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Content Marketing 101: The 5 Phases of Content Marketing

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October 3,2012

 By Pamela Muldoon, Next Stage Media Group

There is one mistake I see so many small businesses make when it comes to marketing their business online. They start the marketing process in the middle. I believe that content marketing is actually a 5-Step Process.   For example, many of you reading this have decided to “do social media” as part of your online marketing, but I challenge you to take a couple of steps back and relook at how this can work better for you. 
5 Phases of Content Marketing
Phase One: Planning 
The Planning Phase is to set the end result you want to achieve in your business from the content process. This first step will connect the dots to your overall strategic plan for your business; what are the goals you want to achieve? 
Example: increase revenue by 20% overall; decrease customer service calls by 25% overall; increase qualified leads by 10% monthly. By understanding what the overall business needs to achieve, marketing can better focus on these initiatives within the content marketing process. Planning will also ensure your content is speaking to the right people. Who is your target audience(s)? What are their problems? How do you solve them? Documenting your buyer personas and how your content can engage with them is critical to starting off right with your content marketing plan.
Phase Two: Choosing
Choosing the right marketing strategies is key. How your target audience takes in the information that comes from your industry will lead you to the right content strategies. From choosing the social media platforms that make the most sense, to connecting your content with your sales process, you will be more confident that your content is in the right place. You’ve been considering an eBook as the perfect content strategy for your business but you realize from the planning phase that your audience is not one who normally downloads eBooks. Perhaps time and money is better spent developing a White Paper to use as part of your sales process to convert interested buyers into paying clients.
Phase Three: Implementation
You’ve chosen the content strategies that make the most sense, now it’s time to implement. Marketing is not about you, it’s about your target audience. It has been decided that a blog is a great strategy for your company, but you are not a writer. Then it’s time to talk about who will be. Consistency is crucial with content. Ensure you are putting the right person(s) in place will successfully represent your brand and put your best voice forward. Set up an editorial calendar with blog ideas for the next 90 days to also ensure consistent implementation. 
Phase Four: Promoting
If you write it, record it, videotape it, they may still not come. You really do need to take a Content Marketing 360 approach to what you are doing. This is where leverage comes in. What strategies are you already using that can be used to promote your content marketing efforts? What traditional marketing strategies can you use to drive traffic to your content? How can you best leverage digital strategies to do the same?  Too often we implement but don’t promote. 
Phase Five: Tracking
This is where you connect your content marketing efforts to your overall strategic benchmarks. By knowing what your intentions are with your content marketing, you can set up systems to collect data on how your content is connecting with your qualified target audience. Tracking leads, driving traffic, monitoring engagement, awareness and influence, as well as working with your sales staff on the conversions through your sales process. Engaging in this phase is where the combination of data and instinct tell the real story of your content marketing efforts.
Set yourself up for success with your content marketing. Breaking the process down into the 5 Phases may be just what you need get your content marketing efforts off the ground and on their way! 


Pamela Muldoon is Principal of Next Stage Media Group and the Host of Content Marketing 360 Radio Show.  Follow Pamela at @pamelamuldoon.

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