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Five Essentials For Your 2016 Content Marketing Plan While looking ahead to 2016, don't forget to think about a content marketing plan that will serve to highlight your company's expertise.

By Cheryl Tan

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Many businesses are slowing down at this time of year, which makes it the perfect opportunity to plan ahead.

While looking ahead to 2016, you may be creating a strategy that encompasses ad buys, media mentions, and customer appreciation events. But don't forget to think about a content marketing plan that will serve to highlight your company's expertise.

Why is this important?

Nothing will replace a face-to-face connection. But, more often than not these days, a potential buyer will search you out in Google before stepping foot in your store. That's why, in 2016, it will be more important than ever to create easily accessible information so potential customers can learn everything they need to know about you, your products, services, and business philosophy before they pick up the phone or walk in the door.

What kind of content should you create? Consider the following essential points when planning out your strategy in the new year:

1. What are your content goals?

Yes, creating content for your business is critically important. But before you head down this path, determine what you want to achieve from a good content plan. It's a lot of work, so figure out what results you want from the content before you create it. Do you want more local customers, do you want to be seen an as expert in your industry, or do you want more signups to your newsletter? And this is critical- how will this new exposure turn into paying customers?

2. Who is your customer?

As much as we want everyone to love us (and everything we sell), you have an ideal customer. Take a good hard luck and figure out who this person is. Are you trying to reach young couples, single moms, or retirees? Determine who your ideal client is and know everything you can about that person's desires.

3. Where do they go to get information?

Where does your potential client show up to get information? Are they active on social media? Do they read the newspaper? Watch TV? What can you do to show up in the same places they are? Once you create your content, place your content in the locations where your buyers hang out.

4. Pick a format that makes sense for your staff and for your audience.

Podcasts are exploding in popularity, but is that where you will find your target market? How about video tutorials? Does your audience engage with them? Maybe the written word is the best bet. Determine this: will you create your own audio in a podcast, put together a series of videos on your product, or create a blog with consistent, informative articles? Maybe you decide on all of the above. Plan for that, too. And put it on the calendar so you are sure to finish the project.

5. Create content that speaks to your clients and customers.

There's a lot of information on the Internet these days. You may wonder why it's important to add your views to the mix. With so much noise out there, it's critical your voice is there to represent your company's values and beliefs.

To figure out what kind of content to create, picture your ideal client. Start by writing down 10 ideas. Those ideas will take your buyer on a journey. Imagine that buyer coming into your business knowing nothing. What does that buyer need to know to become knowledgeable about your field? What trends are happening in your industry? What are the rules of doing business in your office? Write down article subjects related to what they need to know about your product or service.

You can also create content responding to the questions you get over and over from current customers.

Once you have potential article topics, plot those topics on a calendar. Then sit down and write your article, record the podcast, create the video. Deliver that content consistently and by the end of the year, you will have a bank of articles, videos, or podcasts that will be a valuable resource for current customers and ones that come around in the future.

The best way to get in front of new clients is to show what you know through the content you create.
Cheryl Tan

Founder, Tan Media LLC

Cheryl Tan is the founder of Tan Media LLC, a media strategy consulting company based in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Get more media & marketing tips at CherylTanMedia.com.

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