Develop a Content Plan to Keep the Funnel Flowing

Follow these four steps to create an editorial calendar that helps your content marketing efforts stay on track.

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Content marketers — and traditional marketers wanting to leverage content — face a major, ongoing challenge: What are you going to write about? Closely linked to this issue are the questions of when should your content be distributed, through what channels — and who is responsible for making it all happen? Thankfully, one document and some good planning can help you address all of these concerns and more: an editorial calendar.

An editorial calendar can help you decide on your content topics and types in advance, so you aren’t scrambling for ideas at the last minute. It also helps you stay organized long-term by identifying workflow, deadlines, responsibilities and more. Plus, it provides a 10,000-foot view of your overall content marketing initiative to help ensure each piece fits into a cohesive vision and stays true to your overall strategy.

So how do you go about creating this critical document? It’s not as daunting as it sounds. Read on for four straightforward steps to get it done.

Step 1: Gather the team for a brainstorm.

There’s no reason that you alone need to come up with all the content ideas. In fact, you’re likely to create a more well-rounded calendar that meets a wide range of company goals by pulling in other key players. This can include product/service line leaders, a customer service director and other members of the marketing department.

Even with a good team, though, brainstorms can start off slowly, hit sticking spots and move off-topic. Use questions like these to get people talking, start ideas flowing and keep your team focused:

  • What questions or concerns do you frequently hear from customers?
  • Do you have any customer surveys, research or other material that provides added insight on what is of interest to your audience?
  • What consumer lifestyle needs and interests can you tie to your products and services?
  • What products or services need increased awareness?
  • Are there any company-wide campaigns or initiatives you can leverage or complement?
  • What financial topics are trending in the news?

It can be helpful to list ideas under categories as you go — for instance, different personal finance topics, seasons, etc. One rule of thumb: Don’t worry about narrowing down the ideas at this stage — just gather everything you can.

Step 2: Organize your ideas into a calendar.

This is the step where you begin sifting out ideas that don’t really work and zeroing in on the most promising content candidates. As you make your picks, organize them into a single document — the actual editorial calendar. This can be as simple as an Excel spreadsheet or Word table. Or you can opt for content management tools like Kapost and Divvy HQ.

When deciding where to fit each topic into the timeline, consider the following:

  • What are your quarterly goals?
  • When are product launches or updates slated to roll out?
  • Do you have specific sales cycles or product focuses throughout the year?
  • Does natural seasonality affect your business?
  • What major holidays could you align content with?
  • What industry or community events could you align content with?

Once your calendar is full, save any unused ideas in a story bank — you never know when they might come in handy.

Step 3: Fill in helpful details.

Besides corralling and organizing content ideas, your calendar can act as a single source to provide an overview of your content plan and to help you and your team keep on track.

For instance, you can add details like the following for each content piece:

  • Type (newsletter article, blog post, video, infographic, Facebook post, etc.)
  • Channel(s) where content will be published
  • Target audience (single millennial, small-business owner, prospective homebuyer, etc.)
  • Call to action and/or desired response from audience (open a checking account, call a loan officer, etc.)
  • Team member(s) responsible for providing the content
  • Internal deadlines
  • Desired publish date
  • Performance metrics

Step 4: Review regularly, revise as needed.

Things change — corporate goals alter, new products and services are announced (or delayed), consumer trends shift and so on. That means your content calendar may need to change, too, especially if you’re planning far in advance. Be sure to review your calendar at regular intervals — at least quarterly — to ensure the topics still make sense and work where you’ve scheduled them. Then enjoy some peace of mind knowing you have a complete content plan in place!

Having content ideas is one thing. Developing the content itself can be quite another. If you need help, Ready2Go Solutions is here for you, with a convenient, affordable content solution. We offer hundreds of content pieces that are complete and ready for you to purchase, download and use today — or anywhere you need to fill in a blank in your calendar.