Last week, I wrote about how to convince the boss content marketing will work for your company. One of the ideas in that post was to propose a pilot program – a six-month trial to see how your team performs and whether you can begin to get any traction in the marketplace.

Implementing a pilot program is going to be more palatable to the C-level decision makers at your company. It doesn’t seem to be as daunting a proposition, as big a commitment. It’s only a test. And while you know that content marketing, done well, needs at least six months to take hold and have an impact, a pilot program can provide you a glimpse of what is possible for your organization.

But how do you put that pilot program together?

Here are the steps you need to take to create a meaningful program that will help prove whether or not content marketing will work for your organization.

Step 1. Identify your audience.

Ideally, you’ve already gone through a persona profile exercise and have a good idea of your customers, what they want and how they consume information. If not, it’s imperative that you understand your audience before you launch your content marketing pilot. Identifying your audience is important for whatever marketing approach you’re taking, so you have to do this at some point anyway.

Step 2. Determine your objective.

The purpose of this pilot is to demonstrate that content marketing can be an effective tool to grow your business. That means you need to attach some marketing outcome to it – the objective can’t be “create 5 whitepapers;” it needs to be “increase web traffic” or “provide MQLs to sales” or “raise brand awareness” – something that speaks to the growth you’re looking to drive.

Step 3. Determine what is possible.

This is about determining what you can reasonably accomplish that will be meaningful. It’s also about determining how you will execute; will your existing team be responsible for content creation and/or distribution? Will you use freelancers or an agency? Is paid distribution in the budget? In order to know what is possible, you need to understand how you’re going to get things done.

Step 4. Determine the metrics that measure your performance.

How will you measure whether or not you’ll succeed? You could say your goal is merely to drive more website traffic or increase social media followers. It could be a somewhat deeper metric like increasing time on site. Or you could have an awareness survey before and after to determine the impact the pilot has on your brand.

Step 5. Execute.

Do the work. Stick to your editorial calendar. If you’re relying on internal Subject Matter Experts to provide content or be available for interviews, you need to be able to hold them to your schedule. Importantly, analyze as you go and make any subtle tweaks that need to be made.

Step 6. Analyze and report.

Don’t just hand over a Google Analytics report, or whatever dashboard you’re using. Assess the performance of the pilot. Surely, not everything went according to plan, but identify what worked, what didn’t and make recommendations on how you can improve. This is typically what the decision makers are looking for.

And then, if all goes well, you’ll get to move to Step 7: Repeat.