10 Tips for a Killer Content Marketing Plan (Part 1)

Posted on March 10, 2014


Don’t skip this introduction.

Introductions are notoriously boring and unenlightening. These ten tips, however, only make sense with this in mind:

Content marketing can preserve a franchise. 

Don’t believe me? Good. Skeptics learn faster than conformists. But I have four reasons for believing this.

For one, data shows a shift in lead generation. Take a look.

In short, customers research before they buy, making content your flag-post. Tell people you exist. Show them you’re trusting. Write good articles.

Two, content produced over the web is content shown to the world. More precisely, content with local keywords is content shown to your city. In short, content marketing enables direct access to locals.

Three, good content builds credibility. When you educate, clients find you. When you surprise them, clients come back. When you advertise, you’re burning money.

Four, unless the internet dies, your content will survive eternally.

Content marketing, then, preserves your franchise. With content, you constantly reach out to clients. With content, you educate and engender trust. With content, you make yourself look good.

Let’s now turn to some tips. How does one make a killer content marketing plan? Ladies and gentleman, proceed.

1. The Writer Himself: Be a Wordsmith

Writers are the executives of your content marketing strategy. They are your leaders, your brand representatives, your ambassadors.

But you don’t want just any writer. You want a good writer. Any writer can put words down, arrange them coherently, insert sense and thought, and call it an article. But a good writer does more.

A good writer is the artist of words, the engineer of phrases, the architect of texts and books and blogs. He knows the rules of grammar, violates them intentionally; has personality, manifests it vividly; knows language, executes it accordingly. Their  creations are infectious; they affect all who read them.

From Ben Franklin to John Steinbeck, America has conceived some of the best prose writers in the world. Let them be your guide, your source, your muse:

“There is nothing to writing.” says Hemingway. “All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

“Writers aren’t people exactly,” says Scott Fitzgerald. “Or, if they’re any good, they’re a lot of people trying so hard to be one person.”

“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.” —Jack Kerouac.

Good writers don’t need training. They need to be discovered and ignited.

Hire them wisely.

2. The Relentless Reader: Be Informed

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” —Stephen King.

Good writers are great readers. Never let that tip evade your strategy. On your laziest day, you read; on the day you forgot your glasses, you read; on the day your franchise marketing failed, you read.

If your blog specializes in a specific franchise, read articles on that franchise. If you’re a marketing guru, read blogs on franchise marketing. If your blog is about dogs, don’t read about gods. Read about dogs.

Why, you may ask, all the reading? For many reasons.

First, you need to stay informed. No one can breath in a vacuum. Neither can you survive without daily content saturation.

Second, you need to connect. Friendships start in subtle ways: comments on another blog may translate to comments returned. Indirectly, you invite bloggers to your blog. “I really enjoyed [this], because of [this].” “Great point, it really made me think of [x] and [y] and [x].”

Thirdly, reading makes the gears turn. No writer is inspired by reading his own writing, unless he’s Lord Byron or Narcissus. Seek inspiration, then, in other blogs.

Fourthly, reading encourages multiple perspectives. By reading three articles on franchise marketing, you now have three perspectives on that topic. Very well. Write a fourth.

3. The Creative Genius: Be Different

Many myths surround the “creative genius” motif. So let’s not add any more. More agree with the statement “I’m creative,” than “I’m a genius.” That’s okay. But let’s consider them as inseparable for the moment.

Many blogs say the same thing. The same thing. The thing of sameness. Same is the thing. Distracting? Very.

But that’s my point. Many blogs say the same thing in different ways.

What I urge is more radical. In fact, I encourage radical imagination. An imagination that sees sameness and breaks through it. An imagination that introduces complexity to an issue once thought settled.  An imagination fine-tuned to its culture, its society, its context.

That’s a creative genius; and that’s what you need.

4. The Editorial Calendar: Stay Organized

The last three dealt with the writer, the reader, and the genius. Now, let’s move away from the writer per se and toward organization. When organizing your franchise marketing around content, you need an editorial calendar.

What, you may ask, is an editorial calendar? Fancy you should ask! I snapped a photo of my own calendar for that very question.


Pay attention to my categories: Title, Keyword, Status, Audience, Writer, and Scheduled Post.

Obviously, these are published—I can’t give away all my secrets—but pay attention to each status. When the article is not finished, I show its condition: brainstorming, outline, draft, final draft, and finished.

An editorial calendar works well with many writers. Every writer chooses an article, sets a proposed date, and catalogues his progress. If an article is not finished, the staff knows who to ask. Simple, right?

Additionally,  the calendar shows keywords. Keywords keep an article focused. While some writers stuff keywords into every sentence—”franchise marketing is great and great is  franchise marketing,” like that—the best writers interweave keywords smoothly. So beware of keyword fever. It may [content market] against you.

5. Analytics Report: Stay Aware

I don’t like numbers. In fact, although I cited statistics earlier, I don’t like statistics either. Maybe it’s because I took four semesters of Calculus, or maybe it’s because I spent hours preparing a lecture for a MMA conference, or maybe I’m just showing off to prove I’m not totally ignorant of math. Numbers are just too confining. ‘nough said.

But analytics reports are different.

They aren’t just a bunch of numbers. Analytics reports are numbers that warrent interpretation.

No matter what your domain page, you should have an analytics tab. Sometimes found under “site stats,” sometimes under “numbers,” analytics tell you who visited your page, where they came from, how long they stayed, and what they clicked on.

Analytics pages are useful for obvious reasons: you can track your progress. You can see which articles receive the most attention, which ones sucked, and which ones need better headlines.

Now, don’t get addicted. If you spend an hour studying numbers, that’s one writing hour lost.

Wait, you said 10 tips?

I did, I did. And you will get your 10.

But tips without application are words that rapidly disappear.

Apply these 5 tips and return on Thursday to get the rest.


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