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One of the big questions that I get as a marketing coach is about creating a marketing calendar. Clients are asking about what they should include, and what platform they need to use to build it all out.
First – a disclaimer: after working in publishing for over 10 years, and having a lifetime love affair with the written word, I'm a big proponent of content being a key foundation in your marketing efforts. It's not just because of my background – in fact, your content could be a podcast or video series rather than blog posts if you prefer; its because content allows us to build long-term connections. Content allows us to share stories about our experiences. And it's through content that we learn about and from one another.
That's why my format for marketing calendars is based on the idea that you’re going to be creating some sort of content.
The Big Plan – Quarterly Content Planning
Once a quarter set aside some time to brainstorm content ideas that align with your areas of expertise and the needs of your audience. You should also go through the repository of inspiration articles that you’ve been collecting and any questions that you’ve saved from social media that you wanted to dive into more in-depth.
Then, make sure you’ve aligned these subjects with your products that address the subject. After all, the point of creating all this content is to generate sales.
You’ll determine the frequency on which you want to share content. I’ve heard recommendations that you should post 3 small 300 word posts per day. I’ve also seen companies be successful while creating just one amazing piece of content per month and repurposing it wisely. It’s really up to you on the frequency on which you can be consistent.
That consistency is key.
Monthly and Weekly Activities
After I've set my priorities for the quarter, I plan my specific content out by month and week. Then typically batch create that content for each month in a couple of day sprint. Then, I can pull out highlights for social media posts.
One day a week, I schedule my social media. I don’t tend to go too crazy with this because I want to be able to take advantage of hot and trending stories. I've seen a lot of systems that show you how you can schedule your social media out 30, 60, or even 90 days in advance.
Because I want to take advantage of seasonality and new, emerging trends and news, scheduling too far in advance means I’ll either have two content streams running simultaneously OR I’ll have to spend a lot of time on rescheduling.
The exception to all of this is if you have a live launch that you’re planning. Then plan up to 6 weeks of content in advance, and go ahead and schedule as much of it as seems reasonable. Launches are hard enough without trying to keep up with creating new messaging. Instead, focus your time on responding to questions about your program.
Marketing Calendar Tools
There are two sides to creating your marketing calendar: the process that I discussed above, and the tools that you can use to keep it all organized.
As much as I’d like to be able to point to some really handy or sophisticated piece of software, I start with pen & paper for brainstorming. If I'm feeling extra spunky, I pull out the multi-colored pens and markers.
Then I use a cheap calendar from Target to sketch out my target launch dates for each type of content.
After I've got everything outlined on paper, then I go to a spreadsheet where I can get much more granular about what dates I’m promoting content on each platform, etc. I use color-coding to keep track of what I have done and what still needs to be done.
I know a lot of people do their editorial calendar planning in Trello, which is also an amazing option if you prefer digital tools.
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