Content marketing is a big part of B2B marketing strategy as a whole. And a content calendar is an essential tool in an effective content strategy.
There are huge advantages when you take the time to build out a content calendar:
- It’s documented
- You can expand your knowledge of your audience
- You can avoid stressful last-minute planning or rushed creation (the worst)
- You can plan highly valuable content (the key to success)
- You’re organized and, ultimately, will save time
- You will create content consistency
- You can unearth patterns to improve future content performance
Overall, this contributes to better creation and execution of your marketing strategy.
Whether you’re looking to start your first content calendar or refine your process, here’s a step-by-step approach you and your team can use to build a content calendar.
Step One: Audience Planning
Who is your target audience? Knowing who your audience is will help you determine the right types of content to include in your planning.
Drill down into the details by developing personas for your various audience types. Answer questions, which include:
- What is their job and major responsibilities?
- What topics are they most interested in?
- What are their challenges and pain points?
- What are their goals?
- What are common objections that stop them from moving forward with purchasing?
- How do they prefer to consume information?
- Where do they find out about your business?
- When are they likely to interact with your business?
You can begin to answer these questions through research and experience. One of the best ways is through interviews or client surveys.
Taking the time to build your company’s personas will help you identify content to address specific challenges, overcome purchasing objections and move the individual closer to conversion.
Step Two: Determine Your Content Types
Various types of content can be used to connect with prospects and customers at different stages in the customer’s buying journey.
There are three primary stages:
- Top of the funnel (Awareness) – Individuals are looking for answers, insight and resources. The focus should be on the pain-point, providing upfront value with little obligation, and sharing your expertise.
Ideal content types include blog posts, eBooks, infographics, educational webinars and videos.
- Middle of the funnel (Evaluation/Consideration) – Individuals have identified a problem and are actively seeking a solution. They’re not ready to purchase but need to determine how best to solve their challenges.
Ideal content types include eBooks, case studies, data sheets, long-form guides, comparison guides, solution-based webinars and video demos.
- Bottom of the funnel (Purchase/Decision) – Individuals are ready to make a purchase. They want to overcome their objections and move forward.
Ideal content types include reports, case studies, free trials, consultations, assessments and live demos.
You’ll need to plan the content in your calendar to support the buyer’s journey across all stages.
Step Three: Identify Your Thought Leaders
How can you differentiate your content in today’s market? Thought-leadership.
Thought-leadership marketing can be used to enable an organization (or individual) to create influence, build a platform, provide sought-after value and, ultimately, make it easier to attract customers.
As part of your content planning, identify who your thought leaders are for each piece of content. These individuals have a unique knowledge or expertise that make them an authority on a subject.
You’ll need to schedule interviews with your thought leaders to explore their expertise so you can begin to articulate it through content.
Step Four: Get it on Paper
There is no single “right way” to put your content into a calendar. From calendars and spreadsheets to robust content management apps, there are many approaches you can take to “get it on paper”. Find an approach that works best for your organization and budget. Make sure all stakeholders have access and have bought into the strategy.
Regardless of your approach, there are a few elements we recommend including:
- Content type – is it a blog post, case study, infographic, etc.?
- Topic/headline – what is the working title or topic?
- Content details – what is the goal of the piece?
- Thought leader/subject matter expert – who will provide the unique expertise?
- Target audience – who is the content written for?
- Stage in the funnel – what stage are they in?
- Keywords – what are the focus keywords for the piece for SEO?
- Call-to-action – what do you want the reader to do afterwards?
- Author – who will the piece be attributed to?
- Writer – who is writing the piece?
- Owner – who owns the content from initial concept to publishing?
- Publish date and time – when will it be published?
- Distribution channels – where will it be published?
- Promotion channels – where will it be promoted?
Including these elements will help ensure success for all team members.
Step Five: Evaluate and Iterate (Always)
You can plan your content weekly, monthly or quarterly. How often will depend on your organization and industry. What’s most important is that your content calendar is not a “set-it-and-forget-it” document.
Content should change and adapt based on your organization’s needs, your goals and the performance of your content. Take a test-and-learn approach. Evaluate what’s working and what’s not, and iterate accordingly.
For example, maybe certain types of blog posts perform better with an audience at the top of the funnel. Adjust to add more of those. Or, maybe your last two webinars had poor attendance and engagement. Pivot and try a new approach, and then evaluate the difference.
Ultimately, if content marketing is a big part of your company’s marketing strategy, by following these five steps your content calendar can up your game for present and future content creation.
If you are looking for support with your content creation efforts, contact us at email@example.com