ll get a solid idea about your audience’s preferences, interests and purchasing behaviour. You need to know how well your content is performing in order to make it to the next step of the conversion process.

5. The importance of creating content in Real Time

Whilst planning content is an important part of your marketing strategy, content needs to be created all the time and in real time. Find a balance between using the planned, professional content and the content you create yourself, everyday. Real time, authentic, organic and everyday content is important for social channels (particularly Instagram). People need to see brand authenticity that often comes in the form of ad-hoc, unrehearsed and unplanned content.

Some helpful tools for enhancing unplanned content include Canva (just like a canvas, with hundreds of templates for all social channels), Vimage (great for cinemagraphs), Unfold (for great templates), Lightroom (a quick and simple photo editor tool) and Grammarly (grammar editor for making sure there are no typo’s). 

To learn more about next-generation marketing, current trends, insights and practical tips for your business. Follow us on LinkedIn today.

Alexandra King

Ali has a proven track record of aligning with commercial business objectives and translating research into key insights that result in exceptional marketing strategies, online user experiences and positive financial results.