Content Calendars: Organized and Organic

Create structure and a process for generating content.

Diana Lillicrap 12.11.2012

One of the most useful tools we use for our own marketing is our content calendar. It’s not fancy—it’s in Word. And it’s really not very complicated.

It lists the months across the top and our various marketing channels down the side. We then fill in the boxes with planned content for each month. The key function it provides is a framework for our efforts that keeps us strategic, focused, and accountable.

And what I love most about our calendar is that it organizes our content for the year and still embraces the value of organic ideas. Let’s face it, most of us work in industries where things are changing so quickly we need to have a fluid process for marketing or we’ll be outdated by second quarter.

So if you want to start 2013 with a content plan that is strategic and current, here are a few tips:

  1. Think about themes. What are the 3 – 5 big ideas you want to promote this year? Maybe it’s a new product launch or a new way you’re doing things. Or it can simply be your core values. The point is to start with these big ideas and then plan to create content that supports them.
  2. Define channels broadly. When you think about where and how you market, don’t just include the obvious places on your calendar. For instance, we include a line for lunches with advocates. This reminds us to set up a lunch every month with someone who may refer us to a new client. If we didn’t plan for this avenue of marketing, it would probably never happen.
  3. Name your authors. When assigning content to a particular month (or week or day, depending upon the complexity of your plan), be specific about who will be generating it. If you plan to write a white paper, assign it to an individual, not a department. If you plan to have a guest author on your blog, line them up now. Accountability happens on a first-name basis.
  4. Leave some holes. This is the organic part, but it should still be organized so it actually happens. This can be in the form of assigning someone to write about a trend, a news item, or an industry observation. You won’t know what the trends are going to be six months from now, so don’t be too specific. But do be specific about who will do it (see #3) and using what channel.
  5. Be open to change. Once you have your plan in place, remember that it will need to be reviewed, revised, and reworked throughout the year. Tracking your progress, changing or adding assignments, and moving things around as needed will keep it useful and relevant for the full year.

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