There has been an upward shift in understanding the importance of content in generating traffic, leads and ultimately, incremental revenue, for businesses of all types. Typically, the succeeding realization is the need for efficiently managing content - from defining the topical direction of content to managing writing resources and deadlines. The critical tool for this job is the mighty content or editorial calendar.
One of our key points of discussion when working with new clients is the fact that to stay competitive, they need to consider themselves publishers. As you would expect, the reaction to that statement is very similar to the one evoked when notified that the IRS would like to do a comprehensive audit of their financials. For the last seven years. Right up there with a root canal!
The reality of embracing inbound marketing is that in order to be readily discovered by potential customers online, businesses have to maintain a steady drumbeat of relevant, engaging - and if we're really working it - awesome content. That segues nicely into the # 1 reason for a calendar.
- Instill Commitment. Talking about content creation is one thing but when you take the time to build a content calendar and it's staring you in the face every day, it reinforces the commitment to create. For many companies, the point at which the calendar is created (and widely disseminated) signals the big step over the line towards consistent publishing.
- Provide Accountability. Regardless of whether you're using internal staff or external resources to develop your content, the placement of a name, keyword subject matter, deadline dates and publishing dates holds everyone involved in the content creation process accountable.
- Encourage Long Term Planning. Let's face it - everyone is busy and it is very easy to be late or completely miss important publishing dates because of the lack of planning. Calendars allow a broader view of the work ahead and remove much of the frenzied, chaotic scrambling inherent in winging content production. Winging it is not sustainable, planning with a calendar is. The content's quality will see a lift as well, simply because there's better time management in producing it.
- Provide an Overview of Future Content. Once a business incorporates a content calendar into their content development process, it becomes much easier to quickly scan forward (and backwards for that matter) to ensure that the content assets are tracking with business objectives and keyword strategy. It's easier to duplicate messaging or over-saturate certain topics if you don't have that high level view.
- Allow for Integration of Effort. The content calendar can be one dimensional - say, strictly managing new content production or multi-dimensional - you can add events, publishing platforms and any other activities that have an impact on the type of content you're producing and the timing for publishing it. For example, you could have a webinar planned for the last week of the month and in the two weeks prior you release excerpts of an eBook that support the material to be covered in the webinar. You add entries for social publishing on your platforms of choice leading up to the eBook excerpt releases and the webinar itself and post-webinar you follow up with the creation of a thank you landing page with a form for downloading the entire eBook. With a calendar you have a better chance of providing maximum synergy for an event by timing content production and its publication.
In a follow up post (it's on my calendar for two weeks out!), I want to take a look at some of the methods of creating and managing a content calendar - with specific focus on a cool new tool designed to make this process infinitely easier.
As always, I'd love to get input on the topic of content calendars and I'm sure we could expand the top 5 list to 25!