Planning and Pricing Content for Your Content Strategy

If you are in a position to be planning a content strategy, congratulations. You have your hands on the controls that can put your business on course for growth. There are a number of great tools out there that will help you develop marketing that can start generating leads.

You are probably familiar with them, but most are built around a process that can be boiled down to this:

The basic idea behind content marketing is that you make something of value and use it to create a relationship with potential clients.

This is a powerful equation. You broadcast your message and collect contacts for interested parties who have opted into your sales and marketing program. Content marketing is pretty cool.

When you are putting together your planning, you need to have good timelines and budgets. By “good” I mean realistic, achievable timelines and budgets. The critical, make or break part of the project is the first box on the left: content.

Unfortunately, many people in your position make dire mistakes in their timelines and budgets by underestimating what it takes to fill in that first box. If you ask around, you will hear tales of budgets busted, timelines extended, and projects completely abandoned when the organization can no longer tolerate the unexpected costs.

I hope that I can offer you some insight on content creation here that can help you conceive of a successful content strategy.

First, let me tell you how special you are. All projects have unique properties and opportunities to make content that achieves the goals. As a result, I can’t just tell you that filling that content box will take $3,000 and four weeks. You may have great resources that will allow you to create valuable funnel-stuffing material very quickly. Or, you may have a very demanding audience who needs highly crafted content to resonate.

Next, let me tell you that your situation is in no way unique. The content equation is solvable. You can find a way to make content that achieves the goal with the budget you have.

Realistic Timelines and Pricing

I will let you in on the secret to figuring the true cost of content and the timeline to create it. That secret is for a team to collectively look in the mirror and be completely honest about their capabilities. Understand that content creation is more than writing. It is a collaborative effort of a team. That collaboration takes time and skill.

What follows is an typical production for a content piece — be it white paper, e-book, infographic, or case study. I put this together by reviewing several past Lion’s Way projects.

  1. Scope definition and idea generation
  2. Stakeholder identification
  3. Writing draft 1
  4. Review by stakeholders
  5. Draft 2
  6. Review by stakeholders
  7. Finalize
  8. Approval by stakeholders
  9. Copy edit
  10. Design version 1
  11. Review by stakeholders
  12. Version 2
  13. Review by stakeholders
  14. Version 3
  15. Approval by stakeholders
  16. Publish.

Look how many times “stakeholders” are listed. Seven times. Each time, you can expect up to three days for feedback to come in. Did you work that in to your timeline?

As for budget, understand that all of those people have real costs to the company and the project.

Please don’t be daunted by this. The value of content marketing is great, and proven every day. Smart content creation is not budget busting or timeline busting if it is realistically planned. As with any business project, plugging in idealized numbers in order to get the project approved is just going to get you into hot water.

If you create a plan and realize that the cost is greater than you expected, you have an opportunity to gauge the value and potentially scale back to something achievable.

Definitely do something, don’t do nothing.

Content That is More Than a Checked Box

I am going to underline one more time that the equation is to find the maximum value for cost. This requires another moment of look-yourselves-in-the-mirror honesty. Make sure your content will actually resonate with your audience. The cheapest possible piece will invariably result in failure of the whole campaign.

One of the amazing parts of the content marketing revolution is that marketing efforts can be more measurable, more quantitative than ever before. We can show results, we can set goals and reach them. Leads, conversions, traffic, downloads. However, that means that a thinking human being looked at our content and found it meaningful enough to take the next step. There is a qualitative, human element to content strategy.

We have tools to build immensely valuable relationships with our prospects. A key step is honest, informed planning.

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