If the first rule of B2B content marketing is “Think like a publisher,” then it only makes sense that marketers would adopt some publishing tactics to get the job done.
Naturally, this includes the use of an editorial calendar.
What most content marketers find out pretty quickly, however, is that this is easier said than done. The biggest challenge involved with content calendars is that they constantly change.
I know what you’re thinking. “But…” – no, just save it. They change. Like, all the time. No matter how much time you spend planning them, they will still change. People will miss deadlines, projects will get re-prioritized, last-minute requests will come through the pipeline – lots of things will happen. So just be prepared; your calendar will change.
And you know what? It’s OK! Your calendar is a living thing, and it will change and evolve along with your content strategy. That’s why I think it’s best to think of it more like a roadmap; it gives you a plan for where you want to go.
So the question is, how do you get started? Here are a few tips for creating and organizing your B2B content calendar to help put you on the right path from the get-go.
Keep it simple
While I’ve seen content calendars managed using Microsoft SharePoint and other project management platforms, the truth is that you don’t need fancy technology to create something that works. (And in case you’re wondering – no, Outlook is not a good option.)
In most cases, a simple calendar template built in an Excel or Word document will suffice (you can download some free ones here). If you want your calendar to be accessible to others, you can also host it in your company intranet or in the cloud via something like Google Docs. I’d still recommend managing it locally, however, and only updating the online version on a weekly basis at most (remember, your calendar will change often, so you want it to be as easy to update as possible).
Label your assets
As a content strategy expands, things tend to get… messy. Blog posts, eBooks, videos, infographics – it can all get pretty complicated to keep track of, and even more difficult to keep on a schedule.
To simplify things, make sure to label your content assets in your calendar by type, not just title. This will make it easy to browse what’s in the pipeline and avoid asking questions like, “Hey is this thing due on the 28th a blog post or a whitepaper?”
Know who’s doing what
Whether you’re working with freelancers or internal team members, it’s just as important to track WHO is creating your content as it is WHAT they are creating. This way you’ll be able to easily see who’s responsible for all of your assets straight from your calendar.
This is particularly helpful for large projects that have multiple contributors, such as an eBook that needs to be written, edited, approved, designed, laid out and so on. In these cases, it’s a good idea to stagger the due dates for the project into multiple stages in your calendar.
For example, the first draft for a project might need to be written by the 7th, edited by the 14th and laid out by the 28th. This will allow you to organize every step from within your calendar, and quickly see who is responsible for completing each stage of the creation process.
Mind your topics and goals
Finally, your calendar is a great way to visualize whether or not you’re hitting all the right points with your content strategy. For example, most B2Bs have at least a handful of primary topics they cover in relation to their business. Your content calendar can help keep you balanced in this regard, making it easy to see if you’re focusing too much on one area and neglecting others that are of interest to your target audience.
Your content calendar can even help avoid these issues ahead of time from an organizational standpoint. For instance, you could create a schedule where you post something on Topic X each Wednesday, Topic Y every other Friday, and so on. You could even set aside whole weeks in your calendar to devote to one specific area (hey, it works with sharks, right?). This will help to ensure your content strategy remains well rounded.
In my career, I’ve worked as both a publisher and a marketer, and have managed plenty of different content calendars over the years. These are just a few best practices that I’ve found to work for me – but what about you? Share your best content calendar tips in the comments below!
More: Watch this video tutorial on creating an editorial calendar and download our free template while you’re at it.
About the Author
Brendan Cournoyer is the Director of Content Marketing at Brainshark, a sales enablement platform provider that helps companies more effectively prepare employees, engage with key audiences, and advance business opportunities. For more musings on the world of content marketing, SEO, and more, follow Brendan on Twitter @brencournoyer.