A step by step guide to content planning
Since lockdown, I’ve been on a mission to provide helpful comms tips. Simple things that every business can be doing now to help you hit the ground running when customers return.
Creating a plan and sticking to it seems to be the biggest hurdle for most people. It’s usually the case that your own content takes a back seat to client work. So, for this post I’m tackling the subject of content planning, give you some ideas of where to find inspiration and how to make planning easy.
“I don’t know where to start!”
If you’re guilty of uttering these words when faced with writing an engaging social media post or an original blog post, creating a content planner should really help. A simple excel sheet or word doc will do.
Treat it like a client project
Most of us make plans for clients in the course of our work. Yet doing the same for your own business makes you feel SO guilty. When the pressure is on, it’s just as important to set aside time for your own planning as it is for clients. Whilst it may not make you any money at this stage, getting your content consistent and on point with reap rewards in the long term.
If you’d like a copy of my content planner template, please get in touch and I’ll send you one.
Consider customer mindset
Mindset is my starting point for planning any kind of content. Take each month in turn and ask yourself, “What’s important to my customers at this time of year?” and “What are my customers talking about at this time of year?”
Take September, for example, it’s a very busy month for many people. Kids go back to school, summer holidays are a distant memory for most (or all of us right now!), and many businesses are starting to ramp up activity for Christmas. Plotting this information on your planner will help you to identify with, and respond to, what your customers are thinking and feeling.
General important calendar dates
From Christmas to Valentine’s day, every year is packed full of special occasions and celebrations. Make sure you don’t miss out on talking about these by plotting them on your content planner. Include dates from different cultures and religions to be respectful and inclusive.
Key dates for your business
Next you can plot the special dates, milestones and anniversaries for the business. This could be anything from a product or campaign launch to an exhibition you’re attending or an event you will speak at. All these will provide you with essential content to share throughout the year.
Identify seasonal trends in interest
Are certain products/services more popular at different times of year? When do your clients do their budget setting and planning? If you can identify peaks and troughs in purchasing, you can tailor your content to target new business during traditionally slow periods.
Pulling it all together
Now comes the hard part! Look at the two rows above and try to match up your own key messages with what your audience is talking about during each month. Break your ideas down by channel. By this I mean have a separate planning line for blogs, your newsletter, video and all your social media channels.
Here’s an example from one of my own blogs: Perfect Partnerships: Web designer + copywriter
And this fun post, which combines two of my favourite pastimes: How to break out from your comms routine.
Stay on track
Keep referring back to your planner and update it on a regular basis - weekly if you can. Why not ask someone to be your content planning buddy so you can keep one another honest and on track. Creating a content planner then ignoring it is not an option!
Your content planner shouldn’t be a rigid document so don’t be afraid to change tack and flex your ideas as you become more confident. Always be open to creating reactive content in response to current news and events. Not every piece of content can or should be planned.
Capturing ideas on the hoof
Finally, take a look at this post on How to create a blogging notebook. Capturing ideas whilst out and about is just as important as putting them down on your planner. If you don’t have to your planner through the cloud, carry a notebook or start a note on your phone. I promise, once you start the creative content planning process rolling, the ideas will start coming when you least expect it. Don’t ever let them escape!