You know TFW you’ve done everything short of calling out to the Instagram gods to magically write a witty caption for you?
Yet somehow, after racking your brain, writing, erasing, and rewriting, you’re still stuck with a blank square and a blinking cursor. Honey, have we been there.
Raise your hand if you’ve even committed the cardinal sin of slapping up a quick post or sending a last-minute email newsletter just to cross off your marketing checklist for the day?
It makes total sense, with a small team and a lack of support, you’re likely wearing more hats than the Village People! You pour your heart and soul into your mission every day and the last thing you have time for is creating a marketing calendar. We’ve been there and we know this next line might sting a little—bee pun intended—but those marketing efforts are a true necessity and must be prioritized in order to increase your brand awareness and move past a one-hit-wonder (do the Village People sing anything other than the Y.M.C.A??). Don’t fret just yet though, we put together this simple, yet powerful, (totally FREE!) template and some easy steps that will keep your team on track without taking up too much of your very precious time.
But first things first, what is a content marketing calendar?
It’s pretty simple really, a content marketing calendar is a tool to keep your content well-organized, on track, and pre-curated so you can avoid accidentally posting your morning latte six times in a row. It’s a place where you can brainstorm and layout a strategic plan for your marketing efforts in advance. Think a comprehensive road map for your email campaigns, blog posts, videos, infographics, social media, and promotions, all ready to share. It’s a place to hold all of your concepts as well as assign them to a writer, designer, or scheduler so that nothing is left in the hands of those unreliable Instagram gods!
So how do I create a marketing calendar template?
STEP 1: KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
In order to successfully communicate and grow your brand, you have to know exactly who you’re talking to and where they’re “hanging out” in the digital world.
- Determine your key demographics of your audience
- How old are they?
- Male, female, non-binary?
- Where do they live?
- Once you’ve determined the key demographics you want to target, it’s time to research what platforms they’re utilizing.
- Are they most active on social media?
- Would they enjoy a little love in their inbox?
- Maybe they can’t say no to a good blog post.
- Consider if your audience changes based on the campaign, seasonality, or content you’re sharing.
- Does Debbie, your main target, have 6 kids and zero time for breathing from 6 AM – 6 PM? But she’s ready to wine-and-scroll after 8 PM when they crash for the night.
The more you can narrow down their habits and interests the more you can connect with them in a specific and authentic way. Meet them where they are so you can learn exactly what it is that entices them to buy, donate, or engage!
STEP 2: KNOW YOURSELF
This one might sound obvious but now that you’ve got a good understanding of who you’re going to be talking to, it’s time to fall back on your brand’s core identity. What type of tone does your brand have? Does your brand personality lean toward fun and casual (National Ice Cream Day is an office-observed holiday)? Or does your business value eco-friendliness and education (perhaps mark your calendars for International Day of Forests, March 21).
? Remember, every image, color palette, and font your audience sees, and every caption, email header, and blog topic they read will be a direct representation of your brand. That means it’s crucial to choose and write content that feels true to who you are as a company, that advocates for your mission, and educates your audience on your vision and the core values you uphold.
If you’re feeling a bit self-conscious or like you’re not clear on your brand’s heart, you’re not alone. Sometimes it’s hard to see the forest for the trees. We would love to help.
STEP 3: BUILD YOUR CALENDAR AROUND BIG DATES
You know that fundraising event you’ve been working tirelessly on? Or the product launch you’re planning for next season? These large scale happenings and projects are a great place to start organizing. Build an email campaign that hints at the event or product launch. Then write some social media captions and a blog post to communicate the details. Don’t forget that national holidays and annual ongoings are perfect for announcements and themed celebrations, like New Year’s or back to school. Have fun with these dates by offering specials that are unique to the holiday and your brand.
STEP 4: FILL IN THE GAPS
Now that each month has a structure to it, you can start filling in the gaps. Create marketing content leading up to those events, holidays, and launches. You can educate your audience on the narrative behind each big event, offer a glimpse into the production phase, show off the small but necessary details, and promote any preceding events. Bonus points if you can come up with content that feels related to and aligned with the big dates but stands on its own. Some examples would be an e-book or guide, webinar, podcast, a guest post from an expert in the industry, etc. Your audience will love the stories, teasers, and BTS look at your brand.
STEP 5: GET GRANULAR AND GET AFTER IT
Remember when we figured out where your audience likes to hangout? Now is the time to meet them in all of the places they love to digitally visit. Consider writing a detailed blog post first, then break it down into smaller digestible bites to share. Use pieces of the blog in an email newsletter, social media post, print or direct mail, and with collaborators and partners. This will save you time on writing and rewriting content plus you won’t miss a member of your key demographic because you’ll be targeting them from all angles. Be sure to delegate and use color-coding to assign tasks to each team and get after it!
Now that your plan is taking place, take advantage of the many helpful FREE tools at your fingertips. Head on over to our blog post for Game-changing Free Resources for the Budget-Conscious Business
However you decide to begin your journey to organized content, a publishing schedule and our simple steps will allow you to engage with your audience, put out high-quality content, maintain a consistent presence, stay organized, save you time and mistakes, and track what works!
Without further ado, we give you our content marketing calendar template!