How to Create a Content Marketing Plan and Calendar
Content marketing is about providing people with valuable information to create relationships, not just selling a product or service. According to Forbes, “89% of B2B marketers and 86% of B2C marketers report they are using content marketing to increase leads and drive their brand forward.”
Creating a calendar for your content marketing could quite possibly be the most important step as it helps increase efficiency, establishes a regular cadence, and prevents key dates and deadlines from being missed.
Here are 4 steps to create a plan and calendar for your content marketing.
Step 1: Identify your audiences, topics of focus & content outlets
Sit down with a group of employees from different departments throughout the company to determine your key audiences. At Burdette Ketchum, we focus on communicating to three primary groups: current clients, potential clients, and current or potential employees. Every piece of our content speaks to one of these three audiences.
Next, with that same group of internal stakeholders, discuss which areas of company expertise you want to create content around that aligns with your business goals. Compare your list of topics to what your competitors are currently talking about and focus on what they do not address. This will help set you apart and break through the clutter. Also, think about any customer questions, concerns or pain points and address them frequently in your content.
Now it’s time to decide where you will talk to your audience. Your list of content outlets should include everything from your company blog and email newsletter to social media channels. Determine which audience or audiences you will be speaking to on each outlet and the topics that are appropriate for each. For example, our Burdette Ketchum blog has long-form content aimed at all three of our audiences, but our Instagram channel has content that focuses on culture and day-to-day operations aimed primarily at current and potential employees. Remember, it may not be appropriate to be on every outlet possible so do not waste your time publishing in places where your audience will not see your content.
Step 2: Evaluate your content resources
Before you make a robust content calendar, be sure you first have the resources to support your content offerings. Look at what content you already have available that could be repackaged or repurposed for a new communications platform. Content can be in the form of videos, surveys, infographics, or whitepapers. Be efficient and utilize content you currently have available.
Also, consider how much time you have available for content creation. Don’t commit to posting a 1,000-word blog post every week if you only have time for one per month. If you only have time to create and repurpose content for three outlets, then focus on making those three outlets the most effective for conveying your message to your audiences.
Step 3: Create a content marketing calendar
Now that you have created all of your content, put it into an actual calendar. Details are important! Instead of writing ‘publish blog post’ on Monday, include the title of the post, the outlets it will be published to, any copy that will accompany it and the time of day for the post. Keep in mind that each publishing platform should have its own tone and style. For example, your LinkedIn page should have different style posts than your Facebook page.
A calendar can be built in Microsoft Excel, a digital calendar or an app. If you are looking for an easy and downloadable template, here are a few we recommend:
- Free editorial calendar template from Hubspot
- 9 free marketing calendar templates for Excel from Smartsheet
Step 4: Publish, review analytics & optimize
At the beginning of each day or week, schedule your content to publish to each outlet. Each month, review the analytics for your content outlets and look at measurements such as number of views, engagement, number of shares, traffic to your website, etc. Then, make adjustments to your calendar based on trends you see that could optimize your content.
Content calendars are not etched in stone; think of it as a living document that is continually changing and evolving when necessary. Planning a month or a quarter ahead of time is recommended to ensure you’re prepared but not spending time and resources planning content a year from now that may become obsolete.