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The ultimate content development checklist

Stacie Susens, director of corporate marketing and PR, Kenshoo

With B2B buyers spending more time researching online before making a purchase decision or issuing a request for proposal (RFP), it's critical to take steps toward marketing automation. Many things go into bringing marketing automation into your organization and, unfortunately, it's not as easy as just picking the right technology partner.

Along the path to automation, there are many potholes that can derail you from achieving automation and scale. One of these potholes is lack of content resources and, this month, I'd like to focus on ways to be efficient and effective in creating content.

It's not enough to create content for the sake of content. It needs to be relevant and compelling enough to draw people in, keep them engaged, and ideally take a desired action. As all marketers know, creating content takes time and resources. With these being precious and limited, here's the ultimate checklist that can guide your priorities and provide you with impactful output.

  1. Define your current goal(s).
  2. As a marketing team, I'm sure you have established overarching goals in order to measure your success. This could be anything from improving marketing's overall contribution to new business revenue to marketing's contribution to customer loyalty and lifetime value. Along the journey to reaching these higher-level goals, milestones will need to be set to ensure progress. These types of milestones may be to collect more data to better qualify leads, help move leads from one stage of the funnel to the next, etc. Having clear goals for what you are trying to achieve today will help you focus and better gauge content needs.

  3. Understand your target audience.
  4. Before you start creating content, understand who the message is intended to reach. Are they interested in tactics or strategy? What are their goals and challenges? What industries are they in? Answering these types of questions will help you write with a clear picture of who you are trying to reach. Doing this after you have started to work on your content piece – whether it's a whitepaper, ebook, infographic, or email – can cause you to spend more time fixing what you created to get the right message across.

  5. Understand your target's state of mind
  6. Once you have a solid picture of who you are trying to target, make sure you clearly understand their state of mind. What stage of the buying process are they in? Are they coming into an important time of year for their business? Answering these types of questions will help your message be more relevant and timely. You may have a great story but, if it's not very relevant, it may not be noticed.

  7. Outline key themes.
  8. Now it's time to start brainstorming the key themes that will help you reach your intended audience and milestones. Be sure to include others at this stage and discuss items one through four of this checklist. Input should come from the person(s) who will be running the campaigns, sales or client service, your content development resources, and potentially product teams, as well. This will encourage all thoughts and ideas to be laid out and help get everyone on the same page. If this comes in the end, you may end up wasting time trying to incorporate last-minute feedback and ideas.

  9. Determine your call-to-action.
  10. After you settle on a key theme for your messaging, figure out what calls to action are needed in order to reach your milestones. Download? Register? Learn More? Watch Now? Time to chat? Thinking through to the actual action will help you determine the appropriate format(s) for your content. And knowing this will help you plan out the appropriate resources.

  11. Take inventory of your content.
  12. Now that you have some solid direction for your content development, check your content inventory! Content doesn't need to be created from scratch for every campaign or initiative. Whitepapers, testimonials, webinars, etc. can all be repurposed and turned into different formats. So do your due diligence and check to see if you already have assets to get you started before you dedicate your time and resources in developing new content.

When you start planning your next marketing campaign and need to scope content development, I hope this checklist will help you come up with an efficient plan.

This article originally appeared on ClickZ and is used here with permission.

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