We’ve all written a great deal about the value of inbound marketing and using content to pull in prospects. But how do you make sure you’re planning your content to deliver the most value to your business? With a content calendar. The secret is to build a content calendar so that the content you’re delivering really maps to your core business objectives. Otherwise, it’s like you’re going on a cross country road trip without a map.
There are 5 key steps to building a content or editorial calendar that will serve your business well. Follow these steps and you’re certain to see how you can use your content to drive your business in the direction you want it to take.
1. Get the calendar out. The best way to start building a content calendar is to physically start with a calendar and put all the holidays on there. Start with the statutory holidays and the holidays that you plan to take throughout the year. If you record your holidays now, then you’ll know where you’ve got to fill in content when you’re actually out of the office.
If you think about the calendar holidays and seasons now, you can actually plan out the content that makes the most sense for your business. Regardless of the holiday or event, with a little thought you can create some content that’s relevant to those holidays.
2. Map Your Core Business Objectives to Your Content Calendar. This is really important and suprisingly, so many business owners overlook this critical point. The whole reason for creating content is to drive your business forward so let’s make that content relevant to whatever objectives you set for your business.
If you’re launching a new product or service, you can use your content to prime interest in this new offering. Remember, rather than outwardly promoting your solutions, you want to demonstrate that you deliver a solution to the problem they’re trying to solve so create your content that way. Use the same concept for any other parts of your business you’d like to promote. The key is to produce content around your products and services that’s valuable, educational, and builds trust.
This is where you should also look to your marketing calendar and translate that calendar directly into your content calendar. Be sure to reverse engineer any programs or special promotions you plan to offer so that you’re introducing the content early enough to spark people’s interest.
3. Strategic Partners. After you’ve filled in your calendar to map to your marketing calendar and your business objectives, it’s time to look to what you can do with your strategic partners. Look to see when they have events or programs you could promote. Interviews with your strategic partners also make for great.
Guest posts have become very popular as well. You could offer to write a post for a colleagues blog in exchange for one of your own. If your partners have other content like white papers or ebooks, there is also opportunity to promote those pieces that have value for your audience. At the end of the day, it’s about you being a high quality, complete source of information for your audience.
4. Developing a Series. A series could take a number of different formats. It could be a series of posts on a certain topic that is timely and relevant or it could actually be a type of content that you’ll post on a regular basis. It could be a post that you write on a weekly or monthly basis about the latest tools or technology or it could be a video interview series that you’re doing with authors in your industry.
Some popular concepts for a series could be “Wordless Wednesdays” and that could be that every Wednesday you post some video content. Maybe a CPA firm or law firm decides to integrate some humor into its content with a weekly cartoon. There are a number of ways to add a series to your content calendar–it’s just a matter of putting it down on the calendar so you know what you need and when you need it.
5. Look to your most popular posts. At this point, your calendar will have some remaining holes and it’s time go back and fill those with more content on the most popular topics you’ve written to date. If a topic received a number of shares or comments, that’s proof that the topic is of importance to your audience. Those topics that get shares and comments are helping your audience solve problems or answer the problems they’re experiencing. Take the time to map out the topics that get the most traction with your audience and be sure to plan out those pieces in your calendar.
We all have a tremendous amount of content at our fingertips. It’s just a matter of taking a strategic look at how you can deliver that content over time to help you accomplish your business objectives. And putting these details right into a calendar will help you deliver the right content at the right time.
I’d love to hear about any other concepts you’ve used to plan your content and the success that you’ve experienced as a result.