The Content Calendar: 4 Ways to Develop Your Brand's Content Strategy
What's that old saying? "Failing to plan is planning to fail"?
How many times has your company gone into the year with the best intentions for marketing? Budget has been allocated, goals have been set, ROI benchmarks have been established and the marketing department (or you, all-in-one Mr. CEO, CMO, COO, CIO, entrepreneur) is ready to rock and roll. So you and your employees start working - hard. They're heads down, working long hours, driving leads, closing sales, looking good.
Then, inevitably, something happens: A big project hits. Summertime. Vacations. Maternity leave. Career transition. And your marketing, the well-oiled machine that it once was, suddenly screeches to a halt.
Now, in the best case scenario someone takes notice. They raise their hand and say something to the effect of "Hey, shouldn't we have a new white paper coming out soon?" or "Hey, our Twitter feed hasn't been updated in 3 months!". In a normal scenario, however, what's likely to happen is you and your team will be distracted for the next 6 months, Christmas time comes around, and you find yourself waking up from a daze asking "Where the hell did the time go?".
There are a few ways that even the busiest of teams can ensure their brand is producing all the content it should without a hitch. And that magic bullet is called The Content Calendar.
What is a content calendar? It's pretty simple, really. It's a calendar of all your content. No surprises there. Above and beyond what it is, is what it makes you and your business do early in the year.
Early in the year, your business takes a linear look at the next 12 months and plans. Plans out white papers. Plans out email campaigns. Plans out specials. Plans out tweets. Plans out social media posts. And the beauty of all this planning: it takes the thought out of all the marketing later in the year. Let's say you get heads down, caught up in work and look at your content calendar. It's very clear as to what you need to do at what particular time. It makes the process much more autonomous and puts the plan in a format that more than just one person with the information in their head. We've done a ton of content calendars and would love to help you come up with one of your own.
So now that you're sold on how important a content calendar is for your brand's marketing, you're probably asking yourself "How can I do this? Where should I start?"
These are great questions. If you want us to help, we certainly can. However, a simple content calendar isn't that difficult to come up with.
Four Ways To Develop Your Brand's Content Calendar
- Key Events: Does your brand do webinars? Trade Shows? Dealer Conferences? Sales Conventions? Start by writing those dates down. From there, you'll know when your brand will be most active in your buyers' eyes. Plan for some activity a week before, the week of, and the week after each major event. Most likely, you'll be planning this event weeks in advance anyway, so this will just add another "to-do" item on the existing list.
- Once-Per-Month: Lay out the year into 12 months. Plan for one simple marketing exercise each month. The key for success in any marketing initiative is consistency. So as long as you know what is coming (let's say, maybe a LinkedIn post 1x a month... Write out what the topic should be for each post), you should be able to act accordingly.
- Quarterly Specials: Come up with just 4 specials, offers, or key events for the year. Pick dates for each one to "go live", come up with any applicable codes, copy, etc. Surrounding these events, come up with several pieces of content (social posts, blog posts, emails, etc.). Four events a year is manageable enough for just about every entrepreneur. In your calendar software of choice, plug each of these dates in. Set a reminder 1 month out. This way, you'll see when you need to start producing content in time. You'll be able to refer to your calendar to know exactly what you need to do when the time comes.
- Hire Out: Most entrepreneurs wear 14 different hats an hour. One of the last things they want to is have the burden of planning Tweets, LinkedIn posts, blog posts, and content, then developing all of this information... all while running a (presumably) thriving business. Bring in an expert to look at your existing marketing, your events, and have them develop something for you. Time is the most valuable asset you have, and that time has a value - both monetary and intrinsic. There may be more value in giving the strategic planning to someone who can dedicate valuable time into coming up with the best plan for your brand.
If you find yourself losing days, weeks, and months without reaching your goals in email marketing, online marketing, or event marketing, or just need some help getting going putting your own content calendar together, we're always here to help.