Ok, I’m going to reveal a bit of my neurotic planning side.
Several years ago, I was working full time and getting my MBA. Knowing how busy I would be, I planned my family’s weekly menus before the start of one semester--for 13 weeks. From there, I made a list of all of the ingredients we would need, and my husband and I spent one “date night” grocery shopping for all of the non-perishables we would need for 3 months. My husband and I still laugh about the 15 cans of black beans loaded in our cart.
Yes, this kind of pre-planning was a bit obsessive, but I wish I had such discipline now. Instead, I too often ask, “What should we have for dinner tonight?”
It’s just like your B2B marketing. Do you have a structured yet flexible plan, or do you find yourself constantly asking, “What am I going to write about this week?”
If you are looking to gain efficiency with your content marketing efforts, here are some ideas.
Create an editorial calendar
The first thing I suggest is to lay out a content plan and have a place to store ideas. Jamie has a really useful blogging template, and I use a slightly different editorial calendar to plan my content.
Even though an editorial calendar provides structure to your content, it should also be a very fluid document. Just like I did with the 13 weeks of menu planning, I wasn’t regimented, but it helped to have things to choose from.
Plan reuse from the start
This is something we talk about pretty frequently at Savvy, but I can’t stress this point enough. Going back to my neurorotic planning for a minute, I would always plan menus in which I could use ingredients multiple nights.
Use the same thought for your content: think about the different ways you may be able to reuse something before you actually start creating. Once you get into this habit, it’s amzing how much time you’ll save, how much more content you can create, and how much more cohesive your plan will look to your audience.
Combine long and short content
Just like all of your meals don’t need to be masterpieces, all of your content doesn’t need to be a huge undertaking, either. Looking for short content ideas? Here are two posts I love:
- Russell Sparkman has a 1-7-30-4-2-1 schedule in which he lays out a plan on how to create both short and long content so that you are consistently publishing.
- Mark Schaefer created a fantastic presentation on creating micro-content. I love this because it helps make diving in a lot a less intimidating.
Consider series and other recurring content
With your content, think about what you can produce consistently. Something that we have done at Savvy to gain efficiency is to add a weekly series called Savvy Speaks in which we weigh in on topics pertinent to B2B marketing. Establishing this format was a big help, but what has been even more beneficial is queuing up several posts at once so we can go in and answer multiple questions instead of tackling each every week. We all agree it has been a huge time-saver! It’s like familes who plan pasta night for every Wednesday.
Schedule writing or editing day
Even though I had a menu plan and lots of non-perishables, I planned one weekly trip to the store where I’d buy the fresh ingredients we’d need and then spend an hour each weekend prepping all of the vegetables, etc. Huge time saver as I wasn’t making multiple trips to the store or spending lots time cooking each night.
Plan the same kind of routine with your content. For instance, I edit another blog, and one of the things I am now doing is requesting all posts for the following week on a Monday. I then block out time on Tuesday morning to edit everything. Just setting aside this time in my schedule has really helped me get through a lot work more quickly.
Yes, the planning takes time, but once you get into the habit, it is saves so much time, and I bet you'll be far happier with your content as well.
I’d love to know what other tips you have for gaining efficiencies with your marketing efforts. And, if you have any stories to share about how you love to plan, I’d love to hear those as well!
About the author: Michele is the Content Development Director of the Content Marketing Institute where where she works with a fabulous group of contributors who know a lot about content marketing. She's also a B2B content marketing consultant who has a passion for helping companies use content to connect with their ideal buyers. You can follow her onTwitter @michelelinn or read more of her posts on Savvy B2B.