As a very small business, keeping control of your content distribution is pretty straightforward. Most likely, only one or two people (probably you, if you’re a sole proprietor) interact with whomever you can get to listen in whatever scattershot manner you can find time for while getting your business off the ground. This can mean sending out offers and emails randomly, publishing blogs sporadically, and creating online content when (or if) you can find the time.
But once your business finds its footing and you start to develop a market, you should upgrade from the shotgun approach to marketing. One way to organize your marketing content is to use a shared content calendar.
What is a content calendar?
A content calendar is a tool that integrates what you want to publish with when you want to publish it. It can be as simple as a shared Google calendar or spreadsheet, but a stand-alone online program or the integrated calendars contained in many social media publishing programs provide many valuable functions. These integrated calendars can allow you to schedule your content across a number of platforms for future publication and can track the effectiveness of that content as measured by responses and engagements with it.
What should be on it?
A content calendar allows you to map out a plan for your social media marketing strategy and share that plan with your team.
For example: You are a specialty chocolatier. Your calendar might outline campaigns based around chocolate-giving or chocolate-consuming holidays, both common and obscure. You can plan out marketing pushes for each and note what content will go out by what medium at what time, like preparing reminder emails, blog posts, contests, promotions, event notifications, and more for Valentine’s Day, Sweetest Day, Mother’s Day, etc. in the weeks preceding each.
Your content calendar should have long-term content plans and identify campaigns focused around events, products, or different buyer groups.
- Events/timing: Knowing what campaigns will be upcoming and when can allow you to best budget your marketing dollars and time well in advance. It can also allow you to allocate the best internal resources to each job; if you know that during a certain period there will be a lot of extra social media activity and content to distribute and respond to, you can plan to have extra personnel available to manage it.
- Products: If you sell a number of different products, you can plan out your content, social media, and marketing campaigns around each and track their efficacy. Planning to promote backpacks in the months before summer and fall with blogs about hiking and then back-to-school is a definite improvement from “Hey, we haven’t been selling many backpacks lately, let’s write a blog about how durable they are” in February (when snowshoes may be a better seller).
- Buyer groups: A content calendar can help you track and plan when content will distributed to different buyer groups. For example, you can schedule an email to automatically send to prior purchasers of your tax preparation software a few months prior to tax day and track the effectiveness of that campaign. Separately, you can schedule and monitor distribution of your free eBook targeted to new customers.
How do I get started?
There are a lot of great do-it-yourself content calendar programs and social media platforms available across all price points. Alternatively, you can enlist help from a marketing professional. A customer-focused marketing company can help you evaluate your options and develop a content and media calendar just for your business to help it grow and thrive. Either way, having a plan for your content distribution and promotion will help your business get organized and maximize the effective reach of your content.
Blue Frog Marketing, with offices in Des Moines and Denver, provides digital inbound and print marketing services to large and small businesses across the country. Blue Frog is a HubSpot partner specializing in inbound marketing techniques, including superior, professionally written custom content creation (like eBooks and white papers), social media management, and content marketing strategy development. Contact us to find out how we can take your marketing to the next level!