Why do marketing plans fall short? There are a number of reasons, but they all boil down to 2 issues — implementation and accountability. We get it, when it comes to running a small business many issues can arise, time becomes limited and priorities drastically shift daily. When the going gets tough, marketing initiatives have a tendency to slide to the bottom of the priority list — or they get forgotten altogether. Over time, a lack of marketing implementation adds up… So, how do you prevent this from happening?
Without a clear plan and properly-scheduled tactics, it’s easy for things to fall through the cracks. To avoid this situation, you need to plan ahead by creating a marketing content calendar.
In this article, you’re going to learn the main benefits of using a marketing content calendar and how to create one to elevate your small business marketing efforts. But first, let’s simply begin by answering, “What is a content marketing calendar?”
What Is A Content Calendar?
A content calendar is a collaborative working document used to schedule out the content your business will share on social media for the coming months. It can provide detail on what will be shared by the week, day, and sometimes even by the hour. Larger organizations may use multiple content calendars to cover multiple platforms.
A well-maintained content calendar will keep your small business on track to match your marketing goals across the board. It allows you to view all of your campaigns at once and ensure they are working together to tell the same story. This will help you to create a more solidified brand. It can also allow you to analyze data across platforms and better understand your efforts and your audience.
TIP: Get inspired by using the picnic social content calendar for your own social media content ideas. Download here.
Why Have A Content Calendar?
Imagine viewing all of your marketing strategies in one document, like your social media, your email campaigns, print campaigns and radio or television advertising. How do they work together? Are you sharing cohesive content? When you view your calendars side by side, it can help to see what overlaps or what you might have missed otherwise. Maybe a tweet or two about a newsletter you sent out would be a great idea. Or maybe an infographic from your print ad would be a good choice for an Instagram post.
A content calendar isn’t just a tool to help grow your small business; it’s a tool that also makes your life easier. It reduces your need to dig for information at the last minute and repurpose what you already have for multiple channels. Why recreate the wheel, right? Have we convinced you to get a content calendar yet? Well let’s get started with a few tips, and tricks to elevate, collaborate and get your business on track!
5 Things You’ll Need In A Content Calendar
A content calendar isn’t difficult to create. Most people do so with simple tools, such as an Excel spreadsheet. You can put one together fairly quickly with these steps:
1- Brainstorm content and ideas that fit your Brand Persona
Your brand persona is the way your business is portrayed online and in-store, and within the tone you speak with customers and social media. You can discover your business’ brand persona by discussing the questions below with your team:
- Who will be using my products or services?
- What questions will people have before they use my products or services?
- What questions will people have about my industry?
- Which issues might arise for customers during the purchase process?
- Do I want to take a serious or a fun approach?
- What are our company values and what do we want to convey to the public?
Whatever your answers are, they will help you define the type of content to share. Ideas include:
- Theme based posts like #TuesdayTips or #SafetySunday
- Trending sounds or dances for Reels, and TikTok’s
- Case studies
- Testimonials and success stories
- Infographics or statistics within the industry
- Design or buying guides
2- Plan 3-6 Months In Advance
In order to feel at ease, and not to be rushed, it’s always best to schedule your social media strategy as far in advance as possible. We find splitting up the year into 4 quarters is the best recipe for content strategy. This extra time will give you a chance to change and add things over time. Holidays will also become so much easier to manage when you plan in advance.
3- Test and Grow
As much as we love our content calendars, they aren’t meant to be a static marketing plan. Instead, they are meant to grow and change over time. Don’t rely on your content calendar completely; keep an eye on current trends and the news, to mix and add things into your schedule. If a large current event impacts your industry, then by all means, add that to your content. It’s always best to stay relevant.
You should also keep note of what’s working and what isn’t. Keep in mind that things will likely change over time. What worked last year might fail today based on online trends and current events.
4- Organized Messaging
Another tip on what to include when creating the perfect content calendar is all about the management and visibility of your small business’s message. You’ll need to get extremely specific. By documenting what messages, and content you want to be sharing, along with when and how you want to deliver it, you’ll allow your entire team to stay on track and be productive.
For example, your content calendar may include:
- Monthly themes, and topics you’ll want to post about
- Goals and Analytics at a glance
- Titles of blogs, guides, webinars
- Events, and holidays throughout the year
- Details of paid advertising campaigns
- Subject lines of upcoming email marketing campaigns
When it’s time to plan for a new year, make sure you don’t delete your old activities. As you build out the next content marketing calendar, it will be very helpful to refer back to past campaigns and timing. Looking back at past marketing activities may help you choose the best times to push future campaigns.
5- Colour Coding for Easy Reference
Our last tip is what will turn your calendar from bland to grand! We recommend that you should colour code everything to maximize efficiency. Colour-coding your material will help you instantly know what kind of content you have to create and share on any given day. Colour coding can be used to identify and establish priorities and maintain a commitment to them. Before you start randomly assigning colours, you’ll need to realize different colours represent different things in our brains.
Here’s a simple rundown of what different colours can represent:
- Yellow – Warmth, clarity, and optimism
- Orange – Friendly, cheerful, and confident
- Red – Excitement, bold, and youthful
- Purple – Creative, wise, and imaginative
- Blue – Trustworthy, dependable, and strong
- Green – Peaceful, growth, and health
- Grey – Balance, neutrality, and calm
Since we now know what the main colours represent in our brains, here’s how you can colour-code your calendar for maximum productivity:
- Use red for detail-oriented tasks
- Blue or Pink can be used for less-taxing tasks
- Green can be used for breaks and health-related subjects
- Set your creative tasks in purple
- Grey and should be used for meetings
- White should be used for prep-time
Consistency Is The Key To Success
Implementing a well-organized, and colour-coded content calendar, filled with your quarterly campaigns, goals and other details of your marketing plan will provide accountability to your business. You’ll find that you can focus on your day-to-day operations more, and not have to worry about the small things falling through the cracks. Your content calendar will allow you to develop a unified voice across platforms, solidifying your brand in the eyes of viewers. The further out you go, the more you can see it flourish.
Download Our FREE 2022 Social Media Holiday Calendar
Create your content calendar today to keep your small business’ social media marketing campaigns on track for every day of the year. Start by using our free content calendar template as an outline for inspiration and to determine when you should post to each platform.
We want to help you save time, and keep up with any trends or holidays that might happen during the year, that’s why we’ve added the important holidays and points of interest for small businesses.
Remember, the content calendar is your friend, and implementing one will help you stay accountable. We hope this article helped you understand why creating a content calendar is so important!