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Six Foolproof Ways to Fill Your Editorial Calendar
Jeffrey Lee / Hanley Wood Marketing / September 19, 2013
For content marketers, an editorial calendar is the ultimate stress reducer. Instead of scrambling to come up with a compelling topic when you have a newsletter to deliver or you’re overdue for a blog, you can simply pull up your strategically planned content calendar and get started.
But the forethought and planning that make editorial calendars such useful tools are also the traits that make them challenging to develop. Instead of just coming up with one enthralling article idea that you can use right now, you need to develop dozens of engrossing topics that will work throughout the year ahead.
As an editorial lead at Hanley Wood Marketing, I regularly create and revise editorial calendars for content campaigns, especially as planning for 2014 begins in earnest. And I’ve developed a few foolproof methods for coming up with content ideas that will capture an audience’s interest.
Pick up the phone
Look, I said these methods were foolproof, not easy. Picking up the phone and talking to experts and members of your audience is the best way to come up with ideas for new content. It’s also one of the most time-consuming.
At some point in the development of every editorial calendar, I try to make the time to schedule a call with a subject matter expert to talk through all of my content ideas. Not only does this process validate the topics I’ve chosen as relevant and meaningful to the audience (or, sometimes, better off left in the “revisit later” column), it invariably generates new topics and twists on my current ideas and fleshes out the ideas with potential sources or approaches. Find a reliable expert you can count on for this conversation; treat them to coffee, lunch or booze as necessary.
Like any good beat reporter, you’ll also need to place a phone call to your best sources a couple of times each year. Members of your audience (or related manufacturers or association reps) can tell you about the things that are keeping them up at night or the subjects they’d like to hear more about. Ask about people you can profile, legislation they’re keeping an eye on, or industry trends that are affecting their business.
Tools of the trade
Professionals in any industry are always on the lookout for tools and resources that help them do their job better. If you’re running a well-rounded content marketing campaign, you’re likely creating some of these resources yourself in the form of white papers, training courses or handbooks. Add the releases of these resources to your editorial calendar schedule so you can promote them in your communications.
But not all “product” topics need to be self-promotional. For Hanley Wood’s construction audiences, the types of products they use in their job range from hand tools to design software to home financing providers. If you can provide informative and credible content on a product category that’s important to your audience, they’ll treat all of your content marketing efforts with higher regard.