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Marketing Content Calendars—Inspiring, A Necessary Evil or Both?
Editorial calendars have been around for decades, and as content becomes more varied and prolific, this best practice is being applied more broadly to create marketing content calendars.
There are certainly some major benefits to creating a comprehensive marketing content calendar. Some of those benefits include:
Consistency in brand messaging: When there are several partners working together on behalf of a client, a content calendar can assure that all the bases are covered and that the tonality and content of the messaging are consistent.
Intentionality around frequency and cadence of messaging: It is not difficult for some part of the marketing effort to fall short due to other distractions. Maybe it’s that social media is not getting the focus it needs; the website has not been audited in a while; or a business unit has been neglected. A content calendar keeps you honest and ensures you’re looking at your entire plan to make sure each key initiative is receiving the focus it needs.
Idea and activity generation: When the client and key partners can see a complete picture through the marketing content calendar, it often spurs new thinking and generates ideas. An opportunity might be uncovered, or an idea may be generated that adds value and/or a potential ROI opportunity to the plan.
If you’re thinking about creating a content calendar, you have options.
Companies like Percolate and Kapost offer very robust platforms. Percolate’s clients include GE, Chobani and MasterCard. It is a heavyweight platform that states its goal is to be the Swiss Army knife of marketing software. Another player in the category is Kapost. The company has been named the strongest content marketing platform offering for B2B marketers by Forrester. Their client list includes LinkedIn, Lenova and IBM.
For smaller clients, a Google Doc is a solid option. With our client Ditch Witch, we used the calendar to focus six key verticals and built out a content calendar around each. We meet weekly as a team—client, PR firm and the agency—to make sure we are tracking, to brainstorm and to add to the calendar as necessary. On our Google Docs, we list the key vertical initiatives at the top and then the execution categories along the side: PR, social, web, paid media. We fill in the calendar by month, looking about four months out and filling in more detail the month prior.
It’s worth noting that there are some potential pitfalls to content calendars as well. The calendars can be restrictive and dampen creativity. (I had one social media director say he felt he was playing blackout bingo with social media. That’s not where you want to be.) Some flexibility has to be built in as well. As we all know, things can change, even as often as daily, and we have to be able to respond and accommodate for changes and opportunities. Another truism is that the calendar only works if everyone is contributing. Our weekly team meetings have provided a good check and balance for all of us.
On a final note, although everyone on the team is responsible for contributing, it’s good to have a point person and lead on the project. That old adage, “If everyone is in charge no one is in charge” certainly applies here.
Founded in 1980, our Top 25 North American B-to-B agency specializes in companies who sell through a strong dealer/distributor network.