Having a data-driven, revenue-focused content marketing strategy is essential to the success and growth of any business-to-business (B2B) company.
But it doesn’t matter how good your content marketing plan is if it’s not fully implemented.
It’s a challenge that many B2B marketers face. When marketing tasks fall to the bottom of the to-do list, departmental priorities shift, or resources run dry, meeting content production goals can fall to the wayside.
So, how can you make sure your marketing team executes your organization’s content marketing strategy?
A content marketing calendar can help.
What Is a Marketing Calendar?
A marketing calendar—also known as a content calendar, content marketing calendar, or occasionally a content marketing plan—is an organized, accessible document that maps out your content publishing plan. It includes the five Ws for each piece of content:
- Who: Who is responsible for writing the content? Who is the intended audience?
- What: What type of content is being produced? What is the purpose of the content?
- When: When will the content be published? What are the deadlines for each part of the process (brainstorming, writing, editing, designing, reviewing, publishing, distributing, etc.)?
- Where: Where and on what marketing channels will the content be distributed?
- Why: Why is the content being produced? What purpose does it serve? How does it fit into the buyer’s journey?
Content calendars outline these details (and more) all in one place. They are valuable tools for keeping everyone involved in the content development process on the same page.
With a content marketing calendar, you can ensure your B2B company’s content marketing strategy is moving in the right direction.
Editorial Calendar vs. Content Calendar
The terms “editorial calendar” and “content calendar” are often used interchangeably. However, these types of calendars serve different roles.
Editorial calendars offer a big-picture overview of your B2B company’s content strategy, often on a yearly, quarterly, or even monthly basis. From an editorial calendar, you can see high-level themes and get a sense of the overall content goals of an organization.
Content calendars are the execution of the content strategy detailed in the editorial calendar. They include the weekly or daily content creation process, define what pieces of content will be published, and outline a plan for content distribution.
These calendars work together to plan and implement a B2B content marketing plan.
Content Marketing 101: Why Have a Content Marketing Plan?
If your B2B company publishes (or intends to publish) more than a few pieces of content each quarter, your organization needs a content marketing plan.
With a content marketing calendar, you can maintain consistency and transparency among collaborators, see individual pieces of your wider content strategy, identify content gaps throughout the year, maximize brand engagement, and plan ahead.
A content plan ensures your marketing team offers a diverse range of content in a variety of formats—all of which play a part in reaching prospective customers throughout the buyer’s journey.
Benefits of a Content Marketing Calendar
An effective content marketing calendar will lay out an implementation plan for your overall content strategy—everything from who does what, when content will be published, what topics will be covered, and what results you expect from each content piece.
But that’s not all—your B2B company can also benefit from using a content marketing calendar in a variety of other ways.
See the Big Picture
Once you have created a content marketing calendar, you can use it to see the full scope of your content marketing activity over the upcoming week, month, or more.
Everyone on your team will be able to see how their individual efforts connect to the bigger picture, and other departments—from sales to customer success to revenue operations—can get ideas for how to incorporate upcoming content into their own departmental initiatives.
Establish Deadlines and Expectations
Content calendars make it easy to plan upcoming content projects, assign tasks to specific people, set deadlines, and establish expectations. Additionally, you can see when there are overlapping deadlines or scheduling conflicts that require adjustment.
Track Marketing Budgets
A content marketing calendar is not a budget spreadsheet. However, by adding information about the estimated costs and resources needed to develop each content piece, you can use the calendar to track your marketing budget and determine what portion of expenses will be related to content production.
Reach More of Your Target Audience
A detailed content calendar takes the entirety of your total addressable market into account. It will include content that covers the needs of all buyer personas, is shared across all channels, and fits with all stages of the buyer’s journey. That way no prospective customers slip through the cracks.
Set Clear Expectations
A content marketing calendar sets clear expectations and establishes responsibilities for everyone involved in the content creation process. At a glance, anyone can see what deadlines have been met, which team member is responsible for what content pieces, and whether assets are published on schedule.
With an effective content calendar in place, your team members know exactly how they contribute to the organization content plan.
Promote Cross-Departmental Visibility
If your content calendar is in a centralized location and accessible by departments throughout your company, then everyone can view upcoming content and incorporate it into their plans. For example, while marketing team members can use a content calendar as a resource to see their responsibilities, sales team members can plan prospect communication based on recently published content.
Generate Engaging Content Ideas
Often, simply creating a content calendar leads to a brainstorming session where marketers generate engaging, creative ideas for content. You can use these calendar development meetings as opportunities to spur new ideas.
What Should a Content Calendar Include?
Every B2B business has a different content marketing strategy in place, and each has different requirements for building an effective content calendar. No two calendars will be identical. However, if you look at examples of content calendars across industries, you’ll notice many spreadsheets with similar headings identifying the most important parts to include.
Consider adding a section on your B2B content marketing calendar for each of the following items.
Who is responsible for the content piece? Ideally, one person should have ownership of the content—even if it is written, edited, and designed by different content experts.
Is the content topic approved? You may need to secure approval from a supervisor, the marketing director, or even an executive staff member, depending on the content.
What type of content will be developed? From blog posts, ebooks, and white papers to videos, infographics, and podcasts, the options are endless.
What is the purpose of the content piece? It may be educational, sales-focused, or promotional. Alternatively, it may align with different stages of the buyer’s journey. Any of this information is helpful to include.
Timing of Content
When is this content scheduled to be published? Is it timely (relevant to a trending topic among your audience) or evergreen (no expiration date)? What are the due dates for each sub-task? This data is an essential piece of your content marketing calendar.
Where will each content piece be posted? Distributing content across multiple channels is ideal, but there is often one platform where the content type and intended audience align closely.
Has the content been published? This column might be a simple yes/no option, or it could include the URL of the content piece.
How to Create a Marketing Calendar
No matter the unique content planning needs of your B2B company, you can create a content marketing calendar by following these general steps.
Establish Marketing Goals and Expectations
Before you start developing the content calendar itself, you have research organization marketing goals and expectations.
Without this step, your content marketing calendar will lack critical context and move in the wrong direction. A strategic marketing plan, on the other hand, will guide your way and encourage a multifaceted, well-rounded approach to content creation.
Analyze the Sales Cycle
Every industry and B2B company is different. Consider the length of your sales cycle, how prospects enter the buyer’s journey, and what content prospective customers prefer during each stage.
Your organization’s sales cycles will play a big part in how you construct your marketing calendar.
Research Buyer Personas
Buyer personas are an important piece of the content calendar puzzle. They help determine who you’re creating content for, what type of content you need to make, where to publish that content, and how to convert prospects into loyal customers. Your content marketing calendar needs to account for all buyer personas, outlining content pieces that meet each of their needs.
Map Out Content Creation Timelines
Some types of content take longer to produce than others. Map out content creation timelines for each content type—and don’t forget to make time for brainstorming, researching, outlining, writing, editing, designing, reviewing, tracking, and more, depending on the content.
Be generous with these timelines. It’s better to overestimate how long a content piece will take to produce than to underestimate the timeline and then fall behind.
Note Key Marketing Dates
Look at cultural, industry, and company calendars to see key marketing dates. These dates can be used to inspire content ideas or be an opportunity for connecting with prospective buyers.
Start by creating a list of major holidays, awareness days, and observances. Then, find industry dates like events, workshops, conferences, and trade shows that you may be able to reference. Finally, consider key company dates—like product launches, rebranding events, anniversaries, or press pieces. Any of these relevant dates may be a useful addition to your content calendar.
Align Topics and Types with the Buyer’s Journey
Every piece of content should align with a particular stage of the buyer’s journey. Mapping the subject matter type of content to the sales funnel ensures you are meeting the needs of your target audience from beginning to end.
Determine Promotion Methods
Consider the marketing channels your B2B company frequents and how they can be used to support your content campaigns:
- Email marketing
- Social media marketing
- Blog or website content
- Print content (magazines, brochures, newsletters, etc.)
- Live streaming events (webinars, etc.)
- Video marketing
- Paid ads
This information is an important part of your content calendar. Each content piece needs to note deadlines, platforms, and promotion methods.
Organize Information into a Calendar Format
At this point in the content calendar creation process, you have a lot of moving parts and pieces of information. Now, it’s time to organize that information into a calendar format.
For example, some companies organize content calendars into six- to eight-week intervals, each with a dedicated topic area, which is then broken down by content type, buyer’s stage, distribution channel, etc.
The goal is to find a system that works for your B2B company, accounting for your various buyer personas, content pieces, stakeholders, and more.
Distribute Documentation to Key Stakeholders
Once you’ve developed a content marketing calendar system, it’s time to share it with your team.
Make the content calendar accessible by all the key stakeholders in your B2B company—executives, marketing managers, channel owners, content creators, and more.
6 Best Marketing Calendar Tools
Depending on the size and content needs of your B2B company, a simple Google Sheets document may be the only thing you need to create a content marketing calendar. However, if your organization wants to simplify the documentation process and automate project tasks, there are several marketing calendar tools on the market you can choose from.
Here are a few of our favorites:
No matter what type of software you choose, your goal should remain the same: to create a valuable content planning tool that keeps everyone on the same page.
Need Help with a Content Marketing Calendar? Contact OneIMS
Putting together a simple content calendar is easy.
But developing a robust, detailed content marketing calendar that streamlines your content production process, meets the needs of key stakeholders, tracks the progress of content pieces, and identifies opportunities for revenue-generation is much easier said than done.
Fortunately, you don’t have to do it alone. We can help.
At OneIMS, our team of content marketing experts has the strategies, solutions, and tools you need to improve your content marketing process, from developing a content calendar to restructuring your entire content marketing strategy. Our goal is to transform your business into a revenue-generating machine through the power of content marketing.
We have a long history of working with companies in a variety of industries to develop innovative and data-driven marketing solutions, and we pride ourselves on producing measurable and sustainable results.
Are you ready to take the next step in optimizing your content marketing plan? Schedule a consultation with us today to get started.