Content marketing teams are not meant to be reactionary. Yet without a Content Strategy as a framework and an Editorial Calendar to keep you organized, many content marketing teams watch as the most mission-critical content pieces get pushed back, while one-off requests take over.
How often were you planning to publish new blog posts and send email newsletters this year? How many webinars did you hope to host? What about your social? Did you support that conference or podcast or ebook properly when it happened?
It can be extremely hard for content marketing teams to seize control of the content process when requests come flooding in (all marked “urgent”) or pieces are created in other departments without a branded message or worse, without a strategy.
CONTENT STRATEGY: IT’S NOT THAT EASY
The problem is often two-fold: how can a marketing team know which content to prioritize looking forward, and second, how on earth are you supposed to organize it all?
At Timeshare CMO, we’ve worked through this process for clients and over time have developed a flexible, robust way to organize it. Today, we’re sharing not only the steps to a useful content audit, content strategy, and editorial calendar, we’re giving you the organizational template to do your own.
As organizations go through the arduous but revitalizing process of creating a Content Strategy, this Airtable base provides the infrastructure to support loads of information while giving people on your team different options for how to view it.
What’s Airtable? Airtable is a cloud-based spreadsheet-database hybrid, with the features of a database but applied to a spreadsheet. Basically, you can organize any kind of content in different (pretty) ways. And no, we are not paid to promote this product; we just really like it.
KONDO YOUR CONTENT
At Timeshare CMO, we’ve found that a good Content Strategy starts with a Content Audit, then Strategy is built using pertinent data, and when approved, gives life to a handy, helpful Editorial Calendar—all organized here.
This particular Airtable base is particularly useful for a mid-sized company with several products/topics, annual events, and a robust marketing and approval process in place—and one with the desire to stop reacting to content requests and start operating around a broader content strategy.
THE CONTENT AUDIT
Our team here at Timeshare CMO likens this process to cleaning out your closet. It’s best to start with a Content Audit—the process of taking everything out of your closet and dumping it on the bed so you can see what you have. We use the first table in this base to pick through the piles, determining what’s worth keeping, what’s worth “mending” and reusing, and what can be thrown out. And yes, this is a good time to pull in your colleagues to see what content still brings joy (or sales leads). They can help you find anything you’ve missed and decide what to keep or toss.
In the Content Audit airtable, we’ve used labels to sort existing content by step in the funnel and by topic, which makes it easy to see where your content gaps are.
THE CONTENT STRATEGY
The second step is the Content Strategy. Informed by extensive data (hopefully) and tough conversations with the team (ideally), the content strategy is the view forward.
Organized into buckets of content by theme, you can take a bird’s-eye view of the coming content year. Where do you need to add outreach? What steps in the sales process need attention? What content will support your product launch, annual event, or suite of offerings?
Here’s what it could look like:
In the Content Strategy table, you’ll notice the final column allows you to mark a project’s level of difficulty and level of reward.
We created a matrix with four quadrants, representing whether something is high difficulty/high reward, low difficulty/high reward, etc.
This forces a team to rank the efficacy of the tasks that eat up the most time. Anything high difficulty/low reward? You may want to consider scrapping it.
THE EDITORIAL CALENDAR
The third step is creating the Editorial Calendar. This is the meat of the process and the table you’ll visit nearly every day. Informed by the previous table (Content Strategy), the Editorial Calendar breaks out the many content pieces and deliverables that it takes to make your organization run the content year with confidence.
This is essentially like folding your favorite clothes and putting them back into your closet now that you’ve cleaned it out. Doesn’t it feel good?
There are many ways to split this out and many ways different people will think about a year’s worth of content. Some people think month-by-month. Some people think in terms of sales opportunities. Some are focused on the promotion of a particular product or event. The beauty of Airtable is the ability to organize this cumbersome list of to-do’s in different ways for different uses or for different members of your team.
We especially love the month-by-month Kanban. It shows what’s due each month, ranked in order of difficulty/reward rating we just described.
We’re passing along this skeleton Airtable base in the hopes that it helps organizations who are going through this “closet-cleaning” process that is so worth it in the end.
Want help cleaning out your content marketing closet? Contact us to work with Timeshare CMO on conducting a Content Audit & Content Strategy for your business.