Content Marketing Playbook - Why and How

Content Marketing Playbook: Why It’s Important and How to Create One

Many organizations both small and large have their own Content Marketing Playbook. They may also have several different forms or names for the playbook, such as a Content Marketing Strategy, Style and Messaging Guide, or simply a Marketing and Communications Strategy.

Regardless of what each individual organization calls their document, it is integral for their short- and long-term marketing activity. The playbook also plays a key role in defining and implementing their goals and tasks.

It is important for evaluating and measuring success across a calendar year as a quick reference guide for all members of the organization.

What is a Content Marketing Playbook?

A Content Marketing Playbook is a document which outlines processes for setting marketing goals, building strategies to reach those goals, and ultimately, implementing this all over the short- and long-term.

Overall, the playbook should cover:

  1. Your organization’s Corporate Strategy or Strategic Plan
  2. How you will collaborate with other teams across the organization to either develop or execute your plan
  3. An implementation plan
  4. Editorial calendar

Your playbook will also serve as a historic reference document for current and future staff, as well as a guide for future marketing initiatives.

Once you have a playbook created, it is much easier to develop your annual strategies across the marketing functions.

Your playbook should ensure that everyone both on your team and other teams knows their respective role in implementing outlined tasks. And it also helps them remain clear about what the group goals are.

You can employ your playbook as not just a historical document, but also as a quick reference guide for new and existing staff to understand what the marketing team is doing.

Furthermore, playbooks can help executive teams and Councils or Boards understand the marketing goals and execution from a high level.

How to Create a Content Marketing Playbook

To create your Content Marketing Playbook, you need a solid understanding of your organization’s main goals, drivers, and underlying mission.

You will often find this within your Strategic Plan or Corporate Strategy.

Once you have this understanding, you can ascertain how the marketing team fits into these short and long-term strategies.

Next, you can start by creating the main sections of the document. Here are some suggested key headings you can use, which you can adapt to your individual organization and goals:

Marketing Strategy

Some of the most important pieces of the marketing strategy are as follows:

Key Goals for the Marketing Team

Is the team tasked with increasing sales, raising awareness of your organization, increasing social media engagement, gaining media coverage, or communicating your organization’s product or service to a new audience?

Are you looking to focus on implementing a new digital strategy or creating a publication?


Who are your primary, secondary, and fringe audiences? On which channels will you find them?

You might want to create a table with columns for each type of audience and their preferred medium in this section.

You should also aim to understand your audience further in this section, by creating buyer/audience personas, more detailed audience statistics, or overviews.

Content Channels

This is where you can outline which channels you will use for marketing.

Think social media, digital (email campaigns, website, multimedia), public relations, print collateral, etc.

You should understand which channels you will focus on, which audience they reach, how much effort you will put into each, and how they will flow together.

Responsibilities and Spokespeople

You should clearly define which roles are responsible for each area of the strategy.

For example, the PR Manager will manage spokespeople and media activities. The Digital Marketing Manager is responsible for email marketing and website activity.

You should also clearly define who your chosen spokespeople are for engaging with the media, quoting in blogs / social media, and featuring in news and multimedia campaigns.

They will also be your subject matter experts for content such as technical blogs.

Key  Dates

Be sure you have an idea of the key dates for campaigns and reviews. Set a calendar with check in dates, launches of big campaigns, and reviews of the strategy.

You can also use a forward planner with key dates for your industry. This could be national or international key days, relevant industry events, or company milestones.

Measurement and KPIs

Your playbook should also contain information on how you will measure your success.

Set key performance indicators (KPIs) for your team. KPIs can be things such as engagement figures, number of media coverage hits, open rates for your email marketing campaigns, and ballpark sales figures or quotas.

Outline how you will measure success and what success metrics apply for each individual campaign.

Content Planning

This section of your playbook will go into much more detail about the content you will create and publish.

Take into account the different channels you have already identified, what type of content suits each (i.e. short video for social media, long-form content for website), who will create the content and other assets, the platforms you will use (website platform, email software, social media channel or scheduling assistant), and your key messages.

Consider the following when building your content planning section:


Who are you targeting with each type of content? What actions do you want them to take as a result of viewing the content?

Use of the Particular Channel

Do people engage with or share this content?

Are they likely to view a short video or read a longer piece of content?

Can they click through for further information or to purchase your product or service?

Key Messages for the Company and Calls-to-Action

What are your boilerplate messages that you can use in your content?

This boilerplate should outline your general messaging and a main call to action.

Consider a key messaging document. Your team will be able to easily pull from this document when generating multiple types of content.

Branding and Style

What’s included in your branding and style guide? What logos do you use and when?

What type of imagery do you want published, and are these assets easily found by your team?

Do you have a specific font and color palette you want included with all of your content and messaging?

Is your content consistently basic and consumer-friendly, or is it more technical for a business or tech-savvy audience?

Keep In Mind…

Your customer personas, goals, identified audience, and channels will help inform the above, leading into your implementation plan.

Keep your content relevant to the audience, campaign or key date, and platform.

Ensure your content is consistent and can easily be identified as your organization’s tone of voice and branding.

Consistency is key to building brand awareness and maintaining focus from your customer base.

Implementation Plan

Now that you have established the key areas of your strategy and content creation, it’s time to create your implementation or execution strategy.

This plan will guide your marketing team on when and where to publish content. It will also provide them with key dates to work toward.

In your implementation section you should include:

  • Editorial calendar which will outline your campaign milestones and key dates, such as when content should be drafted, review or proofing dates, and who will review and approve the content assets. It should also spell out when content should be published and where, when the evaluation report should be created to evaluate success, and how you can improve the next time.
  • Process flows outlining who is responsible for what task and at which stage. Start at content creation and take into account any research or subject-matter experts, and then move through to review and publication. Also include asset creation and who is responsible for final approvals.
  • Policies on use of your website, social media, and public relations channels. This should include do’s and don’ts’s, key people, responsible person, who approves actions/content, key spokespeople (where required), and who manages the channel overall, including responding to consumers (social media, website, emails).
  • Any automatic replies or website messages required. If you need any standard messaging set up across your email campaigns, website submissions or social media, include these as tasks in your implementation plan.

How to Evaluate Your Content Marketing Playbook

Once you finish setting KPIs, outlining how to measure success, and implemented campaigns, you’ll want to evaluate how your playbook assisted the organization.

Of course, you should undertake reporting on all areas when you can. This action will help you reevaluate channels and strategies throughout the year, and reshape as required.

You can do this in two ways:

1. Individual Evaluation Reports

You can evaluate each campaign or marketing function individually, presuming you have the capacity to do so on a regular basis.

This would mean that your Social Media Manager needs to have a separate report each quarter/month/year on how their channels performed.

In this instance, you would look at engagement numbers, performance of posts, leads and sales generated, etc.

2. Campaign Evaluation Reports

You could also evaluate each campaign such as how your en- of-year campaign performed overall – including your sales numbers, lead generation, and engagement across channels (social media engagement, email open rates, media coverage).

It’s useful to set up dashboards to assist you with measurement where possible. Some popular dashboards include Google Analytics for your website statistics, Hootsuite or similar for your social media engagement, and dashboards within your email client (i.e. MailChimp and Campaign Monitor have their own).

For anything else, consider creating your own dashboards – there are many online platforms available. This will make reporting quicker and simpler for your team.

You should also consider setting up a standard evaluation report format for each team member to follow when evaluating their marketing function or campaign.

You can now go and create your Content Marketing Playbook by adopting the ideas and sections outlined in this article. Adapt it to your individual marketing team and organization of course, and see how it works for your business.

Feature Image Credit: CC 0; Public Domain. Feature image sourced from pixabay.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions stated in this post are that of the author, and Return On Now may or may not agree with any or all of the commentary.

This guest post brought to you courtesy of Return On Now, Professional Austin SEO and PPC Services Company.

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Simon Choi

Director at Lensball Australia (Refractique)
Simon Choi has a background in marketing and change management in consulting firms (EY and KPMG) and Financial Services companies in Australia. In 2017 he started e-commerce photography business Lensball Australia (now also known by Refractique). He writes in business and psychology.

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