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How to Effectively Manage Your Content Planning Process

8 min read

As one of the few DC comic superheroes who lacks superpowers, it would be impossible for Bruce Wayne, a.k.a. Batman, to effectively protect Gotham’s citizens and do the impossible without his trusted team of specialists and impressive lineup of tools. Effective content planning isn’t so different. Simple words on a page can become your organization’s most valuable asset, with proper utilization of your team and the right tools to help you reach your goals.

What is a content plan?

A content plan describes all marketing assets and data-related functions needed to accomplish your content strategy’s goals. This includes anything from SEO research and engagement tracking to writing whitepapers and blogging. 

When it comes to these assets, hitting home with your audience is a result of detailed audience analysis and examining how your content supports your overall brand.

What is the difference between a content plan and content strategy?

People often confuse content planning with content strategy. Content strategy—to make the distinction—is the strategy crafted to reach your business goals by using your content as a primary means to achieve them. 

Essentially, your content plan is a building block of your content strategy. This focused effort is worth the elbow grease. In fact, 70 percent of marketers actively invest in content marketing, so if you want to compete in your industry, it’s not a bad idea. While content is clearly critical, any content strategy cannot be executed without an organized and sustainable content plan and workflow to match.

Which industries need content planning?

Any business that seeks to engage its audience and stand out in the crowd from its competitors would be lost without content planning. Take the construction industry, for example. 

All of the work that went into building a new series of apartment complexes would be lost without pamphlets highlighting the benefits of the complex, advertisements planned right before the opening, and testimonials from happy renters—all targeting your ideal renter’s demographic.

So how can you make sure you start your content planning process the right way? Regardless of your industry, you should start by asking yourself certain questions. Here are a few to get started:

  • What are your mission and goals?
  • What KPIs do you want to measure your success against?
  • Who is your audience? What do they respond to?
  • Where do you stand in comparison to your competitors?
  • What are the best content channels?
  • What types of content will you produce?
  • What resources do you have? How will you allocate them?

Where does content planning get held up?

With so many stakeholders invested in content planning and work spread among many tools, the inability to accurately measure or track progress is often where content planning can get held up.

Let’s get a little more granular with some examples below and some best practices to nip them in the bud or adjust your existing content planning process.

What are some tips to effectively manage content planning?

As we mentioned before, bottlenecks are not entirely avoidable. However, considerable advances in the flexibility and functionality of products such as task management software have enabled content and marketing teams across industries to increase their productivity and really deliver in all steps of the content lifecycle.

According to the Project Management Institute, such project management software saves the average employee 498 hours per year—that’s almost 21 days!

Without further ado, here are some common pain points in the content planning process that task or project management software could alleviate:

Pain point #1: your content planning must take into account more than just your content team’s input

As the value of content becomes clearer, content planning involves more cooks in the kitchen. Instead of just copywriters or digital content creators, you now need to answer to product developers or C-Suite stakeholders. This naturally makes the process more complex, especially in terms of managing feedback and approvals.

Tip: create a dynamic, visual workflow that allows multiple teams to collaborate in real-time.

Screenshot of content planning
Content collaboration

Each team involved in the planning process brings its own tools and processes, which need accommodation. Even as early as 2017, 43 percent of workers believed they had to switch between too many apps just to get basic work done.

By moving all of this work into one central source of truth that allows you to track statuses on content assets, share the files, assign owners and communicate in context, you’ll be able to keep your content plan on track and focused.

Pain point #2: your planning process relies heavily on emails and spreadsheets

While emails and Excel files can be great for small-scale task lists or analysis, they’re not dynamic or efficient enough for content creators and their teams. Just consider the editorial process for a piece of content. 

After creation, different team players will contribute to the draft and even the optimized version, repurposing across other platforms thereafter.

Screenshot of update task updates

Tip: choose a software tool that can integrate with existing content tools, allow for file sharing, and grant easy access to assets across your organization.

It’s easy to lose track of the most up-to-date files. It’s even harder to remember where you stored the feedback you got from the CMO or a client on your thought leadership piece. 

Project management software allows you to store and communicate this all in one place. The use of status tracking and automation also clarifies when an asset is ready to move through the next part of the cycle. 

Pain point #3: your content planning process isn’t moving quickly enough, but you can’t seem to find where the holdup is

Many teams only find out crucial information, such as being over budget or late to deliver at the end of a project. By then, it can be challenging—and time-consuming—to sift back through all project phases to determine who was responsible and the reasons behind such holdups. 

Tip: Track budget and progress each step of the way

Part of having a successful content roadmap is making it timely and orderly. For example, you might want to have some content prepared for publishing before launching a brand new campaign.

With task management software, you can plan a few articles you want ready under each of your major content pillars. Assigning a specific deadline, budget, and owner to each in advance will help you avoid a scramble. As these deadlines approach, you can quickly see where the work stands.

By time-tracking each item, you can also do a retroactive analysis of your workflow. Perhaps you see that editing ad copy is consistently taking the most time and slowing down the process. This data could help you conclude whether you need another editor on the team or a better tool to expedite the process. 

If things go awry, you can quickly dive into your content plan and see where the hiccups were, based on team members’ communication, documents, and more.

Screenshot of content planning in
Content planning in

Content planning made manageable

After some careful examination, it’s clear that you don’t need the might and resources of Batman to overcome your content planning foes. While treacherous in their own unique ways, There are ways to combat the challenges of multiple team inputs, cumbersome communication methods, and progress jams.  

At the end of the day, their kryptonite – and your secret power– lies in developing a top content strategy and a task management tool that allows you to manage the people, budgets, and content from end to end. 

About the Author

Rachel Weaver is a Content Marketing Manager at Work OS is a flexible platform where anyone can easily create or customize the solutions their team needs to run any aspect of their work.

What you should do now

When you’re ready… here are 3 ways we can help you publish better content, faster:

  1. Book time with MarketMuse Schedule a live demo with one of our strategists to see how MarketMuse can help your team reach their content goals.
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