Developing a Content Calendar

(A Ready. Set. Share. contributing post on www.handmadeinpa.net)

It’s a new year and time to start thinking about where you want to go with your business over the next twelve months.  One tool to help pull things in to focus is a Content Calendar (Let’s refresh with the Wikipedia definition of Content Marketing: “all marketing formats that involve the creation or sharing of content for the purpose of engaging current and potential consumer bases.”)

Content calendars help you navigate the year ahead with not only marketing, but also general scheduling.  There are lots of ways to develop your Content Calendar – the key is to use something that is easily edited.  I use Excel.

To get started, pull out a 2012 calendar and start entering your shows and exhibits and any ideas of content related to those events that you could share. And leave space so that its easy to add more ideas – this is not a one-and-done exercise.   For example, if you’re attending the Pennsylvania Guild Fine Craft Fair in Philadelphia in May, what are topics you could use?  The show is around Mother’s Day – what products do you have that would be great for Mom?  Share your favorite gift received, if you’re a mom, or the gift your mom loved most.  The show is in Philly – what are some hot spots that you would recommend?  Favorite gallery, restaurant or theater?  What else is happening in the Philly area that weekend that you love or would recommend?  Remember, this isn’t so much about promoting you/your work but rather sharing information.  But do remember to invite people to stop by your booth during the show (and give them the Booth # when you know it).

Next figure out where and how you can use that information.  I set up my calendar with events/topics down the left column, methods across the top.  For each event/topic, I have a column for: Print Ads, Press Releases, TV Ads, Email Blasts, Facebook, Twitter, etc.  Then enter the date you need to complete the task or want the information shared and the angle that you’re going to use.  And don’t feel that you have to use each method for every event/topic.

Developing a Content Calendar is also helpful in making sure you don’t overbook yourself or book things too closely together. Adding holidays to the calendar will help you see dates that could affect your normal tasks, like sending out a press release in time to meet print deadlines.

There are lots of resources out there.  This post, “How to Put Together an Editorial Calendar for Content Marketing” by Michele Linn, was helpful to me.

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Are You Content Marketing?

Do you tweet?  Do you Facebook?  What’s your online marketing strategy?  Do you use content marketing?  Is your head swimming just from trying to figure them all out??  Let me see if I can help with one that’s all a-buzz on the internet – content marketing.

Content Marketing, according to Wikipedia, is “all marketing formats that involve the creation or sharing of content for the purpose of engaging current and potential consumer bases.”  Uh-huh, so how does that differ from just marketing?

Content marketing is about sharing your story, not telling everyone how wonderful you are or your work is or where to buy your work.   Content marketing helps build customer loyalty and brand recognition.  Its really not usually about you at all, but rather about your industry, community or even just general information.

Here are some content marketing snippets and examples from some of my favorite folks:

– From Stephanie Distler’s Blog“I am participating in Small Business Saturday TOMORROW! :)”  The post goes on to talk about Small Business Saturday with a short closing with Steph’s hours.  It was all about Small Business Saturday, but I know now (even if I didn’t already know her) that Steph is someone who cares about and supports Small Businesses – whether it be hers or others.

– From the Facebook page of the Northern Tier Cultural Alliance “The Yorkholo Brewing Co. (19 N. Main St) in Mansfield will be holding its first annual Beer dinner, 7 courses of all local produce and meats paired with their artisan beer and ales… The food served here by the Head Chef Mitch Gruber is extraordinary, he has great vision and skill & you won’t be disappointed. (The Chef and Owners have embraced the idea of BFBL to the degree of using all local ingredients in their dinner and lunch daily menu.)”  Nothing to do with the Northern Tier Cultural Alliance, other than a short reference to the BFBL program which they administer in the Northern Tier.  Fully supportive of another local business, building a sense of community and sharing.

– From the web site of Milk Way Farms: A photo’s worth a thousand words!  Sharing photos (with captions) of not just products, but also the animals and people on the farm gives a glimpse into the personality of the family and of farm life.

– From a tweet by the Everhart Museum in Scranton (always fun and slightly off-the-wall, but always relevant):  Need more Xmas gifts? Those cheeky monkeys @MuseumofLondon have a plague rat handpuppet for salehttp://bit.ly/rXcWRy #fleasgiveratsabadname  Passing along and sharing industry news (museums in this case) is a great way to build not just your organization’s buzz but also interest in the industry in general.

Still not sure?  Just do a search for “content marketing” and start browsing through the pages of definitions, templates and examples!