As a marketer, on a small marketing team, you often have so much to do, with too little time to do it. Here’s how planning ahead your content can help you manage your content goals better. As a marketer, you want to provide your prospects with the exact content they need, when they need it. While an outstanding content personalization tool makes this possible around the clock, fueling the lead nurturing fire takes a little more organized preparation than you may think.
Creating a truly effective content strategy requires a steady and engaging stream of content. By mapping out your strategy ahead of time, you can ensure that everything you publish is working toward your business goals, and just as importantly, the goals of your current and prospective customers. Below are three simple steps to creating a killer content calendar.
Identify your audience, pick your topics, and set your goals
If you’ve found any success in your content marketing strategy thus far, there’s a good chance you’ve spent plenty of time analyzing buyer personas and tailoring your content assets accordingly. If not, you have quite a bit of work to do. The point of building a content calendar isn’t as much about being organized to reduce stress, as it is being organized in the way you engage with your prospects and current customers on a daily or weekly basis.
Whether you’re talking to the CEO of a company you’ve worked with for years, or a content strategist visiting your site for the first time, it’s extremely important that you have an engaging piece of content packaged in a way that fits exactly where they are in the buyer’s journey. Often times, achieving your goals runs parallel with how your content helps your audience achieve their goals. Don’t let a sales opportunity slip through the cracks because you didn’t cover enough topics to fit the needs of a prospect, or an existing customer.
Categorize Your Content
This is where bandwidth plays a large roll in your planning. You know the extent of your resources, and it’s important that you not only group your content assets based on how they fit into your buyer’s journey, but also how they fit into your workflow. Some prospects possess just a small appetite, requiring a high-level blog post or two, while others are ready for a three-course meal of whitepapers, expert-guides, and product demos. The more robust pieces of content will take a larger bite out of your work day, while shorter blog posts and infographics can be frequently sprinkled across your calendar.
While this step paints a healthy picture for future content creation, don’t hesitate to brush off some of your old and possibly unused content assets. They may not be worthy of a finished product, but repurposing some of your ideas can add a little meat to the thinner categories in your content planning. Also, keep in mind that one content idea can domino effect into a series of new content assets (i.e. a blog post that supports an infographic, which eventually links to a more in-depth whitepaper).
Set your calendar, publish your content, and tweak things as you go
Now that you’ve built out an arsenal of content assets and organized them a bit, it’s time to lock things in. Whether it’s an Excel sheet or a Google calendar, select a resource that works for your environment.
The amount of time your calendar covers is going to be a little bit different for everyone, based on how much content you’ve created and how much time your team has to put the calendar together. Planning things out a year in advance might not be worth it, as your business (and most importantly your industry) is ever-changing. Instead, save some room (and time) in your calendar for improvisation. You don’t want to be reactive, but you do need to have the ability to generate creative content on the fly.
As you begin to turn the pages of your calendar, don’t forget to look back at the performance of each asset. Your future content calendars will thank you for utilizing pieces of your strategy that find success, and dropping some of the duds along the way. Here are a few things to consider planning your calendar around:
- Industry Events/Conferences
- Upcoming Product Releases
- Marketing Trends
What does a successful content calendar look like to you? Let us know in the comments section!