Many marketers recognize how important content marketing is for their overall strategy, but when it comes to keeping a content marketing strategy in place, many are struggling to get content marketing efforts to actually work for them. Often, issues with a content marketing plan are tied to a poorly laid out strategy—or simply no clear strategy at all. If you dove into content marketing without a clear path, consider these reasons why you need a content calendar and how to develop one that works for you.

Why You Need a Content Calendar

Content marketing is bigger than it’s ever been. In 2014, 70 percent of B2B content marketers were creating more content than they did the previous year. Chances are, you’re one of them. That means there’s a lot of competition.

According to Content Marketing Institute research, the second most common challenge content marketers face is producing content consistently—50 percent cite this as a problem! That comes only after the challenge of producing engaging content, which 54 percent say is a major hurdle.

So if you want to get ahead of the competition, a content calendar will easily put you there since it gives you a clear path toward producing consistent content. Even more importantly, it helps keep you organized, which can promote more engaging ideas.

Boom! That’s two challenges you just overcame.

But how does a content calendar help with ideas? Let’s say your marketing team plans specific content around the holidays. That’s going to give you an edge because people will find this content relevant. Since you’ve planned it well in advance, you’ll have the time to develop the time-sensitive content that many other marketers are rushing to produce.

You’ll find a content strategy and calendar useful in many other areas as well, including:

  • It holds your team accountable, therefore boosting productivity.
  • It puts you in control of what your team can handle.
  • It provides a structure that makes coming up with ideas tailored for your target audience easier.
  • It helps instill trust in your brand from customers who rely on your content and its schedule.

How to Develop a Content Marketing Strategy

Now that you know why your content calendar is important, it’s time to develop it. But before you dive in too far, you have to outline your overall strategy. This doesn’t take a ton of work, just a bit of thought. In a document, outline things like:

  • Your Goals: What do you want to get out of your content marketing?
  • Your Target Audience: Draw a picture of what your target customer looks like. This is known as a “buyer persona.” Consider elements like your target audience’s demographic as well as their content and service needs.
  • Types of Content: What media will you use to distribute content? Examples include blog posts, slideshows, videos, infographics, and eBooks.
  • Content Management: How will you manage your content? What programs will you use, who will be in charge of content creation, and how will you analyze its impact?

Now that you have all that laid out, you can develop your content calendar. Start by deciding how often you’ll publish content. For example, if you’re running a blog, you might publish a post every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. But your content calendar needs to be much more involved than that!

For each piece of content you plan, these points should be outlined on the calendar:

  • Publication date
  • Content type and topic
  • Writer and editor assigned
  • Draft deadline
  • Art/media to be used
  • Resources for your writer to use during research

Free tools like Google Docs, Trello, or the WordPress Editorial Calendar plugin will get you started in the right direction. Just make sure everyone on your team has access to the calendar.

Not only does a well laid out content strategy push you above the competition, but it will help keep your business organized and your team productive. Try it out and see how it goes, but don’t forget that you can adjust your calendar as needed if you find the workload is too much or not enough for your team.

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