Without a marketing plan you are basically throwing everything you have at a wall and hoping something sticks.

So far we’ve in this series on content marketing, we’ve discussed…

  1. What kind of content you will create
  2. The audience for your contentwho?
  3. Your content marketing distribution channelswhere?

Now, we need to tie all this into a plan of action – your editorial calendar. The when and the how.

First, let’s define exactly what an editorial calendar is…

An editorial calendar is used by bloggers, publishers, businesses, and groups to control publication of content across different media, for example, newspaper, magazine, blog, email newsletters, and social media outlets. They are an extremely efficient way to control publication of content across diverse media outlets over time. – Wikipedia

Instead of posting content haphazardly, you will have a plan for writing, sharing and tracking this content. This will also help tremendously with the issue of what to write, or what to post.

An editorial calendar can be a list, a spreadsheet, a chart, whatever you are most comfortable with. It could be a calendar in the Cloud that is used exclusively for this purpose. The important thing is that it is easy to follow and gets used.

Editorial Calendar Headings

For the purposes of this post, I will focus on an editorial calendar as a spreadsheet. The headers for your spreadsheet could include the following, depending on how much planning you want to do…

  • Date – could be the month or week this falls within in the plan.
  • Title/Description – the working title of the piece with a brief description.
  • Status – could be something like “not started” or “in progress”
  • Due Date – be firm with this but also be realistic. Set due dates you can and will meet and hold your team or yourself to that.
  • Publish Date – this is different from the due date; you might need some time to add it or work on posts that go with it. So, know when you plan to publish the piece as well.
  • Type of Content – seems obvious, but once you see it mapped out in a chart you can quickly see where you can add in something different.
  • Producer – the person responsible for creating the content.
  • Editor – the person responsible for reviewing the content (prior to the due date if possible)
  • Target Audience – these are your buyer personas, which persona or personas is this piece targeting. If you are targeting vertical markets you would place them here as well.
  • Distribution Channels – i.e. blog, YouTube Channel, Tumblr.
  • Promotion Channels – what channels will you use to promote this piece? Social? Directories? Email newsletter? Print media?
  • Tags – this helps when dealing with SEO. This is where you track what keywords you will be targeting with this piece. More on SEO.
  • Metrics – what does success look like? Links? Downloads? Likes? Conversions?
  • Notes – keep track of what worked and what didn’t so you can improve upon your efforts in subsequent pieces.

Click on image to see sample editorial calendar

Click the sample above and you can see how this might look in a spreadsheet. The format isn’t as important as is what you are tracking and whether or not it gets used.

Use the tool that you are comfortable with and what will get the best results for you. As you use the calendar, pay attention to what works, what doesn’t, and make adjustments.

The point is: You are measuring your successes and failures and making corrections where needed. You can’t do this if you don’t track your efforts; you can only guess.

Exercise: Develop an Editorial Calendar

Develop a sample 3 month editorial calendar for the same company you used in the exercise in Part Two: Buyer Personas

  1. Use the same company you used when developing the personas
  2. Use as many of the headings listed above as you can
  3. Any format is acceptable, as long as it makes sense to you

What do you think? Would this work? Where will you run into problems and how can you plan for that?

Now that you have the ingredients for a great content marketing plan. Put your plan in action! And please share your results with me here or on our social pages or via email.

And finally, I leave you with a quote. I asked Ann Handley, Content Marketing Master and author of Content Rules, what the most important takeaway from her book was…

“Be relentlessly customer-focused and not corporate-focused. Ask yourself, as a business owner…‘What marketing will my customer THANK me for?’” – Ann Handley