Can you believe that 2015 is almost done? Seems like it was only a few months ago that I was writing about different ways businesses should be planning ahead for this year. With January 1st only about six weeks away, however, it’s time to get back into planning mode and start scheduling your inbound marketing content for next year. Whether it’s blogs, eBooks, videos, webinars, or even a conference, having everything scheduled and planned out ahead of time is key to keeping up with your company’s goals and editorial calendar—not to mention infinitely less stressful than trying to come up with new ideas every week.
We all know there’s a snowball effect that keeps getting worse and worse whenever you miss a deadline at work, and a pre-planned content calendar will help you stay on schedule, keep your marketing team focused on the top-level priorities, and ultimately help you create the most content for your audience—leading to more conversion opportunities and better SEO rankings. To help your company get the ball rolling for 2016, here are 5 considerations to keep in mind when planning your content for the year ahead:
How often can you publish advanced content?
Whenever you set your content creation goals for the year ahead, it’s important that you use the goal-setting acronym S.M.A.R.T. to set goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. In order to do this, you need to you need to look at your marketing team’s content creation capabilities, and figure out how much content your team can create. You might have plenty of good ideas, but if you can’t produce the material, you’re only setting yourself up to fall short of your goals. Likewise, you also need to consider your audience’s desire and industry expectations for new content. Though Weidert Group might try to publish blogs on a daily basis, other companies in B2B industries are fine publishing 1-4 times a month. Before you figure out what you want to do, make sure you know what you’re capable of accomplishing first.
What are the industry predictions for next year?
If you’re going to be planning out your content ideas for the year ahead, a great way to think of topics is by reading about some of the predictions and forecasts in your industry for next year. For example, let’s say a report is released showing evidence that companies are committing less of their marketing budgets towards TV advertisements now, and spending more on social media ad campaigns. With that in mind, inbound marketing agencies would be wise to create some advanced content pieces and blogs that answer their audience’s questions about social media advertising, as well as position themselves as experts. As the trend picks up steam, you’ll have lots of helpful resources lined up and ready for prospects.
What does your company want to accomplish in 2016?
Though some people consider this the first and most important question to ask yourself when planning your content schedule, it’s important that you take industry predictions and your own content creation capabilities into consideration before determining what you want to accomplish next year. Using the example from the question above, for instance, one of your goals for 2016 might be to increase client social media ad spending by 25%, because that’s where you see your industry headed. If more people are going to be looking for help with social media, it only makes sense that you would highlight your business’ capabilities that can help. There’s nothing wrong with getting a slice of the pie while it’s hot, after all!
That being said, your company goals don’t always have to align with industry predictions; sometimes, only you know what’s best for your company. For example, maybe your agency specializes in TV advertising, and you know TV advertising is hardly dead just yet. Rather than focus more attention on social media, you decide you want to position your agency as the premier, go-to TV advertising agency in your region, and make it your goal to increase the number of new clients you acquire by 10%. To do this, you could create an advanced content and email campaign showing prospects that TV advertising is still alive and well, and show off your skills in the process.
What type of content will your audience react most positively to?
Plain and simple: some topics are just better suited for certain content formats. If your target audience is engineers and plant managers, for example, they’ll likely respond best to content that’s filled with statistics, comparisons, visual diagrams, and real-life examples. As the analytical type, most of these prospects prefer content in written form, so they can pour over the information at their own pace without having to re-watch anything (e.g., case studies, eBooks, whitepapers, etc.). If you’re looking to show off the capabilities of your specialized machine, however, a video showing it in action is just the type of hard evidence they want to see. Likewise, if your company provides a service in an industry with a lot of nuances, quick explainer videos can help describe a complex process or situation in a more simplified way using visuals as an aid. If you’re not sure what will work best, look to see what other competitors in your industry have the most success with.
Is there a certain time of year that you want to promote specific topics?
Once you have your content ideas and formats figured out, now you need to get them on the schedule so you can start finalizing the deadlines on your projects. That said, some times of year are more appropriate for certain content pieces than others. For example, January is often associated with a fresh start. It’s the first month of the New Year, and businesses are looking to charge out of the gates and make the necessary adjustments that will help them accomplish their goals. With that in mind, you can create advance content showcasing how your company can help other businesses reach their goals. Similarly, let’s say there’s huge annual conference for your industry every year in June. To help generate buzz for your company before heading to the conference, you could schedule a webinar and blog campaign teasing prospects of what to expect. If your target customers need to become compliant with an industry regulation before a certain date, share some content a few months before giving tips for becoming compliant, and let them now how your company can help.
Though it might seem a little overwhelming to plan everything out in advance, you’ll certainly appreciate how much easier everything is when it’s all figured out – you just follow along. A few days of planning now is far less stressful than having to figure something out on a week-to-week or month-to-month basis, and it helps you stay focused on the tasks ahead. Remember to ask yourself the 5 questions above when planning your content calendar for next year, and if you want more help with planning your content schedule, make sure you read our blog, “Marketing Plans: Aim to Expand Your Content Calendars.”