7 Key Steps to Creating a Content Calendar and Fast-Forwarding Your Marketing Plans

What is the content you plan to share with your audience this year? Are there key themes to follow, or key vertical markets to explore more deeply? A content calendar—also called a content map or an editorial calendar—can help you track every piece of content you plan to distribute to your audiences this year. That includes big content assets like white papers and eBooks, but also can (and should) include marketing emails, landing pages, and even individual social media posts.

In short, a content calendar provides all the details you will need to execute on each piece of content and map out how it fits into the overall marketing mix. Keeping things organized and populated with as many details as you can contribute can help you fast-track your overall marketing program.

Here are some things to think about as you create your content calendar:

  1. Select meaningful content storylines—what types of content does your audience expect and need from you? Are longer pieces preferable, or do they digest shorter, blog-type posts better? Are how-to pieces of interest or does your content need to go deeper than that? Understanding what type of content will be valuable to your prospects is critical.
  2. Determine if this content is part of an ongoing campaign or stand-alone content. Most, if not all, of your content should be tied to a specific marketing campaign, although a few pieces may stand alone.
  3. Determine the audience for the content (including both vertical market if appropriate and what part of the marketing funnel it is for—awareness, consideration or purchase)
  4. Decide what form the content will originally take (white paper, blog, video, etc.), and then determine how it might be repurposed (more on that in a bit).
  5. Determine which channels it will be distributed through, including social media, public relations, trade shows, webinars, newsletters, etc.
  6. Establish timing, deadlines and word count
  7. Determine who the writer and author will be (this may be different people; you may choose to outsource some content to a third-party ghostwriter)

Once you’ve developed a content calendar, it’s time to focus on how to repurpose that content. Repurposing means taking one piece of content and using it in multiple forms and across multiple channels to increase return on investment. That means a white paper can be broken down to create a series of blogs, contributed articles, social media posts, infographics, speaker’s abstracts, abstracts for news pitching to media and analysts, and more. Likewise, a blog can be built on to create a white paper.

Repurposing can also mean taking a white paper, blog post and other forms of content and personalizing it for your different vertical markets. Content with good bones can be repurposed in several different ways. For example, here’s how a technical white paper might be repurposed:

  • Verticalize the white paper for each market you serve, for example:
    • Healthcare
    • Manufacturing
    • Oil & Gas
    • Agriculture
  • Draft sales lead outreach emails to personas along the Buyer’s Journey and have the email either sent by salespeople with white paper attached for free, or through your marketing automation tools
  • Set up a lead generation site and include the link in press releases, blog(s) and other distributable content. Capture leads using an online form
  • Develop 8-10 short pieces for the company blog or contributed blog to a third-party site (don’t forget your vertical markets!)
  • Develop sales collateral from the white paper to be distributed at a tradeshow or as a PDF online
  • Draft pitches to capture the attention of media and analysts
  • Draft speaker’s abstracts to capture the attention of event coordinators
  • Create an infographic if there are important statistics within the white paper
  • Create a short video series or podcast that pulls out the most important parts of the white paper

Creating a content calendar can keep you organized, but can also help you identify holes in your marketing strategy that might keep you from reaching your full potential with prospects. Creating a content calendar and keeping it up to day can ensure your marketing team is in sync with your sales organization, and fast-forward your marketing plan to the benefit of your company.

For more information on developing a content calendar as part of your overall content strategy, read our white paper Content Marketing Rocks. So Why Are You Still Struggling?

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