You’ve figured out who your audience is, defined your overall objective, determined what you and your content marketing team (if you have one) can accomplish, and decided how to measure your performance. Now what?Since strategy without execution is merely a theory…now’s the time to actually do the work. Hunker down, refer to the work you’ve done to get to this point in the plan, and execute it.

Since strategy without execution is merely a theory…now’s the time to actually do the work. Hunker down, refer to the work you’ve done to get to this point in the plan, and execute it.

[Editor’s Note: This is the sixth in a series of posts on designing a content marketing pilot program. Read the basics in our first post, here, details of how to create persona profiles in this posthow to set your objective here, how to determine what you can get done and the most recent installment on setting performance metrics.]

This may sound like the easy part of the whole plan, but this could just be the toughest. If your organization’s content marketing pilot program isn’t your sole responsibility, you’ll be weaving this work into the other tasks on your to-do list. Additionally, if you’re relying on SMEs to provide you with content or sit down for an interview, you may have to do some chasing to ensure they make time for you and you stay on schedule.

Here’s how to finally get ‘er done.

Stick to your editorial calendar

When you built your editorial calendar, you chose the dates and topics for good reason.

There is some wiggle room – if breaking news happens in the world that applies to your industry or company, feel free to use it as fodder for your content and make the most of its time-sensitive nature by pushing another topic down on the calendar to make room.

Similarly, if an SME tells you ahead of time he or she can’t deliver content to you by the date you’ve established, but can deliver it at a different date, it’s ok to move a few topics around to accommodate. The emphasis here is “ahead of time.” If an SME tells you they can’t deliver on or past the deadline you gave them, put your foot down – otherwise you’ll allow a “deadlines don’t matter” trend to take off.

Here’s a pro tip for you: if you have multiple SMEs sprinkled throughout your editorial calendar, reach out to all of them right away regardless of the deadline. You may even want to give them all a deadline earlier than the one indicated on your calendar (this gives you time to edit and seek their approval if necessary). Then the order in which they appear on your calendar can be dictated by who gets back to you first and give you time to continue to nudge the others.

Unless there are extenuating circumstances, always maintain the deadlines you’ve set out on your editorial calendar.

Set aside time

When you’re the one writing the content, physically make time for it on your schedule. If you make a weekly or daily to-do list, put your content marketing work on it. If you schedule meetings on a shared calendar with your colleagues, schedule yourself “head down” writing time with a reminder. When that reminder goes off, put aside everything else and try to remove other distractions (cough, email, cough) and get to work.

Outlining specifically when you’re going to work on content in your day or week will make it part of your routine, and far more likely to keep the pilot program moving forward.

Think like a journalist

When there’s an important story to report on, journalists don’t give up on chasing a source. And they most certainly don’t give up on the story altogether if their source is less than available.

If this is the case with some of the SMEs you’re working with, be persistent. Nudge them and explain why working with you on this effort will benefit them.

If you’re interviewing them, do some research and formulate questions before the interview. Doing initial research will ensure you understand the topic you’ll be speaking to your SME about, as well as any current news about it – this will turn your interview into more of a conversation. It’s a good idea to also be prepared with questions before the interview to make sure you get all of the information you need – plus the SME would probably appreciate reviewing these questions ahead of time to make sure they’re fully prepared for the interview. Unlike the traditional journalist–SME relationship, you’re on the same team, so make it as easy as possible for the SMEs

Edit and fact check

After you write or receive content from an SME, you’re not quite ready to pull the “publish” trigger yet. Nothing will be more distracting to your audience reading your content than errors. Even the most honest typo can derail your attempts to present yourself or your SME as a thought leader – so the first thing you should be looking for are spelling and grammatical errors.

Then, if there are any facts or figures mentioned in the piece, double check to make sure they’re accurate. If you or the SME mention a survey, study or research, make sure it’s from a credible source and consider citing it or hyperlinking to it to give it proper credit and assure readers it’s valid.

More and more, distribution is vitally important for content marketing; there’s so much content being created every day that you need to commit time and resources to making sure it gets in front of your target audience. This could be a paid search campaign, a social media push, media relations or influencer marketing. Whatever your plan is, be sure to pay close attention to what’s working and what you can improve upon, and adjust accordingly as your pilot program moves along.

If you want to speak to Scribewise about designing a content marketing pilot program, please contact us.