Want to establish yourself as a credible authority within your target market and a trusted resource among your prospects and loyal clients? Want search engines to love you and conversions to rise? Then putting out valuable and relevant content is critical to your success. To be most effective in your online marketing, your content should be both useful and fresh. So sitting down now to develop a content calendar for 2016 will help you stay consistent and stick to your plan throughout the year.
Step 1: Start by looking over your business calendar and business goals for the year.
An effective content strategy is one that is integral with your overall business plan, not separate. So weave content strategy into your business building activities throughout the year. Are there seasons that affect your business, cycles, launches, or events that you need to keep in mind? Will you be looking to generate more leads prior to anticipated slow periods? Will you be trying to convert more customers from your community during a launch? Every piece of content you produce and share over the year should move you closer to your goals, so stay laser focused on those goals as you plan.
Step 2: Do an audit (keep the best and scrap the rest).
Evaluate which content worked well for you this year and which didn’t. Was your audience gobbling up your podcast but skipping over your YouTube videos? Was your blog a hit, but you barely heard a peep about your webinars? Did your Tuesday morning emails get opened and read, but your Saturday afternoon emails got skipped? Did “how to” blog posts spike traffic but industry news posts barely got a blip?
Get clear on what you can tweak and improve and what you’d rather repurpose or toss aside. Consider breaking down what you already have into smaller chunks (an e-book into blog posts), and building up what you’ve started into something more robust (an audio transcript into a book). As you move into the new year, concentrate on getting the most bang for your buck.
Step 3: Determine what your market wants and needs to know.
What questions, concerns, reservations, and objections come up for your customers during the buying process? Look back over the past year and think about how you provided this information in the past and how you might have done it differently. Brainstorm topics that you can cover in your content to educate, inform, and inspire your audience of potential buyers and customers.
For each topic you come up with, dive deep and go broad with the various ways, angles, aspects, perspectives, and fresh approaches to similar material. Think from your customer’s’ viewpoint and focus on what they will find most useful.
Step 4: Take stock in your assets and assess your needs.
As you develop your calendar for the year, set yourself up for success rather than disappointment. Concentrate on what you can handle, and avoid biting off more than you can chew right now.
There are some vital questions to ask yourself to avoid getting overwhelmed and to ensure the content you produce is top notch. For example: Where will the content be shared and in what format? How much time do you need to develop each piece of content? Who will be responsible for developing different aspects of the content? Which team members will contribute to the process? If you’re writing, do you need help proofreading, formatting, or finding an accompanying image? If you’re recording a podcast, will you need support from an audio engineer? Make sure you have the appropriate resources in place and team on board to carry out your content plans successfully.
Step 5: Map it out.
What content will you cover on a daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis? Consider breaking topics into themes and assign certain types of material to certain days of the week or certain seasons of the year. When will you post blog entries, update social media accounts, and send out newsletters? On what dates will you host webinars? How often will you produce a new case study? How will you plug your launch and promotional content into your regular content schedule without overwhelming your list? Remember to take holidays, summer vacations, and personal time off into account.
Your content calendar is a living breathing part of your business. Nothing is set in stone, but the more of these questions you answer in advance, the less you will leave to uncertainty as you get busy running your business all year. Sometimes coming up with a topic to cover takes longer than writing about it. Your actual content calendar can be as clean and simple or as intricate and complex as you like, depending on your business size and needs. Put in the time and effort to plan and create some structure to follow, and you’ll be happy with the results.
Need help creating your content calendar for 2016? Give us a shout.