“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” An editorial calendar is an essential part of your strategy.
Planning your editorial calendar
So you’ve made a commitment to implementing Content Marketing to boost sales and grow your enterprise. But, how can you get organized? How can you make sure you’re putting out timely, valuable content that will engage your customers and drive business to you? Oh yeah, you’ve also got a business to run, sales calls to make and a number of other tasks that are critical.
Coordinating your content in strategic fashion can enhance its value ten-fold (and keep your sanity), and the most efficient way to start mapping out that plan is by creating an editorial calendar. And as you’ll see, making your calendar an effective tool is more than simply filling in those numbered squares on a page.
Step One – Brainstorming. Before you start committing specific, singular events and posts to the page, open up a 12-month calendar in front of you and your executive planning team or chief lieutenants. Pinpoint benchmarks and general and specific things you intend to achieve in the coming year, and select the desired dates for accomplishing those objectives.
Step Two – Framing. Block out specific, immutable dates like holidays; company and industry events, such as conventions, conferences, et al.; then add dates for proposed product launches; service announcements or any planned new offerings in the coming year. Now you’ve got a framework on which to start building a fleshed-out strategy for your content initiatives.
Step Three – Strategizing. Begin mapping how your content (blog posts, newsletters, articles, videos, research, white papers, etc.) should be serialized for maximum effect in achieving a desired objective. For example: If you were rolling out a new mobile communications device Labor Day weekend, you’d probably want to start posting content relative to all the conveniences it would provide and problems it would solve for the consumer somewhere around July 4th. Build interest and demand by posting content that increases customer desire, and a sale is an organic conclusion- not the product of a hard-sell.
The Aligned Calendar
Once you’ve got a calendar mapped out, use it as a means to align your Sales & Marketing efforts. Have your salespeople weigh-in on the benchmarks that have been established and the content-based tools with which they will be provided, and then make any adjustments that might be needed. Once you’ve established a successful customer discovery, research & purchase cycle, you can try and extrapolate it to future product or service roll-outs.
The Collaborative Calendar
While nothing beats a wall calendar adorned with beautiful outdoor vistas or vintage Toulouse Lautrec poster images, that format is probably not the most efficient for plotting out a year’s worth of business strategies. Fortunately, the Internet is abundant with numerous, cloud-based, interactive calendars that not only serve in a traditional function, but as an effective inter-company communications tool as well. Google Calendars, of course, are probably pre-eminent, but Microsoft Outlook runs a close second, and products like the editorial calendars from the Content Marketing Institute are worth checking out, too.
Any system that allows your staff to make edits or add comments and informative notes can greatly streamline not only the Sales & Marketing processes, but overall company operations as well.
The Management Calendar
Many web-based calendars have multi-tiered functions that not only enhance inter-office communications, but can function as a management tool as well. Assign stories, set deadlines, track progress, and more. The days of the Managing Editor with the green eye-shade visor, yelling, “Where’s my copy?” are over. Status updates are a keyboard click away.
Calendars – Plus
Lots of interactive calendars also have functions that allow you to post collateral documents, enabling commentary, critiques, general notes, etc. But don’t get so caught up in the bells & whistles that you become calendar crazed. Its true value is in how it can help you map out your significant business plans and stick to them.
The quality of your content, the strategies of its implementation and the coordination of your marketing and sales efforts can be a complex and nuanced practice. And often times, professional, expert help can really aid you in implementing these initiatives effectively.
Put it on the Calendar
By the way, you don’t have to wait ‘til January to start mapping out your editorial calendar. Fiscal years start at a company’s discretion, and so can your Content Marketing annum.
Above and beyond the improved results of your inbound marketing strategies, you’re likely to find that launching an Editorial Calendar may help you define your overall business objectives as well.
Remember, nothing is written in stone, so it doesn’t mean you can’t be flexible. The dynamics of the marketplace shift and accelerate, and your calendar can adjust accordingly.
And one more benefit: A well-populated, regularly-employed calendar will literally keep everyone in your company on the same page.