ABC planning for content marketing prioritization

A simple process for weighting your content prioritization

The rise of always-on content marketing has led to a content tsunami, making cut-through more difficult, so teams need tools and approaches to balance their content priorities. In this post, I’ll share our ‘ABC process’ which we use to simplify the process of content marketing prioritization and planning the most effective content to meet our clients’ goals.

Marketing common sense ≠ common practice

It’s easy to get immersed in the joy of creating content and lose sight of the bigger picture. (I’ve been there too). The challenge is that when we as marketers put our heart into the job (and as much as we may know the truth is different) it’s easy to lose our heads and act as if our target customers are eagerly searching for what we have to offer.


The inconvenient truths of content marketing

There are some inconvenient truths that marketers need to face. We’re in a war for relevance and attention. There is a growing content tsunami out there. Our main rivals in this war are not other companies. Our rivals – if we ignore them – are every interest and concern in people’s lives.

As marketers, we cannot hope to win that war, because we are outnumbered. The content tsunami will continue to rise forever. Our only hope to avoid getting drowned out is to tap into people’s interests and concerns and to generate content that floats to the top because it has immediate relevance and value.

To help us maintain this focus, we have a simple model to help keep our content team aligned, and a rigorous process to put it into effect.

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The ABC of getting your content priorities right

If the following model seems a bit simplistic, that’s because it was intended to be simple. It’s designed to help remedy a simple mistake that we often see even very smart marketers make – falling into the trap of selfie marketing. Sometimes, we also see the opposite problem, where marketers are creating (or curating) interesting content that doesn’t drive any kind of commercial outcome.

This simple content marketing prioritization model helps content teams avoid both extremes, and create a balanced content mix:

What action would you like to drive that brings people closer to your brand? What is the series of actions you’ll want to lead your user through?

What do you want people to know, think and feel about your brand? This is especially important for new brands, or for a brand refresh.

What are your target communities of interest communicating about? This is what people are talking about that is relevant to your brand, but which they’d be talking about even if your brand didn’t exist.

Deciding on a weighting

The ABC acronym helps our content teams to remember the priorities they need to balance, and we start our strategic planning with the action we want to help drive. (When it comes to content marketing prioritization, it sometimes helps to think in the order CBA [Comms, Brand, Action], to ensure that you tap into what your target communities are talking about).

Weighting for your content marketing prioritization
 content marketing prioritization

We like to encourage client-side teams to decide what proportion of their content and engagement will be aimed at each priority. Of course, this percentage will vary at times, e.g. when we need to promote a special campaign or event that is aimed at driving a specific response.

But it’s still important that project owners commit to a percentage weighting for each priority. Why? Because it helps to ensure that the content produced delivers comms value.

Remember to think well beyond your established brand community, because the Comms priority isn’t a question of what you’d most like to communicate – it’s about tapping into what your target communities of interest are talking about. Take a step back and listen. What do people care about and talk about? What value could you provide them right away, without talking about your brand?

Example weighting:

content marketing prioritization weighting eg

How would this 40:40:20 weighting affect Facebook posting frequency if you were running an always-on content program that included 5 Facebook posts per week? (The visual below focuses on frequency – the actual timing and sequencing of posts is a separate question).


Showing how your content weighting affects your posting frequency is important if you want to achieve full team alignment. When you take this additional clarification step, you may find that project teams want to rethink the prioritization. It’s important to have a full discussion and work it out thoroughly, otherwise you may find that your content mix, however inspired, isn’t generating the results you hoped for.

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What happens if you don’t do content marketing prioritization?

Actually, successful content marketers are probably intuitively doing some version of this already. But if you’re not yet convinced of the need to smartly prioritize your content across ABC priorities, it may help to consider what happens if you put too much or too little emphasis on each of the priority areas:

content marketing prioritization abc

So, what is the right ABC weighting for you?

That really depends. Finding the ideal weighting between the ABC priority pillars will depend on a range of factors, including whether your brand is new or well-established. If you’re running a discount e-commerce business that is already well-known, you may put relatively more priority on Action, and put less priority on Brand and Comms. That may make sense for a company that issues regular offers that are well-received. But it would make less sense for a brand that isn’t yet well-known.

How the ABC of content marketing plays out across platforms

Certain platforms lend themselves more to Comms content, while others are more suited to building an understanding of your Brand proposition, and others may be best suited to driving Action.  However, the first step is to decide on the ABC priority ratio for your overall content mix.

ABC planning is not a once-off exercise

Experience has taught us that the above is fairly simple to understand, and that it’s a worthwhile exercise to do the above, because it gets teams really thinking about their content priorities. However, it’s important not to treat it as a once-off exercise. We actually do ABC planning as part of every content planning cycle – the first thing we do is map out our ABC mix over the planning period. We then decide on the topics for individual content pieces. This helps us ensure that we have a suitable mix of content that engages our target audiences while supporting business priorities

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