By Kim Gusta
Last month in Part 1 of this series about Taming the Content Beast, I provided tips to help you better understand your buyers and the depth of your existing content arsenal. These initial steps will strengthen your ability to deliver high-value content and drive strong buying decisions.
This month, I shift my focus to the topic of thoughtful planning with Steps 3 and 4. By building an editorial calendar and maximizing the scalability of new or existing content, you will save time and optimize buyer impact with steady precision.
Creating an editorial calendar is an important project management task that prevents last-minute scrambling. Essentially, it’s a method for matching up planned content with delivery dates, authors, contingencies and more. You plan out upcoming campaigns, events and launches on the calendar and then fill in appropriate content for each.
The editorial calendar also ensures there are no content gaps, which can happen with an ad hoc approach. No more realizing in mid-April, “Oh no, we have nothing for the huge May trade show!” An editorial calendar forces you to think ahead and assign names to tasks. It’s also a must-have tool for managing big events, such as product launches. Your editorial calendar doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Like the inventory tracker, it can be a simple spreadsheet. Make a note of any upcoming events requiring content. List what content you’ll create, when you’ll create it and who’s responsible for it.
I recommend using your editorial calendar to plan at least three months in advance. Six to 12 months out is even better. Yes, there will be changes as new information needs are uncovered, unscheduled events arise or new topics emerge. But that’s okay. By laying out everything on your calendar, you’ll see how changes or additions impact other items, so you can make better planning decisions.
Here's a simple template you can use to create an editorial calendar: Download Editorial Calendar Template (in Microsoft Word format)
Many marketers make the mistake of starting from scratch every time they need to create a blog post, webinar, white paper or video. Don’t make things more difficult than they need to be. In addition to saving time and effort by repurposing the content you already have, you should consider multiple ways to use a piece of content before you create it.
Improved time and work efficiencies aren’t the only benefits of repurposing content. It also helps ensure consistency of messaging. Rather than pulling content from the air, your existing content keeps your messaging on track.
Deploying similar information in a variety of formats also helps you cater to the different learning styles and preferences of your buyers. Some people want to get their information from a white paper; others might prefer to watch a video. By repurposing content, you can address a wider audience with less work on your part.
Content expert Ardath Albee created the Rule of 5: Always think of at least five different ways to re-create a piece of content. Do this before you create the new piece. This will give you economies of scale and ensure that the new piece of content is truly reusable in multiple ways.
For example, let’s say you plan to hold a webinar next month on system compliance. Let’s apply the Rule of 5 here and create a short list of other types of content you could create from the webinar:
1. Create a blog series highlighting the five main topics discussed in the webinar. (Transcribe the webinar content so it’s quick to write.)
2. Package the blog posts into an eBook or white paper and offer it to webinar attendees.
3. Re-create an image from a webinar slide as a stand-alone infographic and post it on social media.
4. Break the recorded webinar into short “teaser” video segments to post on YouTube or your website. Link each video segment to the archived full-length webinar.
5. Summarize how-to steps covered in the topic in a “getting started” or reference guide.
If you’re finding it challenging to figure out five ways to repurpose a certain piece of content, consider it a red flag. The content might be too limited in scope or slightly off topic. You’re probably better off putting your efforts into a different piece.
Steps 3 and 4 will increase your efficiencies and the overall impact of your content as a result of a well-planned and documented content delivery strategy. Next month I will conclude with Step 5 when I blog about building an idea engine to keep your content fresh and market-focused.
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