The new year brings out lots of great habits in people brought on by a refreshing holiday break or a complete pile of resolutions conceived under pain of the New Year’s Day hangover perhaps. Whatever the cause, this is the time of year to use that to your business’s advantage before the enthusiasm peters out.
For me this week, I sat down with the discipline to do some planning as is my habit in the quiet first week back to work when many are still on holiday or partly in holiday mode. It was productive as a band of one as I tackled financial & business planning, marketing planning and the oft overlooked editorial planning. I’ve worked in media and publishing for most of my career. There is one question that I’m always finding myself asking, no matter who is my employer du jour (or really de l’annee, but that hasn’t the same ring to it). Where is the Editorial Calendar. I know any one who’s worked with me in the past will be rolling their eyes at the mere mention!
And this year I’m in a retail business. I sell products. Simple.
Or maybe not. One of the big problems in ecommerce for me is that there is never enough information when buying online. Some businesses are solving this by offering free or low price shipping and free returns. Others are including reviews, ask a friend or other community content solutions. And this gap in information is also opening up a really fantastic market that bloggers are filling with so many angles on product reviews and other content. All of these things are great developments and I would encourage anyone in any ecommerce business to avail themselves of all of them.
Alsa, back to my Editorial Calendar. Why is this so important?
- Resource planning – if you have a business that uses content in any way, someone has to write that content. And that someone needs a guide, even if it’s written in a fully editable online document. The editorial calendar is your content plan and will enable you to determine whether your plan fits your available resources. This is also the starting point for evaluating outsourced solutions: volume x cost per piece = budget!
- Timing – a calendar should include key holidays and national events in your target market. If you’re in any business that capitalises on the surge of romance or depression that happens around 14 February, your editorial calendar should ensure that you know what day of the week it falls on this year (a Tuesday) and how far in advance you should be promoting your message. Obvious, but we all know how time flies and these things creep up on us. Set your deadlines for content creation well in advance, especially around special events when the airwaves get crowded.
- Testing – you might be in the fortunate position of already knowing what day of the week will get the most opens on your email or when most people come to your blog or Facebook page. If so, kudos to you and I hope none of your customers change in the slightest this year. For the rest of us, having an editorial calendar allows planning out simple tests around day and time to publish. When you’re just starting out, you might not have critical mass to do these tests, but by following your plan, your audience is sure to grow.
- Joining the Dots – Anyone using more than one channel to communicate with your customers, who are also your audience, community and prospects, will find it a great help to layout what’s happening on one channel versus another. Making connections across different parts of your business is critical, especially in a high growth phase. It will also help you as a springboard for making connections outside of your business. A good way to solve your resource problem might be to find guest bloggers, for example.
Afterall, things change, but if you don’t know your starting point, it’s not change, it’s just random events.
I’d love to hear any tips you have for editorial planning.