How to create a Content Marketing Playbook [FAST] in 2021

There are so many platforms where creators, and brands post content to engage with their current audiences, and to find people who might be interested in what they have to say. 

With the growing number of platforms, it’s very important for marketers, and creators to curate their content such that it can appeal to the audiences, and for this one often has to adapt a different approach towards content creation, or curation and content marketing

A lot of brands, and seasoned content creators often follow a content marketing playbook to ensure that whatever they post aligns with their persona, or brand image. 

In this article, you will learn how to create a Content Marketing Playbook in 2021?

Content Marketing Playbook
Content Marketing Playbook

What is a Content Marketing Playbook?

A Content Marketing Playbook is a document or a set of resources which contains brand guidelines, templates, and outlines processes that can help in setting marketing goals, and building strategies. It takes time for brands to build such playbooks, and is always evolving.

Playbooks are ways to effectively measure input, accelerate the process of execution, and improve as you head towards your set goals. 

A good Content Marketing Playbook will serve as a historic reference document that continually helps teams stick to brand goals, as well as a guide for future marketing initiatives. Therefore it’s very important to understand what are the key-elements one should have in their playbook to ensure that the document serves its purpose. 

There are many seasoned content creators turned freelancers who offer their expertise to create content strategies, and devise a playbook. 

The advantages of having a Content Marketing Playbook are many, here are some of them highlighted as – 

  • Define the Do’s and Don’ts 
  • Allowing complex strategies to be broken down into small executable steps
  • Direct the team towards working on the defined goals 
  • Consistency paves way for compounding, and a marketing playbook facilitates that
  • Marketing Playbooks help improve the speed on which decisions are made
  • Well documented playbooks include past campaigns that can be referred to
  • Playbooks pave way for campaign documentation 
  • Focuses on Quality
  • Provides clarity to the stakeholders at all stages of decision making

Now that we have learned the advantages of having a content marketing Playbook, let’s explore and understand what are the key elements that one needs to include on their playbook  

  • Goals – What are your brand goals? Is it to drive conversions or to increase awareness? 
  • Audience – Who are the people who you desire to reach? Mark them with key identifiers such as age, gender, location, educational background, financial status, interests, online behaviors, etc 
  • Channels – Where does your audience hangout? Are they using Instagram, and LinkedIn? For a brand it’s extremely important to identify all the channels their desired audience is, and prioritize the top 3 for maximum effectiveness. 
  • People, and key responsibilities – Who are the people who will run the operations? For example, the PR Manager will manage external communication while The Digital Marketing Manager would be responsible for marketing of all forms – digital, traditional, and website activity. Based on their skills, experience, and interests, the company should outline the work, and  designate it to the right people to mark their responsibilities. This avoids scope for conflict amongst the team.
  • KPIs – Set key performance indicators (KPIs) for your team. Although the KPIs will change and evolve depending on business scenarios, but it’s always advised to include them in your marketing playbook. Some examples of KPIs for certain use cases  could be – 
  •  A B2B SaaS company would want to measure Sales Qualified Leads generated through a digital campaign 
  • While a food delivery company, say Zomato would want to measure retargeting impressions for any of their campaigns 
  • List the keywords, and emotions that define the brand, and list all negative keywords that a brand should avoid at all costs. This helps the people understand the emotions the brand wishes to invoke, and paves way for an efficient strategy.

Now that we have understood the key pointers we should maintain in the playbook, let’s understand

How to create a Content marketing Playbook (2021)

1) Define the strategy

A lot of industry experts say – “Speed is important”, and in ways it’s true. In the early days of their existence brands usually pour out content without much thought, and that’s okay, but at later stages it’s recommended that brands spend time in defining their strategies putting into picture the larger picture.

This gives you a sense of direction, and makes your marketing strategies better. Some questions you can ask before you’re actually going ahead with the draft of your marketing playbook. 

  • What is my customer persona? Define your persona with customer demographics, and psychographics
  • The next question to ask yourself is, “What would my ideal customer be interested in?”
  • What would a customer like to read? What are their interests? 
  • What other kind of content does my ideal customer consume? 
  • What are the goals of my marketing efforts? Is it to drive sales? Or increase brand awareness? Or increase brand retention? 

Based on the answers to the above questions, and the understanding brands have of their customer needs, they should work on the following 

  • What kind of resources do they have in terms of human resources, and time.
  • What kind of content can they create? Video, audio, image-rich or textual? 
  • What do you want to achieve through the content that you generate? 
  • How often will a brand revisit their marketing strategy to make changes? 
  • What happens if this strategy fails? Think of plan B. 

Defining the strategy can be a time consuming process, and it’s recommended that you talk to your important stakeholders before fixating on an idea. The people you should talk to could be your potential customers, current users, team-mates, vendors, competitors, etc 

Amazon’s founder – Jeff Bezos spends 1 hour of his time on customer support every week. He does this to get the pulse of what the user may need, and this allows him to define user strategies that are constantly improving. 

2) Adequate Research

Picasso once said, “Good artists copy, great steal”. 

This quote is not to be taken literally, but what we need to read between the lines to understand what Picasso meant, and it has a lot to do with research.

Any work that amounts to something meaningful is usually backed by well-defined research, and as we explored in the first step, the first stage of research is done within the closed group of immediate stakeholders that involved customers, team mates, users, etc 

The next step is to look for similar resources that can help you build on the insights gained from the first step. Thankfully we are blessed with the power of the internet, and anything that we want to search is just a click away. 

Let’s take an example to understand this better. 

Lucy wants to start a nail salon, and wants ideas for her social media handles. The first logical thing Lucy would do is checkout the social media handles of the salons she frequents, and based on that she would go on to Google, or Pinterest and hunt for similar ideas that she likes. 

A lot of people go a step ahead, and create mood boards that allow people to create documents rich with images, and references that allow people to visualize the expectations, their likes, and this helps the thoughts find direction. 

3) Create Content

Once you have the set objectives and a well researched framework, it’s time to get to the creation part. Here you need to describe the types of content you will create, how will you create, and the roles and responsibilities of each person. 

The brand’s performance is dependent on the kind of content you will create. Specify in detail about the resources needed, the parameters for creating the content, and who is accountable for what to accomplish the goals.

The next part is to define the roles and responsibilities. Include instructions and deliver your expectations from the team members. Specific who will take on the lead and/or be accountable for each task. Outline the workflow process and the standard procedure that needs to be followed. Clear the deadlines for  each activity. Communication will minimize the chances of errors occurring in the future.

This chapter in the playbook should be most thoughtful and structured. Create a more shareable content. Maintain the consistency throughout. 

4) Set distribution channels

There are a load of social media channels out there, where a brand can potentially put their content out, and hope to find their desired audience. 

Some ready to go distribution channels for content are – Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Quora, Reddit, Behance, YouTube, and many more. 

If a brand focuses on being active on all channels right from their initial days, it’d be a really bad idea, and one should avoid it. Let’s take some examples to understand this better. 

Examples – 

  • On YouTube long form videos work best, but on Instagram short videos perform better. Based on this, you can learn to repurpose the content from YouTube for Instagram. Understanding the channels that can drive growth for your business is vital for an effective social media strategy. 
  • Long form blogs for SEO can be broken down into smaller byte sized posts for Instagram, and LinkedIn. 

If content is king, distribution is king-maker. This implies that even if someone has created a very high quality content, and they lack at distributing it, they will not reach the desired audience. Some great movies have died a silent death because they failed to be distributed as effectively. 

One key thing to be noted here is to learn how to repurpose content, and put the same content at different platforms that have been modified and tweaked to suit different audience behaviors. 

5) Track, Measure, Grow 

You can’t grow what you don’t track. Bodybuilders measure the amount of calories they eat and burn, this allows them to strategize and grow muscles. Swimmers, and athletes time their practice runs. Why? 

Numbers tell a story that the gut feeling can’t, and if one spends time in measuring their actions, it will provide the direction needed to grow it. 

Few metrics one can spend in tracking are – 

  • Number of posts, frequency of posts 
  • Post analytics – Impressions, CTR, Engagement – Clicks, Actions, etc 
  • Website/app visits, engagement, page visits, time spent, etc 
  • ROI – Returns on investment on ADs and campaigns 

Re-visit the 1st point, and go back to the section where you identified the KPIs, now understand the requirements, and map the metrics you want to grow accordingly. 

It takes time for marketing to start showing results as per expectations, and its important that we have patience. 

6) Optimize 

Once the momentum has been established, brands and marketers can direct their efforts towards optimizing their work. 

Let’s take examples to understand this better – 

  • YouTube – Spending time to increase production quality in terms of video, & audio. 
  • Instagram – Improving design aesthetics, optimizing for hashtags, etc 
  • Blogs – Putting in efforts towards backlink building, making it search friendly, optimising it for speed, etc 

It’s good to experiment with content, but it’s also important to understand what worked in the past, and optimize future content accordingly. 

Final step – Implementation

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

  • An editorial calendar – This outlines the posts that will go out along with the date, time and platform on which it is being published.
  • Process Flows – A guide that outlines who is responsible for what, and their dependencies should be clearly marked to avoid confusion.
  • Tracker to measure goals vs achieved – What’s the point of execution if we aren’t tracking it what’s being done? 


One of the key elements towards creating a good marketing playbook is the ability to evolve, and it’s a good idea to revisit the content marketing playbook, and make edits to it periodically. If you are running real estate agency, this content marketing for real estate will work.

Big organizations might do an annual revision, whereas smaller companies, and startups can do a quarterly revision to ensure they stay on top of the trends, and are continuously improving. 

Now its your turn!

Anything is missing from the above steps?

Please, let me know in the comment.

Hetvi Shah

Hetvi Shah

Hetvi  works as a Marketing Associate at – India’s most powerful platform for freelancer’s finances and growth. She has worked for some renowned companies as a Brand and Digital marketing associate

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