Companies want to see positive results of their content marketing strategies. They want them quick and with impressive numbers. The truth is, you need to create messages in a coherent and systematic way much in advance in order for this to happen. The tool that can help you with this is an editorial calendar.

What should I put on the blog today? Or send in the newsletter? What to post on Facebook? For many marketers these are common but disliked questions. They would like to deal with it quickly but also provide readers with valuable content – unfortunately, they can’t come up with any ideas… If you’re familiar with this dilemma, apparently you haven’t got an editorial calendar yet. And it’s high time to get one.

Advantages of editorial calendars

Many companies fail to see profitability of their content marketing operations, simply because they lack long-term content marketing plans. The goal of an editorial is to organize the activities in advance and to take a birdseye view at them. This quick overview of your strategy helps to create a coherent message and often points to the right direction, but most importantly, it enables you to publish systematically.

Contrary to what you may think, creating such a calendar does not have to be complicated. It’s enough that you make a chart in Excel and attach each row with publication dates and each column with the scope of work (subject, author, type of medium, status, etc). In addition, you can create special tabs (e.g. one tab is the main calendar giving a quick overview of the whole content planned, others describe activities in particular channels, such as a blog or newsletter) and charts to present the proceedings in a graphic way. Another solution could be to write down your activities in Google calendar with a deadline reminder. If you want something automatic and professional, you can reach for dedicated programs. But even the most intelligent tool won’t do the homework for you and won’t plan the strategy. A human element is necessary here, which still gives us advantage over machines. In order to create an effective plan, you first need to answer the following questions:

1. Who are your readers?
This question keeps coming back in content marketing, but not without a reason. You can create great content, but if your audience does not feel it was written specifically for them – they won’t find it interesting. Before you develop your editorial calendar you need to know who your target group is, what it’s greatest fears are and what kind of content it needs. After you understand your target you can think of content that could meet their needs and solve their problems.

2. What type of content do you need for sure?
Try to anticipate as much content you might need in the coming year as possible. For instance, if you’re planning to launch a new product, you will need special content for this. It’s better to plan it in advance instead of getting panicky because of the deadline coming and you still not having the text.

3. Who is going to be responsible for the publication and how frequent will it be?
Decide how frequent you are going to publish, who is going to be responsible for the research, designing, accepting and circulating the materials. Think about the subject area you would like to focus on (how about e.g. writing about a specific problem?).

Only when you know the answers to those questions start filling in the calendar with topics.

Inspiring publication examples

The content which is popular and has a high sharing rate on the net is very often the one that responds to current events, but at the same time seems natural and spontaneous. As if someone felt inspired all of a sudden, sat down to his desk and shared his thoughts with people surfing the Internet. In most cases, however, this is not what it looks like. Let’s have a look at what Oreo brand did during one of the Super Bowl finals. During this sports event there was a blackout and all of a sudden the stadium plunged into darkness. At the same time, the sweets producer posted a simple tweet saying: You can still dunk in the dark.” Did Oreo know about the blackout in advance? Of course, they didn’t. But they did know when the Super Bowl finals would be and that it’s extremely popular among American viewers. The fact people from Oreo were watching the event together with their content marketing agency in one room, they were able to react quickly, creating a simple but smart message. The tweet combined what happened at the Super Bowl and the company’s marketing (encouraging consumers to dunk the cookie in milk in their ads). It is a great example of real-time marketing, which immediately reacts to current events broadcast in the media that are important to a large part of the society, and places the brand in the context.

One of my favorite examples of this here in Poland is a billboard by Żywiec Group (and that’s not because ŻG is our client!). Last year the news spread all over Poland about the search for a golden train dating back to WWII somewhere near the city of Wałbrzych. The Group made billboards with their golden beverage standing on tracks saying: track gold. Great marketing action combining creativity with humor.

Real-time marketing is, of course, not the only type of effective content. Much inspiration is drawn from pop-culture. Upcoming film or album release are events that we know about well in advance and you can prepare to them. Warby Parker glasses producer, for example, knew that the next part of Superman is being shot, so they decided to launch a limited edition of frames inspired by the main character Clark Kent’s glasses. The company not only created a unique product and appealed to the tastes of the superhero’s fans, but it also had a great base for creating content around their special product line, often shared on the Internet.

Whenever you lack ideas or want to touch upon a broader subject, it’s good to divide your content into pieces (like TV series episodes) to build up curiosity. This is the trick used by the ESPN sports channel. The brand knew the viewers want to work out regularly in the winter in order to stay in shape, but they also realized this is the time when the motivation gets lower and you need external support. So they decided to put photos on Pinterest with inspiring slogans (you can view some of them here), which thanks to the special hashtag #coldlist were appearing in various social media. Publishing your content in pieces gives you an opportunity to build commitment among your audience and to promote not only your current content but also other things with one single action.






It’s also worth considering infographics, which are a quick and attractive way to deliver key information, and e-books, which can be very useful and helpful for the readers. This is what the founders of American dating site did: they employed an author who developed an e-booka together with their experts about today’s dating methods. The company was giving ideas about how to meet someone, which was very important from the point of view of their audience. The owners of the guide were also getting a three-month access to the site, so the company was not only encouraging to visit their website but was also getting access to new audience who hadn’t known the site before.

The last example is a short video by Dove. The brand has been building its values around promoting natural beauty of women for many years, and this time it used the same strategy. The idea for the campaign was that a drawer drew women without looking at their faces, and he did it twice: first, based on the women’s own description of themselves, and then based on how others described them. As a result the more beautiful portraits were the latter ones, and the entire campaign was summarized by the slogan “You are more beautiful than you think.” I love this spot for its use of a psychological measure that many women can identify with. The video is smart, moving and inspiring.

When you look for ideas for your content remember that your customers are your compass. Every piece of information that you get from them – questions, likes, comments – is an important hint which can help you read their needs.

Below you can view example of editorial calendar template: