It’s not unusual for content marketers to lapse into ‘content slumps’, running out of ideas, or missing a deadline or two, and taking lengthy spells before they’re back in action. On their return, they attempt to gather the broken pieces, a little too late. A competitive quantum of traction lost, marketing & sales opportunities left tethering on the edge of oblivion.
Oh, and let’s not forget the creatives that’re always late to the party. Never on time to deliver their New Year’s Day content or one for Independence Day. Not because they flunked the deadline. But because it was never in the plan to start with. : (
Quick stat: According to research carried out by the Content Marketing Institute, only 30 percent of marketers have an effective content marketing program. This finding piggybacks on another finding that ONLY 32% of marketers have a well-documented content strategy. (per the same report) The research also further revealed that content marketers with a plan (in this case, a content marketing calendar) are more likely to find success than those without one.
A content calendar is a hub (usually, a digital document) that houses all your content marketing efforts. It helps you effectively ensure smooth running of content tasks, gain clarity and precision of the time that goes into the planning, developing, and publishing of your content. In fact, it remains an absolute must for clear-cut communication of your scheduled dates.
This post reveals why EXACTLY you need a content calendar beyond the much-peddled cliche of “those who fail to plan, plan to fail.” Here’re 10 of the plentiful reasons:
Keep Your Audience Coming.
So much has been made about good content creation. Some say “Good content is not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
Either way, you can expect badly executed content to be lacking both in terms of what should have been added or taken out. Quality content deliberately planned and created will not only earn you brand awareness but also sustain trust and loyalty.
Quality content enabled through a well-structured content calendar should double as both your acquisition and retention strategy. Even more so as it saves you the embarrassment and duplicated effort of repeating content topics while sticking to your content theme.
Team Work Makes the Dream Work.
Content collaboration across large teams can be complicated. It gets difficult especially when one team member is unaware of what comes next or there is a lag in communication. All that gets taken care of because of the team alignment that content calendars facilitate.
With a content calendar, writers, graphics designers, editors, and all personnel involved in content creation will have a free and efficient workflow. Further, the continued absence of any team member will not put a clog in the wheels of content marketing operations because there’s a blueprint—a model for subsequent team members to follow.
Showing Up, Consistently.
Content creation usually has its set goals per time—either to gain more audience, to sustain audience’s interest, to build relevance, And for whatever goal it is, experts’ advice is to create and SHOW UP consistently. You have to be constantly in their faces! (this goes without saying, not in an intrusive way.) If you are going to be a content creator, you should go the ‘expert’ way for expert results!
With content creation, there are no shortcuts, your best bet is a content calendar to reach zenith just in time. Consistency is critical to content marketing as it fosters honesty within your team in light of your publishing schedule.
Deadlines can portend an ‘elephant-in-the-room’ type scenario for team members. So, we’ll be the first to admit, no one is above missing a deadline. It gives you a bird-eye POV (point of view) on things should a team member ever miss out on scheduled activity. Typically, your content calendar should include:
- Date for publication
- Theme, Title, Headline of the content
- Deadline for completion.
Using this cadence, you’re sure of action and not mere promises. Each piece of finely executed content brings you closer to your marketing objective. Content calendars help you track your goal, automatically reducing the risk of redundancy by more than 70%. How cool is that?
Innovation Hub/Scale Creative Blocs
It’s easy to see content creators from afar off and make a myth begging to be left the heck alone out of their genius. Yes. They’re intuitive. Yes. They’re incredibly gifted (and silky smooth with it too!) but every so often, the spontaneous bursts of creativity is a product of sessions of strategic planning and practice. Here’s how:
— Coordinated content aids critical thinking. The mind has a way of telling us what’s left undone or what could be done better. While a disorganized room will keep crying out for help and clean up, a neatly arranged space will only crave to become more aesthetically pleasing. There you have it, an intentionally curated content calendar, as opposed to randomly cherry-picked tasks, keeps your creative juice flowing.
Did we mention that a content calendar is also known as an editorial calendar? For optimum use, content calendars MUST be editable. This way, team members can share ideas, call the attention of other team members to how one idea falls short, or just fix it by chiming in with their own contribution.
P.S. In your content calendar, you could even create a repository where your team members could take down idea dumps and other helpful stuff that can be fleshed into meaningful projects eventually.
To stay relevant, a content calendar is the GPS you need; seeing where you are coming from and how far to go gives a sense of direction and purpose. Your ability to stay relevant to their growth needs is invariably a reason for them to stay spellbound with you.
Track Content Performance.
A study by Moz showed that to gain the highest traffic and conversion rates on social media, publishing 2-4 times per week gave the best results and a dip in consistency with result in a corresponding dip in traffic.
To effectively track your performance, you need a content calendar to know which type of content is faring well and how you can leverage this insight for your future content pieces for even better outcomes.
Recall Key Dates.
Content calendars save your brand the awkwardness of failing to commemorate special dates with tailor-made content that is in sync with their world. They work pretty much like regular calendars (but more efficiently) when used in this context.
Whether key events, public holidays, product/feature launches, or even your business’ anniversary, content calendars are a great way to document these dates so your brand is not left out of the discussion. (Brand recall!)
Realize your Brand Vision.
Through a continuous flow of a wide array of content assets, you can reinforce your brand vision for your audience as a small business owner. These pieces of content would usually have a common recurring theme or build-up to reaffirm core values and the vision throughout the entire value chain—from creation, to optimization, and then marketing.
Your Content Calendar is your Marketing Strategy’s Source of Truth…
How steep can the cost implication of a lack of planning go? You shouldn’t have to find out. Not when you can have your content marketing running efficiently with a content calendar.
You could create yours starting with Google sheets, in Slack, and other apps. To get started, there are many templates online you could use as guides. For bespoke content calendar options that’re a good fit for your content marketing operations, feel free to ding us here. We’re absolutely rooting for your content team to clock its full creative capacity. Reach out to us at Sprout Connectors. We’d love to assist you with this and more! There’s also a plethora of other tips on business and social media hacks right here.