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Are you ready for 2017? How to create a content marketing calendar

Business promotion used to be simple. You had a product. You put it in front of your potential customers and told them it was great. They bought it and hopefully came back for more. Today, this kind of ‘who shouts loudest wins’ approach to marketing is not how it works. Firstly, there’s a lot of shouting going on. Secondly, people don’t like to be shouted at.

It’s common sense really. Traditional, in your face advertising is not as effective as it once was. This is where content marketing is filling in a gap. By inspiring people, amusing them and solving their problems, brands are building lasting and profitable relationships with their customers. However creating blog posts, social media updates and newsletters on a whim is not the answer.

You need to ask yourself: what type of content is going to resonate with your audience; where is the best place to reach them; and when is the optimum time to share? Having a content calendar will help you plan and deliver quality communications that will achieve real marketing results.

Can your brand afford not to have one? Here’s our step-by-step guide to creating a content calendar to amplify your PR and marketing in 2017.

Fill your content calendar tool box

There are lots of free tools available to help you create and populate your content calendar. Here are some of our favourites:

  • Trello – this is an online project management tool that allows you to build lists of ideas for your website, social media and other communications channels. You can add due dates, attachments and labels to highlight different key messages or campaigns. There’s also the option to add other people to see your lists, so it can be shared by the whole team involved in your PR and marketing.
  • BuzzSumo – if you want to find out what other content is popular online then just tap your subject or keywords into this free-to-use tool and all of the current trending articles will pop up. This is handy for inspiration and making sure you create content that’s new and unique.
  • Google Alerts – this is a super simple way to have all the latest news about your industry, competitors or interests delivered straight to your inbox as often as you like. It can also help you ‘harvest’ useful content from elsewhere on the web to add to your content plan.
  • Awareness Days – it’s surprising how many awareness days happen throughout the year. There’s often several each day. It’s highly likely you’ll find a few that are relevant to your brand by using this website. These are great opportunities to develop themed content.

Create varied content

Every business has multiple audiences: customers, investors and partners, to name a few. Each of these groups will be more receptive to receiving your information in different ways. Your content plan should reflect this. Here’s some examples of the variety of content you should plan to create: blogs; case studies; videos; infographics; white papers; e-books; press releases; quizzes; expert Q&As; and product demonstrations.

Balance your content

A great content calendar helps you balance the various ways of telling your story. You should plan to create and share different content at different times to keep your audience’s interest. Apart from looking more organised, this works particularly well on some social media platforms like Facebook, which shares your posts with more followers if it sees a variety of posts on your page.

Plan content to support business activities

Plan marketing content around company events, product launches and corporate anniversaries coming up in 2017. Doing this in advance will mean you don’t miss ready-made opportunities to tell your story in an engaging way. Also look to what’s happening outside your business such as major sports competitions, Government budget announcements and seasonal events. All of these things may impact you and your customers, so share your opinion, tips or support for them.

Measuring the success of your content

By planning your marketing content in advance you can also set yourself targets for results.You may be looking to develop your following and reach on social media, attract more traffic to your website or encourage enquiries about a particular product. All of these things can be traced using Google Analytics, the insight tools on your social media accounts and your own customer relationship management system.

Could your content be more focused? Do you want to see real marketing results in 2017? Let Amplify PR help you create a content calendar that will support your business goals – get in touch.

Image courtesy of pixabay

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Lisa Preston

Lisa Preston has more than 15 years experience in PR, marketing and journalism. She is Director of Amplify PR - a communications and marketing consultancy based in Winchester, Hampshire.

Posted in Editor's Picks, Marketing, Public Relations

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