Woot! It’s the second update in my Summer Lovin blog series!

summer lovin

click here for previous articles in the series

Today we are talking about prep for creating an editorial calendars. If the idea of having an editorial calendar makes you want to jab pushpins into your eyes, please consider thinking of the phrase “content plan” or some other less-offensive terminology.

Simply put, you need some kind of document to keep yourself organized. You’ve got a business plan, right? A marketing plan? So, if you are going to use content to market your business, you need a content plan – or, as I prefer, an editorial calendar.

editorial calendar

(Here are those push-pins, for use in the event of an emergency.)

I’ll keep bringing up this editorial calendar concept all month, so you know you’re going to have to start one (or start using the one you already have). But before you dive deep in, I want you to do a quick check of five things you need before you start planning an editorial calendar.

1. A Profile of Your Ideal Customer

Whenever I start a new project with a client, I ask about who the ideal customer(s) are. This is so important, if you don’t know this then please stop and write it down!

You need a really clear picture about your customers, because when you sit down to write a blog post, draft an eBook, prepare a Pinterest photo gallery, a contest, a white paper…. who are you writing it for? What kind of style do they prefer? What are you competing with: Cosmopolitan, Computerworld, or Criminal Minds?

How does this influence your content plans? This profile will tell you how often you should be publishing content, and it also tells you how to deliver your content in the best ways for that reader.

2. A Skills & Equipment Assessment.

Now that we have assessed your customer, it’s time to assess you. (No judging – this isn’t a beach body contest – let’s keep it real.) This assessment is a bit like a traditional SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Threats, Opportunities) analysis, which is one of the few business plan-like documents I actually use, so perhaps you want to think of it this way.

Some questions you should be answering in this assessment:

  • Time vs Money: Do you have the time to create content? If not, what kind of help do you need, and what’s your budget?
  • Do you (or someone on your team) have a way with words or handy behind the camera lens? If not, who you going to get to help?
  • Are you able to update your website to add blog posts, white papers, etc.? If not, what is in the way?

How does this influence your content plans?  This assessment tells you what resources you need to move forward, and will also highlight your risks.

3. Customer feedback.

You want some feedback from your customers on the type(s) of content they would find interesting and useful. However, getting said feedback is not straightforward – if you said “hey, customer, we’re making some awesome blog posts, what should we write about?” the answer would be, I suspect, crickets.

The types of questions you should be asking are very different depending on your business. For example, if you’re an ice cream that offers take-home treats, maybe your customers customers are always asking you how to use your product (recipes, how to keep ice cream cold on the drive home, etc.) But a restaurant’s answer on how to use their product would be different – maybe they’re asking about places to go for live music in the neighborhood after dinner.

Still struggling? Please read my previous article: 5 Mistakes You are Making when Getting Customer Feedback

How does this influence your content plans?  Getting feedback helps you focus on using content to answer questions, solve problems, and build relationships, as opposed to being an annoying salesperson.

4. Your marketing plan.

Ok, if your marketing consist of haphazard efforts that somehow magically come together in the end, I’m going to look the other way right now. However, “getting the word out” is pretty darned important for every business, so I really do hope you have a plan of some sorts.

Today’s topic is not about making marketing plans, but I want you to pull that file up and have it in front of you while you are pondering your content plans, because the two need to work together. And it’s a two way street: your editorial calendar should probably feature some of your other marketing efforts (blog posts for events, for example), but also your marketing plan needs to reflect content as one of your inbound marketing efforts (allocate budget appropriately, put blog/website/etc. links on other marketing materials.)

How does this influence your content plans?  You need to know not only how you will promote your content, but also, how does your content fit in with your other marketing & promotional efforts.

5. Finally, answer this key question.

My apologies if I have exhausted you thus far, dear reader; however, I’ve seen so many companies leap head-first into marketing their business with content, only to fail quickly because they didn’t realize that content is a marathon, not a sprint. Consider this just the warm up for what’s to come, and if you need to spend some time here stretching and strengthening some weak muscles, please do so.

The last item you need to make your content calendar planning complete is the answer to this question: What do you hope to achieve?

Before you rush to say “make more money!” – let me share a couple of the things that content is really good for:

  • Creating brand awareness
  • Building relationships
  • Encouraging repeat business
  • Enabling referrals

How does this influence your content plans?  If you don’t know what success looks like, how will you know when you get there?


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