This used to be my content planning strategy:
Hmm, my blog article is due today. What do I want to write about...?
So, basically, I had no content planning strategy.
But effective content isn’t just thrown together at the last minute. In order to attract the right audience, content needs to be planned ahead of time around specific goals.
Why is content planning important?
- Relieves the stress of scrambling for writing ideas
- Allows content to align with marketing campaigns and initiatives to accomplish specific goals
- Helps create a consistent publishing schedule
- Allows you to more easily consider your buyer personas’ needs
The content planning strategy that makes life easier
Ever since I discovered this content planning strategy, I haven’t looked back. It’s called the hub and spoke content model, and it’s one of the most effective ways to ensure that your content is aligned with your buyer personas’ needs.
The idea behind the hub and spoke content model is that you create a valuable piece of long-form content, such as an eBook, tip sheet whitepaper, etc., that serves as a downloadable content offer for your buyer personas. Then, you support that piece of long-form content with relevant blog articles and other content. Here is a basic visual overview of what this looks like:
Why this content model rocks
The reason I love the hub and spoke content model so much is because, instead of simply planning content, the hub and spoke allows you to plan conversion paths. Ultimately, you want website visitors to become contacts by downloading your piece of long-form content. In order to help them find value in the long-form content, you post helpful blog articles. And in order to help your buyer personas find those blog articles, you create social media messages to promote your content.
The hub and spoke model gets you thinking about all of those pieces at once, so you can easily plan content campaigns that are based around specific goals.
How to plan content with the hub and spoke model
Decide on your timeframe
The first thing to do when creating a hub and spoke for your company’s marketing is to decide on a timeframe for your content calendar. Quarterly and monthly calendars are the most common for this type of strategy. For a basic strategy, I recommend planning one piece of long-form content per quarter with one supporting blog article per week. For a more aggressive approach, go with one piece of long-form content per month with at least three blog posts per week.
Brainstorm the hub
Decide on titles and topics for your long-form content pieces. These will be resources on your company’s website that visitors will need to provide information (name, email address, etc.) in order to download, so be sure the topics are as relevant, helpful and educational as possible. Examples of good “hub” content include eBooks, case studies, and whitepapers.
Remember to brainstorm content ideas that align with different stages of the buyer’s journey. Some visitors to your website will be learning about your company for the first time; others will be looking for resources to help them make a purchasing decision.
Brainstorm the spokes
A great way to come up with blog topics is to break down the sections of your long-form content into individual posts. This helps you create a content series that’s relevant to your audience (and becomes easier for you to post!) However, spokes aren’t limited to just blog articles and social media posts. Other examples of spokes include SlideShare presentations, infographics, interviews, or videos.
Fill in your calendar
Depending on the timeframe you chose, fill in your marketing calendar with your long-form content and supporting blog articles, social media posts, etc. Be realistic about your timeframes, especially when it comes to creating long-form content offers. Remember that it’s more than writing and designing an eBook or whitepaper; there are other elements such as landing page and call-to-action creation to consider.
Instead of wondering what to write about every week, take a smarter approach to content planning. Most companies have so much knowledge to share with their audience, it can be hard to narrow the focus. The hub and spoke content model helps you plan content and conversion paths that align with overall marketing goals so that your content works as hard as possible.