Still Feeling Lost? Download this Content Marketing Roadmap

In my last post, I introduced the idea of the Content Roadmap (please read that post first if you haven’t already). Also called an editorial calendar, it’s a tool we use to plan, organize, and schedule content marketing programs for our clients.

If you want to try using it yourself, I’ve made a handy Excel template you can download and customize.

(You might want to open it up and follow along as you read this post. If not, skip to the next paragraph for now.) As you can see, the Roadmap tells you what you’re going to accomplish every week, every month, every quarter, and every year. Along the top are the themes and messages we’ll focus on each quarter. Down the Y-axis you can see all the content and programs we’ll produce all year, broken out by category. Find where a specific row and column intersect, and you’ll see when each program will deploy. Simple.

Before I go any further, let’s address what we’re doing here, and why.

Think about the process you follow to create portfolios. You start by assessing your client’s needs, risk tolerance, time horizon, and goals. Then you start by filling in the big picture, which is typically the client’s asset allocation. Once that’s done, you drill down to sub-asset classes, and then to specific investment vehicles. Only after you go through this whole exercise are you finally ready to run out and buy ETFs.

That’s exactly the point of a Content Roadmap. It lets you drill down from your high-level strategic business and communications goals to the specific, in-the-trenches tactics that will get you there. It keeps you on track and makes every word count.

Now let’s dive into some of the variables you’ll need to think about as you fill in your Roadmap:

Business case

Why are you doing each specific project? To build awareness? Boost credibility? Get lukewarm leads to close? You need to keep this in mind while designing each campaign.

Audience

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ve already defined your ideal client personas. Specify which target segment will receive each message.

Messages

Make sure everything on your roadmap speaks directly to a client concern—or leave it out. Explicitly spell out the main point you want to make.

Seasonality

Financial services is a cyclical business with marked seasonal trends. Most notable is tax season, which starts in fall, then really ramps up from January through April. During those months, people’s minds are more open to information about taxes and investing. Identify all the seasonal trends that affect your business, then slot each theme and project into the appropriate period.

Distribution channel

Will you write a blog post? Email? Tweet? Mini-white paper? Favor shorter pieces, but don’t oversimplify everything. Most importantly, be multi-dimensional. Every blog post should have a corresponding social media plan to get the word out through Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.

Author

Assign an author to each piece. No task is ever completed without a name attached to it, although the name doesn’t always have to be yours.

Milestones and deadlines

If you set a deadline of “whenever,” your project will be accomplished “never.” Be aggressive but realistic.

Call to action

Make sure you’re closing the loop to some sort of call to action, form, or landing page to track effectiveness.

Expected outcomes

You’re doing this with a goal in mind, after all. How will you measure success? State the metrics you expect. Hard numbers are good. But don’t overlook benchmarks that are more difficult to quantify—like validating intellectual capital, nurturing clients, or shortening your year-end RMD calls from half an hour to five minutes.

Soon, content marketing will completely dominate the client acquisition process. Yet it’s still hard to find well-produced custom content from advisors. That leaves you a huge competitive opening. I hope our Content Roadmap can help you get your content marketing program moving—so you can head your competitors off at the pass.

DOWNLOAD THE TEMPLATE