Why your marketing plan needs an editorial calendar
When you think about marketing your business, you probably think in terms of numbers – how many prospects you’ll contact, how much revenue each campaign should generate, how many people you have in your referral network.
But smart marketers look beyond the numbers to the content – and the timing – of their marketing communications. They use an editorial calendar.
What is an editorial calendar?
Simply put, an editorial calendar is a plan for writing. Magazines and trade journals use an editorial calendar to plot out (usually a year in advance) what types of stories they’ll pursue for each issue. Each industry is different – Vogue’s famous September issue covers fall fashion collections, while a trade journal geared to accountants may begin covering year-end tax issues a little later.
But you don’t have to be in the magazine business to see the value in such planning. Many businesses have such seasonal issues, either those imposed from without (regulatory, holidays, etc.) or from within (sales or specials, owner scheduling, etc.).
Even if your business is relatively free from seasonal considerations, the planning that goes into an editorial calendar can give laser focus to your marketing efforts. For instance, do you have some “dream prospects” you want to get in front of in the coming months? What kinds of content will it take to attract those prospects to your business? Planning to have certain marketing collateral available at key points in the relationship will help you market proactively instead of reactively.
Four types of marketing collateral you need to calendar
As you plan to attract more “dream prospects” to your business, there are several tools you can begin collecting and sharpening now. While there is some overlap between the various types, each presents your business and the solution you sell in a slightly different light:
Case studies, or “customer success stories,” are uniquely persuasive to prospects, particularly if they are just beginning to research possible solutions to their problem. After all, what an existing customer has to say about what working with you is like is far more persuasive than anything you can say about yourself. Stories have unique selling power – plan and use them wisely for maximum effect.
White Papers/Technical Briefs
Depending on your product/service and the market you’re trying to reach, you may need to explain your solution to key contacts at your prospect’s business in charge of putting together the “short list” of vendors for their bosses. Although white papers particularly can feature some customer narrative, both white papers and technical briefs are intended to be more in-depth and detailed.
Press Releases and Advertorials
Good press coverage doesn’t just happen. It’s the result of planning and careful execution. Press releases can pitch your company’s story to reporters looking for content; although you won’t have final say in how (and how extensively) your company is portrayed, intelligent use of a press release will help deadline-driven reporters with their research process. For maximum editorial control, though, you may consider purchasing advertising space and running an advertorial. While these do not have quite the same credibility as traditional press coverage, if advertorials are written in an editorial style, they can ease your message in front of a newspaper or trade journal’s readers in a unique way.
Does your company website have a blog? If not, you’re missing out on one of the most powerful ways to reach potential customers. Think about it: When your prospects are starting to search for solutions to their problems, what’s the first thing they’ll do? Chances are, they’ll hit the internet search engines. Producing a steady stream of well-written, search engine optimized content that speaks to their situation will put you on their radar faster than any brochure.
Short on ideas? Do some brainstorming around some common business issues you run across frequently. Part of the beauty of having your own blog is that you can “write ahead” and set the content to post on a pre-determined schedule. No matter how busy you are, your prospects will continue to get a steady drip of content that positions you as an expert and increases the “know, like and trust” factor so they are more receptive to your marketing.
What are you waiting for?
There’s no better time than now to sit down with your calendar and plan your marketing collateral. Figuring out what you can use and when will make your marketing smoother, more focused and less stressful in the coming months.