If you want to help more customers, you can’t beat content marketing as a way to start conversations, share your knowledge and generate sales.
An often overlooked benefit however is the way in which your content can help you to narrow in on your zone of genius. By that, I mean that magic place where your worldview and your customer’s worldview overlap; where your shared values meet. That place where you’re doing what you do best and improving your customer’s lives at the same time.
So, throughout 2016, Inkspiller will be sharing genuinely useful content ideas and resources that your customers will connect with and that will position you as go-to company in your field. In other words, content that comes straight from your zone of genius.
We’re going to start today by giving you an easier way to run your content marketing and measure its impact.
Introducing the Super Useful Content Calendar
A Content Calendar, sometimes known as an Editorial Calendar, gives you a proven process for publishing content along with a pre-made stock of interesting and timely ideas for the year ahead. It also helps you to measure your impact, giving you insight on what your customers resonate with.
Take a look at this one that we adapted it for you (if you want to start using it you’ll need to make a copy first):
A Lightning-Quick Guide to Using the Calendar:
Making time to fill in your calendar now will take a huge burden of pressure off your content creation process in 2016. It will increase the likelihood that you will publish content when you say you will and make your efforts more meaningful.
Here’s a lightning-quick guide on how to fill in each section:
- Dates - make it consistent: Although you’ll see every day of 2016 listed here, resist the temptation to overcommit. The important thing is to make it consistent and make it doable. Many companies do that by scheduling an evergreen topic, e.g. “10 magical marketing strategies for the month” regularly.
- Dates- make it timely: Don’t fill the calendar in chronologically; plan content relating to key business events first, e.g. Are you planning an event in August? Plan content for that now. Then, look at other key dates this year. Will March’s Budget announcement affect your customers and if so, how will you respond? Finally, decide when to publish your evergreen content and plan those resources you know will take longer to organise, such as interviews or case studies.
Seasonal Themes - make it relevant: We’ve included some prompts for seasonal and longer-term events here which will be relevant to many businesses. For example, Black Friday is now the year’s biggest trading day for most eCommerce businesses. What are key periods for your business? Is London Fashion Week massive in your industry? You’ll want to tweak seasonal themes so that they’re relevant to you.
Significant Days - PR opportunities: Some of the weird and wonderful significant days in the calendar may seem daft (‘National Belly-Laugh Day’ anyone?) but they may spark some more interesting and shareable ways to impart your know-how. Plus, the media will be covering them, so any content you create can do double duty as a press release that may get you some nice PR.
Topic Summaries - reduce blank page panic: What will this post focus on? Sum up your idea here in a few lines so that when you come to write it, you’re not facing the dreaded blank page. Adding to this rough outline means that you can note down inspiring concepts, research and resources you gather on your travels.
Working Title - play with great titles: Most people will only read the title so make sure that you a) impart value with a useful title and b) make the title intriguing enough that they can’t resist reading more. This section of the calendar is a useful place to keep a record of title ideas or note down inspiring titles that jump out at you elsewhere.
Keywords - make it search engine friendly: What questions do you readers need answers to? What words or phrases will they Google? Once you’ve pinned these down, use them in your title, your tags and (if applicable) throughout your content itself to give your work the best possible chance of being found. Identifying your keywords also helps you to get a grip on your topic - if you’re finding it hard to come up with the keywords, you may need to get clearer on your topic.
Audience - speak to the right people: Picking an audience for your post (from the drop-down list on the calendar which, by the way, is editable from the Lists tab) will help you focus on the person you’re writing for. Tracking this will also ensure that you’re not favouring one audience type over another.
Author- who’s going to write it? Accountability really is a wonderful thing. So is delegating.
Editor- who’s going to edit it? Decide who will be wielding the red pen and having the final say-so on the finished post.
Image - a picture is worth a 1,000 words: Social media posts with images are shared 2-3 times more than plain text alone. So it’s vital to make the time to find the right copyright-friendly image, then put a link to it in this section of the calendar so you don’t lose track of it.
Status - reduce your email overload: When you update this area of the calendar, everyone on your team can see how the content creation process is going without the need to email (who doesn’t want fewer emails?). You’re also less likely to publish unfinished content accidentally when you use this feature..
Measure & improve publication channels: Tweak this section to include the social channels you use most frequently. Then, once you’ve published, use it to track responses and results. Can you attribute any noticeable uptake in traffic, leads or sales from a particular channel? Where can you improve?
- Results - have you found your zone of genius yet? Understanding which of your content has had the most impact on your audience will help you really narrow in on that zone of genius; that place where you do what you do best, whilst helping improve other people’s lives.
Understanding the real reasons your customers choose you is the nub of everything we do at Inkspiller. In fact, it’s the whole reason we exist.
That’s why we’ll be sharing more super useful content ideas and resources to find your zone of genius, over 2016.
We’re also offering 1-to-1 Content Coaching Sessions in January if you need to get a grip on your content strategy quickly. Please reach out to Alice for details at firstname.lastname@example.org
In the meantime, we wish you massive momentum, joy and happiness for the year ahead.
P.S. We’re indebted to our colleague Andrea Goulet for creating the Content Calendar in the first place and highly recommend her brilliant class, ‘Become a Better Blogger - Content Planning’: http://classes.yourbrandvox.com/courses/become-a-better-blogger-content-planning