Text: Michele Linn

It’s tough to know what to do when getting started with content marketing. What’s essential, and what’s nice to have? Here’s my list of five things every content marketer needs.

Listening Posts
You need be monitoring—and participating in—conversations about your topic area. I like this post from Trackur that lists the 12 critical keywords you should monitor:

  • Your personal name
  • Your company name
  • Your product brands
  • Your CEO (and other execs)
  • Your media spokesperson
  • Your marketing message
  • Your competition
  • Your industry
  • Your known weakness
  • Your business partners
  • Your clients’ news
  • Your intellectual property

Once you have that list, set up a few ways to monitor these keywords. Google Alerts is one common way, but you can also use services such as SocialMention and Trackur.

Buyer persona
One of the basic tenants of content marketing is you need to be constantly thinking about the needs of your buyer– which may be different than needs of your company. Of course, this means you need to understand who your buyer is.  Develop buyer personas for your key buyer(s) to help you think through the essentials. I like to use the template developed by Barbra Gago. Even if you can’t fill this in completely, it’s a great way to get the gears turning.

Website
I think all businesses need a web presence as buyers will undoubtedly be searching for you. As Dianna Huff so aptly explains, “B2B marketers and business owners really need to ensure that their sites are up to snuff before beginning a social media campaign or developing a content strategy because the website needs to support these activities in order for them to be successful.”

Your website doesn’t need to be complicated, but it should provide basics on your product or service, and, if possible, a call-to-action for some content (see below).

Consistent content
I am a firm believer in publishing regular content, and I often refer to this content marketing plan from Russell Sparkman that provides suggestions on what content you can publish daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, bi-annually and annually.  Take note: This is an ideal plan that many marketers, especially those who are starting out, are not going to be able to accomplish, but it’s a good framework you can work towards. Whatever you decide to do, have an editorial calendar to help you plan.

Collaboration
When people talk about the “ins and outs” of content marketing, one thing I often think is overlooked in the power of collaboration. I think it’s very tough, if not impossible, to develop and maintain a content marketing program in a bubble.

While it’s relatively easy to brainstorm if you are part of a large organization, it’s equally as essential if you are part of a one-person business. Look for others in your industry with whom you can get feedback (I have found marketers in this space to be very willing to share ideas). At the very least, it’s critical for you to have someone who proofreads all of your content before it goes live.

There are a lot of “nice to have” things when getting started with content marketing, but what other “need to have” things would you add to the list above?

Michele Linn is the Content Development Director of the Content Marketing Institute where she works with a fabulous group of contributors who know a lot about content marketing. She’s also a B2B content marketing consultant who has a passion for helping companies use content to connect with their ideal buyers. You can follow her onTwitter @michelelinn or read more of her posts on Savvy B2B.

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