One of the best ways to connect with customers is ongoing content — blogs, emails, webinars, social media! But if you’re like many business owners, you’ve probably found yourself stuck on a big question: What on earth do I talk about?
That’s why you need a content calendar.
A content calendar gives you a plan for the month, the season or even the whole year. And while that level of planning may sound intimidating, we’re going to show you how to make it as simple and painless as possible!
1. Make Sure You Have an Overall Marketing Plan
Creating good content takes precious time, so make sure your efforts are aligned with your overall goals. A marketing plan will help you determine your marketing goals and what efforts you can realistically put into meeting them.
If you’ve never made one before, check out our free marketing plan mini-course. Then, move on to step two, where we’ll explore your first source of content inspiration.
2. Outline Your Buyer’s Journey
Your buyer’s journey can be a never-ending source of content ideas. Outline every stage that your buyer goes through on their journey. This may look different depending on your business, but your stages will generally look something like this:
- Realizing there’s a problem
- Researching solutions
- Deciding on a solution
- Experiencing the solution
- Upkeep or follow-up care
- Repurchasing service and/or recommending to friends
You may find that some stages need to be broken down further. Do what makes the most sense for your service and customers. Next, write down the challenges and questions your buyers might have at each stage of the journey.
What questions can you answer? What solutions do you provide? These are all highly relevant topics you should be talking about with your customers. Write them down and categorize them, either by the journey stage or by topic categories. Keep these topics in mind as you move on to step three.
3. Outline Your Promotions, Holidays and Seasons
It’s time to start marking up the calendar of your choice. If you’re old school, you’ll love this massive, year-at-a-glance wall calendar. If you like everything online, try a free calendar program like Asana or Monday.
Start with concrete events:
- What promotions are you planning for this year?
- What holidays will you recognize?
Mark all of these on your calendar. Then, start thinking seasonally:
- Are any of your products or services especially helpful in certain seasons?
- Are there things related to your business that your clients should be doing on their own at different times of the year?
- If you sell a product, does it need any kind of special care at different times of the year?
Mark the beginning and end of each season and note any themes you want to cover during that time of year. Your industry’s seasons may not fit the standard winter, spring, summer and fall calendar. That’s OK. Create a calendar that’s relevant to you and your customers.
Now, looking at what you’ve marked, what topics will be relevant for these various promotions, holidays and seasons? Do any of the themes flow into or out of each other? Mark down the big pieces of content you want to create based on these themes.
(Note: You don’t have to fill in specific content for the entire year at this point. Feel free to take it a few months at a time or at whatever pace works best for you.)
4. Fill in (Most of) the Blanks
Now that you have your promotional and seasonal content planned out, it’s time to fill in most of the blanks. (In step five, we’ll go over why it’s good to leave a few blanks on your content calendar.)
At this point, go back to the buyer’s journey you outlined in step two. What topics are already covered on your calendar? Are there pieces of the buyer’s journey that would be helpful leading up to or coming out of any of the seasons? Are there other important topics that don’t fit into any season but should be covered all the same? Answer these questions and fill in your blanks!
5. Leave Space for Reactive Marketing
Ultimately, your content calendar is simply a guide, not a rule book. You don’t have to follow it to a T. Throughout the year, customers might ask unexpected questions. Something big might happen in your industry — or your own business. Leave space in your calendar for the surprises. Move things around when you need to.
Read our blog on reactive marketing to learn how you can take advantage of every opportunity. And if you have questions, be sure to connect with us on social media for more tips!