You open the pantry to look for a snack only to find that the shelves are bare. In the end you spend money on takeout that you didn’t want or need. Wouldn’t it have been easier and cheaper if you had planned ahead?
The same is true for your content plan.
If you don’t spend the time planning out your content in advance, you will end up scrambling for content to share on the go…or even worse, completely forgetting your content in its whole.
Did you know that 70 per cent of marketers lack a consistent and integrated content strategy (Altimeter)? Did you also know that content marketing was the top activity pinpointed as having the largest commercial impact on businesses in 2018 by business owners and executives in a recent survey (Smart Insights)?
A content calendar is an important tool for businesses today. It can save you time and money (no wasting your own or your employee’s time trying to come up with topic areas off the top of your head), keeps you on topic and inline with your goals, and ensures you always have quality content on hand.
With the new year upon us, there’s no better time to start mapping out your content calendar than now. Here’s my top tips on getting your calendar underway.
1. Take a little time to think about your priorities first.
First think about the time and resources you currently have available. How much time can you realistically apply to your content marketing? 15minutes a day? A couple of hours a week? Or do you have an in-house or external marketing team who can deliver your plan?
Your second priority is to consider your customer’s personas. Who are they? Where do they like to eat? What car do they drive? How much do they earn and what’s their occupation? Mapping out your key (or ideal) customer’s personas will help you determine the content that is most appropriate. The personas and content you focus on will depend on your marketing and business goals.
And that’s the next consideration. What are your business and marketing goals? Having a goal to work towards through your content marketing will help you measure your efforts and determine whether you are heading in the right direction.
2. Identify your content approach.
What channels are your customers or clients using (such as LinkedIn, Facebook, forums, etc.)? Where are they already? It’s easier to communicate in a platform that your customers or clients are already using rather than trying to draw them elsewhere. Do your research and create profiles for the mediums that work best for you.
What kind of content works best for your business (video, photos, blog posts, podcasts, etc.)? This question is both an internal and customer-focused question. What content methods are you happy to use? Do you feel comfortable in front of a video camera? Is writing a strength of yours? What content will be most engaging to your customers?
If you are targeting busy professionals, a podcast might be the best approach as your potential customers can listen to your content while on the road travelling between appointments.
Select your content types so you can easily map out content subjects and types against your personas, channels and timeline.
3. Create a list of content topics.
Here are a few suggestions to draw content ideas from:
- Start jotting down any questions you receive from your customers or clients. Common questions and answers can be highly engaging content and can save your team time answering the same questions over and over again by making the information readily available. Make a habit of saving your questions in a note on your phone or in a notebook easily accessible at your desk.
- Brainstorm the issues or concerns that your customers or clients have and think about how your business products and services can help fulfil those needs. Use your content as a means to share the good news about the services your business provides – don’t be shy. Just make sure your content focuses on the customer, rather than yourself, i.e. how your services/products help and can make a difference to them.
- Think about the topic areas that are prevalent in your industry. What are people talking about? How can you contribute to that conversation? What research is available or can you provide your own research? Make a note of anything that comes to mind.
- Leverage your current content activities to determine future content. Are you getting more likes or engagement on your social media channels for a certain topic area over others? Are more people viewing a particular blog post? Leverage this engagement by creating content that builds off those topic areas.
Once you’ve determined channels, content types, topics and the frequency of your content to fulfil your goals, the best way to stay on track is to map out your content in a 12 month content calendar.
And lastly, remember that quality content is always better than quantity and consistency is key. If you are struggling to stay on top of this important marketing tool and the content you’ve mapped out, consider bringing in more resources or outsourcing to a professional content marketing team.
Alyssa Gill is the Founder and Chief Wordsmith of Squib Communications, a Newcastle-based marketing agency specialising in all things content marketing. With a love for the written word and fascination with how content and inbound marketing can help businesses to grow and secure an influential footing in their industry, Alyssa has worked with small, medium and large businesses looking to take their marketing to the next level.
Alyssa is also the Co-founder of Newcastle Business Book Club, a networking-based organisation that brings like-minded professionals together over the insights of some of the world’s most influential business books and authors.