How to Build Content Calendars for Resource Planning
Every content marketer has their own frameworks and processes to help them develop content. All agree on the importance of content calendars but there are many different approaches to their development. What is important is that you find a method that suits your clients and helps increase performance.
My method has been shaped by a background in digital performance. With this in mind, I’ve always found the traditional method of creating content calendars —writing topics within dated boxes— needed to be developed further. While this method allows you to plan topics and align activity with other internal and external stake holders in the business, it fails to address one essential area; resource.
Each type of content requires a varying amount of resource to plan, execute and distribute. This resource is dictated by the team and finance at your disposal but also on the dependencies from other stake holders in the process, e.g. the client or their PR/social agency.
Some content types may take significantly longer to approve due to internal legal/risk sign-off or the technical limitations in publishing onto the client website.
The first step in this approach is to classify the content you can produce in order of resource. As you see from the diagram to the right, this would then become your layered model to present to clients or internally within your business.
This model follows similar lines to one recently presented by Tony Samios, COO Caliber, at the Content Marketing Show.
- Bronze 70% – Landing pages, blog posts, how to articles, curated content
- Silver 20% – Content outside the box, unique handles on subjects and interests. Thought leadership
- Gold 10% – Something never attempted that will force people to sit up and notice. microsites, experiential, celebrity involvement
It is up to you to determine what content types and campaigns fit into each layer of your model, use as many levels as required. As mentioned earlier, I’d recommend that the levels represent the effort that goes into producing this content, both in terms of resource (or expense) and the level of stake holder integration that will be required. Bronze or C level content will need to be planned, produced and distributed on a regular basis, as this forms the basis of your “always on” content strategy.
One interesting side effect of this model is that, over time, you will find that content types or campaigns tend to move down the pyramid as processes become easier and the abilities and ambitions of both your team and the client increase.
Now that we have a view of resource and content types, we can use this information to plan out our content activity; developing a content calendar that addresses this perspective. This model encourages us to think about concurrent flow of content releases, from single articles to larger, hero campaigns that will make significant performance gains for the client.
The diagram above shows the weekly/monthly view, but daily can be more appropriate to cover off the base level activity, depending on your requirements.
This method allows us to plan varying levels of content production across the year, supporting key events that are important for our audience. Beyond hours, clients appreciate transparency on what their retainer will look like in terms of deliverable assets or campaigns. As you build experience in each type of content type, resource can be more accurately forecast.
It is also worth noting, that while results from specific content releases are hard to predict with accuracy, this view gives you an idea of performance across each level of your model. This will help build the business case for increases in resource, more ambitious campaigns or layers of content.