I always get a kick out of seeing the predicable patterns in human behaviour at this time of the year.
With January now underway, gym memberships are flying off the shelf, detox programs are going gangbusters, magazine covers promising you ‘your most amazing year ever’ are being read en-masse and dating apps are recording their busiest online dating month of the year.
I’m not going to lie, I’ve subscribed to at least three of the four items above – but there’s something even more important I do at this time every year.
My content marketing calendar.
As humble a tool as the content calendar may seem, nothing prepares your business better to communicate to customers, showcase your products and strengthen your brand than a proper schedule, prepared ahead of time.
Just so we’re all on the same page, a good content marketing calendar isn’t a desk calendar with some days filled in. It’s your strategic plan, your guiding light – an amazing opportunity to incorporate your business and marketing goals into one machine that will deliver the right messages, to the right audience at the right time.
At this point you may be asking yourself…
Well, whether I’m designing the marketing communications plan for Kick&Co or for our clients, these are the fundamentals necessary for success:
You never can underestimate this one. Whether it’s a content calendar for your social media platforms, or your entire business, before you put pen to paper you need to have a broad understanding about the environment you operate within.
Some handy questions to ask include: What are your businesses values and why do you exist? Who are your competitors? Who is your audience and how can you segment different groups? What are their fears and desires? What is impacting your industry now and into the future?
Getting a big-picture view is a critical first step before it comes time to set goals.
2. Goal setting
Most business owners and marketing managers know they need a content calendar, but don’t necessarily understand why. If you can’t clearly define the purpose of your content calendar and what it’s setting out to achieve, then (and I’m going to be tough here), you’re going to fail before you start.
Before I start my content calendars, I develop goals using these
questions: Why are we creating a calendar? How will our plan assist us to meet
business goals (e.g. grow sales), What does success look like and how will we
measure it? What are the 3, 6, 9 and 12 month milestones?
Key takeaway? Set goals before you start.
Straightforward and important – brands should have ‘one voice.’ I’ve seen some crazy examples of misalignment between content calendars and other areas of businesses where outward communications look, feel and sound completely different from the execution used in other touchpoints (for example, customer contracts or automated responses).
Good content calendars are incorporated across all marketing and administration functions – and great ones are socialised across the entire business. This way, all staff interacting with customers are conveying a consistent message.
4. Audience targeting
An extension of the research component, once you’ve defined your different audience groups, it’s important to flesh out demographics and psychographics. The more detail you can collect about the various people in your audience groups, the better you can craft messages that they’ll care about and which will motivate them to action.
5. Quality execution
And so we come to the crunch. All the work that goes into the aforementioned steps ultimately hinges on the development of good quality content in order to be a success.
For me, good quality content means content (print or digital) that resonates with your audience, is easily understood and is written/produced with flair.
We’re saturated in messages from businesses every day, so do yourself a favour and ensure yours are easy on the eye and prepared by a professional.
Need a hand?
By now you’re either feeling motivated to get cracking on your plan, or you’re shaking your head and shouting ‘I ain’t got time for the that!’
If it’s the latter, you’re in luck, because developing strategic content marketing plans for clients is one of our favourite jobs. Whether it’s a comms plan for your entire marketing efforts, or specific to one area (like digital marketing), we’ll help ensure your messages are well-planned, targeted and beautifully executed. Get in touch to get the ball rolling.
In the meantime, here’s to a successful New Year – and possibly bumping into each other at the gym.