As we enter in to the end of year wind-down, many marketers are already setting their mind of 2019’s content calendar. A few hours spent creating a skeleton plan for next year’s efforts can save a tremendous amount of time, which can then be spent actually creating content.
There’s plenty of information out there on how to do this. There are even numerous excellent templates to get you started. However, the thing to stress is that this is only how you should get started. In reality, a spreadsheet with the major holidays marked on it probably won’t be that much use.
So what else should you include? The bad news is that I can’t give you a granular, one size fits all calendar for your specific business. The good news is I can point you in a couple of good directions to ensure your content strategy stands out from the crowd in 2019.
Even better, most of these sources of inspiration are hiding right under your nose.
The other people in your office can be a goldmine for content inspiration. This goes equally for B2B and B2C companies, but the approach varies slightly.
For example, most B2C businesses have some kind of customer service department. Whether this is a full on call centre, or one person who responds to emails, colleagues in customer facing roles are a great resource for filling gaps in your content calendar. You simply have to ask what kinds of queries people have at different times of year.
For the purpose of B2B content marketing, the process is just as easy, but will require a little more cooperation. As marketers, we tend to be mainly focused on the prospect of future work for our company. However, ongoing and previous projects are valuable content resources.
Speak to one of your project manage colleagues and find out which projects will finish at different points in the year. These can then be used to create case studies. Or better yet, offer to ghost write a piece from your colleague’s perspective on their experience of the project.
The focus of every good content calendar should be anticipating our customers’ needs. Most ways of doing this involve some element of guesswork though. There is only one exception. That is asking your customers directly.
This will sound obvious to some of you. To other, it seems that this is a strange prospect. Assuming your business has a reasonably healthy social following, this takes no effort and will probably land you with dozens of entries for your content calendar.
The more direct and informal the better. A tweet along the lines of ‘what are you looking forward to in 2019?’ or ‘what are your New Year’s resolutions?’ will do wonders. While you’ll get plenty of generic ideas, you’ll more than likely get some great timely and seasonal answers too.
Industry events are a fantastic way to flesh out your content calendar months in advance. These can be global conference, or humble local meet ups. In either case, they’re planned well ahead of time, which makes them a reliable source of content marketing inspiration.
Events organisers typically want to create a lot of social buzz. They usually have big audiences too. This makes content based around their events highly shareable, especially if you’re able to write insightful and positive copy.
The content itself should be easy to create too. Any event organiser worth their salt will create easily consumer press material for just this reason. You can also get multiple posts out of a single event with relatively little effort. Examples might include ‘5 thing we’re looking forward to at…’ or ‘What we learned from…’.
While it’s difficult to make this type of content in advance, it’s easy to anticipate when it will be most effective.
This one is a little trickier, as what is relevant to your industry will vary greatly. You’ll also want to tread lightly, as getting overtly political can damage your brand greatly. For that reason, in most cases it’s better to focus on issues which aren’t contentious. You’ll also want to make sure you know what you’re talking about.
Global cultural and sporting events are a fairly safe bet. It takes a bit of creative flare to make them relevant though. For example, if it’s an Olympic year, you may want to leverage that in the summer. If you want to think closer to home, maybe a local team are expected to qualify for a regional or national tournament.
Or maybe there’s a new piece of legislation due to be introduced which will affect your business or your clients. If you can articulate why this is important, you’ll have some high-converting content on your hands. Just look at the prevalence of GDPR related blogs over the last couple of years.
Some content marketers have an aversion to reusing content, but they’re missing out. I’m not advocating repackaging your existing blog posts and trying to pass them off as new. Rather, you should revisit your old content with a critical eye.
Try to think what has changed in the intervening months or years. There’s nothing wrong with revisiting the same topics if you have new insights. If you look back at some historical data, you might even find that you’re trending for topics you didn’t know about. This will give you new areas to focus on.
This type of content is perfect for ‘silly season’. That is, the times of year where you’re struggling to think of seasonal events to relate your content to. Thinking about this while you make plan your content calendar for the New Year is vital, as this when you’re most likely to encounter writer’s block.
Many marketers sit down to create their content calendar with the best of intentions. The trouble is, many of them only highlight events like Christmas and Halloween, which they probably won’t ever need to be reminded of anyway.
This is a tempting shortcut, as it makes us feel like we’re on top of our content planning, but it causes problems down the line. In fact, this will do little to help you know exactly what content to create throughout the year.
What I’ve sought to do today is highlight some key areas of inspiration, which will help you to create effective content the whole year through. Even outside of the major holidays. While this list is hardly comprehensive, it should be easily enough to fill your calendar with valuable topics.