Creating great content is really hard for businesses – fact. For the simple reason is the people who all know about the stuff businesses need to share all have a day job!
But if you don’t have a content marketing calendar, you will be missing out on pre-qualified leads via referral traffic in a big way. The effect of this on your business is that your marketing investment will be less effective.
So What exactly is a Content Marketing Calendar?
Simply speaking, it is just a tool to help you plan and execute your content marketing strategy. Scheduled over time, it’s a plan that details the insights and topics you want to address in a way that showcases your proposition. What you want to say and when in needs to be published.
This might be blogs, case studies, articles, or industry relevant social media posts. In an ideal world, the content should all start from your blog or website to enable interested readers a destination with which to engage further.
Focus the timings around any relevant milestones in your own business, the general and industry calendars. From Valentines Day to key industry events to your own product and service launches, the tighter the relevancy, the better will be the interest and engagement and hence potential returns.
Why do I Need One?
Unfortunately, because of the day job effect, content marketing looses effectiveness if its done adhoc. If you try and do it like that, the output is not going to be regular and articles will get delayed. Your target audience needs regular engagement, or they will switch off.
If the content requirements are calendarised, with explicit deadlines agreed, its likely that your audience will see a structured stream of valuable content. If they are on a email list, then a calendar guarantees you’ll hit the monthly emails on time – there is nothing worse than gaps in an outbound email campaign.
A well planned content marketing calendar ensures you have quality content published to leverage the the most of events like new product launches or website redesigns as well as external events.
What does a content marketing calendar look like?
Depending on how frequently you need to publish content, the calendar needs to address key periods in your business plan. A good start is 6 months out. Map out the key events by month over that period. If you are a fast moving B2C business, such as a coffee roaster, then you probably need to be publishing content daily and your content calendar will be detailed for a month, and the rest of the period populated with general topics.
Or if you are a commercial interior design, then your content marketing calendar can be mapped out with at least one key piece of content per month. But this might be a solid case study demonstrating how you solved a problem for a client or insight into using a new material of interest to your target audience.
What to publish
The single biggest mistake we see a lot of businesses make is to push their products. Sadly this is quickest way of turning your audience off. The online audiences are savvy – and that never really worked anyway because people hate being sold to – they like to feel that they have made the choice.
The purpose of content marketing is to build interest and trust through ‘showing’ not ‘telling’. Sharing insight and expertise demonstrates you know what you are talking about and sharing customer experiences through case studies demonstrates that you can do what you say you do, but also that your customer gained value from this. If the majority of posts/articles follow this pattern, its acceptable to add a bit of product push, but sparingly.
Instead of blatant product push, its much more effective to concentrate on articles about identified pain points, or needs, that your target audience may experience that you can offer a solution to. Then a product push is relevant and is not seen as unsolicited.
Outsourcing vs in-House Content Creation
Back to the biggest problem – the day job issue. The people in the business with the most knowledge have day jobs – salesmen, engineers, product marketing etc, and in our experience absolutely hate writing content. But they do see the need for it, and by putting in place an actionable plan, that they’ve agreed to, means that the job of chasing for the detail is difficult to refuse.
Outsourcing the process alleviates the hit on internal resource, but the kernel of the content must come from the experts – this can be a call or bullet points. Its much easier for the experts with a day job edit and approve a finished piece than start from scratch.
The content needs to be optimised for search – and that is another complete topic, because a good content plan can also target gaps in your search engine rankings.