AMiable Solution #261: Content Calendars: Not Just for Publishers
Think a content calendar won’t work for your marketing? Here are three reasons why it will:
1. Get big-picture views. According to Insightly, provider of customer relationship management software for small and midsize businesses, a content calendar can help you “see the big picture in regards to marketing campaigns as well as dive into the specifics of what you’ll cover on your blog (or social media) in a given month.” As a result, you’ll be better able to plan ahead and stay organized, see where you need to fill in gaps of coverage, prioritize topics, and figure out how to distribute content to the widest, most targeted audience.
2. Emphasize your expertise. Content calendars help you turn your organization’s experiences, knowledge, and insight into compelling marketing content and strategy. Need help getting started? Natalie DeYoung, in her article, “The Three Benefits Of Using A Content Calendar: Clarity, Context and Consistency,” suggests asking yourself the following questions to help you get started:
What is your organization passionate about?
What sets your organization apart from competitors?
What are the most common questions customers ask?
3. Establish a timeline. You may already do this in your marketing plan, but content calendars also help you identify, plan for, and properly time marketing of important events or milestones for promotion through social media, the web, and direct mail.
Are you sold but not sure what to do? IQ, a nationally-recognized advertising agency with offices in Atlanta and Los Angeles, calls the content calendar the “heart” of your marketing plan and recommends viewing your content calendar as a “living document,” not a set-in-stone list of rules.
In his January 1 post for IQ, Kevin Smith suggests building your calendar following four simple steps:
Identify and understand your audience. Make sure you understand what interests your customers, what barriers they have to overcome when making a purchasing decision, and how they like to receive content from you—and how much.
Know what content you already have. You don’t have to start from scratch. Refer to existing PowerPoint presentations, survey results, news stories, interviews, and old blog posts for content and content ideas.
Know when to publish your content. That means more than just scheduling dates. It means looking into site analytics, identifying key dates, and planning how you will support your planned efforts. According to Smith, you can then “plan the rest of your content with the goal of setting a repeatable cadence for your audience, and ensure that you are mixing topics.” This helps meet your audience’s needs and keeps your marketing fresh and interesting.
Measure and adjust. As with any other marketing effort you make, you should plan on tracking the progress of your efforts. Whether that means documenting changes in web traffic, subscriber growth, social media followers, or simple inquiries, measuring the response to your efforts enables you to make adjustments, as necessary, to your overall marketing plan.
Creating and maintaining a content calendar takes a little practice, but if you remain flexible and committed, your marketing will grow.