Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Power of Content Calendars

Not just for the wordsmiths and marketeers in your organization. It’s as easy as 1-7-30-4-2-1

It’s no secret that Thought Leadership Marketing (aka “content marketing”) is one of the most effective ways to position yourself as an expert in your niche and to stay top of mind with your clients, prospects, influencers and/or members throughout the year. Blogs, e-newsletters, white papers, webinars, published articles, social media posts and podcasts, are all proven forms of thought leadership marketing. We know you have the expertise in house, but how do you keep coming up with great topics when you don’t have a full-time writing staff?

Start with a plan.

You wouldn’t have clients invest their money without a plan. You wouldn’t hire an architect to build your dream house if he or she didn’t use blue prints. So, why would you start pushing out content to your universe of followers without a plan?

Getting started and sticking to it

Editorial content calendars (sometimes called content calendars) are what we typically recommend to clients to get your thoughts organized for the short-term, intermediate term and long-term. You can start with a simple spreadsheet showing the months, types of content, topics covered and who’s responsible for each piece of content. 

You don’t need to invest in expensive or sophisticated marketing automation software in the early going. The main objective is to have a simple snapshot of the year ahead and to try your best to stick to the plan. It’s OK to make adjustments as important new topics rise to the surface during the course of the year. But you want to maintain a consistent schedule—we call it a “cadence” just like being consistent about your diet, your new exercise routine or your new personal enrichment class.
In fact, both content calendars and resolutions tend to fail for many of the same reasons. Perhaps you committed to a goal that’s too big or your support group falls apart. Maybe you just don’t know where to begin. Instead of giving up on your content marketing plans, as four out of five people do with their resolutions, make a plan that works for your organization.

To help you stick to your content plan, here are 6 key steps adapted from a presentation by Frank Dale, CEO of content management software company, Compendium (now part of Oracle):

1. Map out all the content your organization produces.
There’s probably more than you think. In addition to blogs, write down all forms of content, including videos, photos, presentations, webinars, social media posts, marketing materials, press releases, industry and business articles, white papers, FAQs and events.

2. Sort this content into categories or types.
Creating content categories ensures that your organization covers a broad range of topics, not just marketing. Categories can include: “”How To” best practices, industry trends, company news, marketing, events and more.

3. Identify who is creating your content.
Your organization has content authors who don’t know they’re authors. Anyone with hands-on experience within the company has a story to tell and can contribute to your content marketing effort. This includes employees from different areas of your company (marketing, IT, legal) as well as external authors (customers, partners, industry thought leaders).

4. Determine how much and how often your “experts” can contribute. Some authors can easily provide a steady stream of content (social media managers, public relations, customers), while others may be more sporadic (event planners, video producers).

5. Think rows and columns. Once you’ve completed these steps, develop a simple spreadsheet that includes all this information. From this spreadsheet, you can begin to create a content calendar. We like using a traditional monthly calendar because I can easily see what content is planned and when.

6. Be realistic about what your organization can accomplish.
It might be helpful to think about frequency using a technique pioneered by content strategist Russell Sparkman/FusionSpark Media  called the “1-7-30-4-2-1” method. Here’s how it works:

·         1 represents the content your organization can commit to publishing daily. This might be something as easy as the sharing of industry news via Twitter or Facebook.
·         7 refers to weekly content, such as a blog post.
·         30 is what your organization can publish monthly. These might be more extensive content pieces, such as an e-newsletter or video.
·         4 refers to a quarterly content commitment, such as a white paper, e-book or contest.
·         2 is biannual content, such as an event, new brochure or webcast.
·         1 is annual content, such as an event, conference or app.

Don’t get painted into a corner

We advise our clients to think three to six assignments ahead at all times. Start setting up little folders for each upcoming post or article now (paper or digital is fine). You never know when you’ll come across a great nugget or factoid in July that will be perfect for the assignment that’s not due until November.


Approaching content marketing in these manageable bite-sized steps prevents you from feeling overwhelmed and allows you to build a content calendar that’s manageable and sustainable. Best of all, this exercise is easier and less painful than dieting or going to the gym and you’ll have a “ripped” and “buff” reputation to show off for all your effort and discipline.


TAGS: content calendars, editorial calendars, content marketing, Russell Sparkman, Compendium, 

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