For those of us who don’t feel like natural writers—which, let’s face it, is nearly everyone—the job of content creation can feel maddening, a treadmill that never seems to end.
In one sense, that’s true: Content marketing, done properly, shouldn’t end. Brands should always be creating and sharing content that inspires, compels, educates and delights. For those who do it well, this kind of steady content marketing pays dividends: Drawing in new audiences, delivering value to current ones, and positioning those brands as true industry leaders and pathbreakers.
But here’s the thing: It doesn’t need to be a struggle. And you don’t need to feel like you’re reinventing the wheel each time you start a fresh post. In today’s article, we’re going to share the concept behind one of our favorite content creation tools: The flexible dispensary content plan.
Rather than being a rigid set of rules you have to follow to the letter, a truly flexible dispensary content plan sets simple and intuitive guidelines, boundaries, and best practices for you to follow. And when used in conjunction with another of our favorite life hacks—the dispensary content calendar—it’s a plan that will make your writing life easier. We promise.
Ready to get flexible? Let’s do it!
Creating a Flexible Dispensary Content Plan: Setting Boundaries
At its heart, a dispensary content plan is nothing more than an atlas telling you the lay of the land and where the borders are so you can focus on the task at hand. It defines what kinds of content you need to produce, what kind of voice or tone to use, and what the processes used to create that content are.
How does that tie in with a dispensary content calendar? As we hinted earlier, they’re designed to complement each other; if the content plan is an atlas or a bird’s-eye view defining the territory, the content calendar is your trip planner, laying out the exact route and waypoints to get you from Point A to Point Z. Same territory, two different tools to help you navigate it. (Confused? Don’t worry, we’ll return to the topic of the editorial calendar in a moment.)
Let’s begin by setting the boundaries, or what some content specialists call “guidelines and governance.” Essentially, all this means is deciding on your brand’s voice and tone: What kinds of content do you share, and how does that content feel to your audience?
Let’s start with your brand voice. One way to help define this essential quality is to choose three words that describe your brand. Some examples could be:
Taking it further, what qualities describe each of these words? For “Playful,” it might be: “We work hard and we play hard. We think our products help people shed stress and feel good about themselves.”
For “Authoritative,” it might be: “We’re big on science, data, and research, and we’ve put in the hard work to develop and stock products that deliver consistent, effective results.”
Now, taking it into the realm of concrete action, what do each of these voices do (and not do) when they communicate? For “Playful,” it might be: “We address our audience like friends, using unexpected or offbeat examples they’ll resonate with. But we’re careful not to get too casual, jargon-ey, or loose.”
For “Authoritative,” it might be: “It’s our goal to instill trust and confidence in our products, as well as provide our customers with reliable, science-based information. But we don’t talk down to our audience, and we respect their questions or concerns.”
The next step in defining your content plan involves setting standards for editorial quality and style. In this case, this means that your content needs to meet a baseline in terms of technical quality—correct spelling, punctuation, and grammar—and also that it meets a standard of content quality.
What’s content quality? In addition to fulfilling any specific needs based on the brand voice qualities we outlined above, it’s material that informs, entertains, and educates its audience. It engages them by providing actual value, and it keeps them coming back. In our long experience, this means that truly useful content—resources about the science of cannabis, local happenings, product reviews, and how-tos—will always resonate more than a straight sales pitch. After all, you already have your audience’s attention; give them something that reminds them why they tuned in in the first place.
Creating a Flexible Dispensary Content Plan: Processes and Tools
Now it’s time to start putting this into action by building your toolkit. What you’re looking to gather are the easy-to-grasp, repeatable steps you can use to make great content time after time.
The first and most important step is to define your workflow. If “defining your workflow” sounds like…well, just another piece of work, we urge you to take the long view. Everything you can do to quantify and define the steps in content creation, the easier it will be for you—or, down the road, someone else—to do the work consistently, effectively, and well.
So, what are the steps that lead to great content? At a minimum, some of the basic elements include:
- Content generation: Brainstorming catchy topics for future shares. This should be the most free-form, loose—and,hopefully, fun!—part of the process. Throw out ideas quickly, jot down a few explanatory notes, and move on to the next idea. Ideally, you’ll end up with a pile of inspirations you can bring to the next step.
- Content approval: Reviewing the content idea-starters you came up with—ideally with a manager, a fellow employee, or another stakeholder—and deciding which content is fit to pursue. Does it support the brand goals and voice? Is it a simple social share, or can it stand alone as a newsletter or blog post? Winnow your pile down into the best ideas, and now it’s time to put your plan into action.
- Content sorting and scheduling: Here’s where you’ll really start to appreciate the value of a content plan. Taking your approved ideas, it’s time to start plugging them into your dispensary content calendar. As you put titles and publish dates into the form fields, you’ll see what materials you’ll need to gather beforehand. And instead of scrambling on the day you’re supposed to be posting, you’ll know exactly what’s needed and be prepared.
There’s more to creating great content, of course; much more. If you want to see an overview of some of the principles we follow here at Foottraffik, we invite you to browse our Introduction to Content Marketing. It’ll get you up to speed with some of the highly successful strategies and tactics we use here, ones you can leverage yourself to bring the level of your dispensary content head and shoulders above the rest. You can also use this handy checklist to make sure your content hits the mark.
And if implementing all this sounds like a heavy lift, we invite you to relax and take a deep breath. Truly stellar content marketing takes time to implement, and you learn best by doing it. Don’t worry; not every post will be perfect, especially when you’re just starting out.
If you want help generating content that helps educate your customers and draws more people to your website, then contact us and learn more about our done-for-you solution.