Carla Johnson , Author. Speaker. Storyteller.

“Planning involves thinking about what you want to accomplish before you make decisions about format. You first have to really understand what audience you are targeting and what you want them to do.”

A plan enables you to select the best ideas that serve the objective and provide focus on those best ideas. Without the focus that a plan provides, people’s attention becomes scattered, which causes work to progress more slowly. By choosing one, two, or at most three of the best ideas and focusing on those for a short period of time to execute them really well, you can be more agile in making necessary adjustments as you go through the process. In an agile process, you create and adjust, create and adjust, create and adjust. That process often results in something very different from where it started, but it’s a much better final product.

Planning also involves thinking more about format, which requires really understanding what audience you are targeting and what you want them to do. Again, this goes back to your original objectives. There’s a linear decision process about getting to format, but many marketers jump to the format before they understand what they’re trying to accomplish. Once they understand audiences and audience priorities, that dictates format. Defaulting to format too early in the process results in teams doing what they’ve always done because that’s what they know.

Another important part of planning is deciding what to measure to determine if the content is working. There are many things you can measure. The metrics you select depend on what part of the funnel and customer journey that content is targeting. As you think about what you are measuring, you also need to maintain that agile mindset of creating and adjusting.

Unfortunately, 70% of all content that’s created for sales is never even used. A big part of that is because marketers default to the formats they’ve always used. Developing inspired content that serves the objectives requires spending more time up front getting the ideas and planning right. Doing that ensures the content you do create is better quality and someone will actually use it. 

This is an excerpt from 7 Experts on Using the Content Lifecycle to Maximize Content ROI. The eBook was generously sponsored by Aprimo.