Planning Your 2016 Content Marketing Calendar
There are only a few weeks left in 2015, and that means it’s time to start planning your marketing calendar for 2016. Actually, that time was about three months ago, but we both know that you’re probably just now getting around to it. Hey, no worries—we’re all busy small business owners here, so we’re not going to judge you if you’re running a little behind. If fact, I’d like to give you a bit of a head start on your marketing plan for 2016 by helping you map out your content marketing plan for next year.
Below, I’ve provided twelve ideas for blog posts that can be applied to any business—that’s one blog post for each month. After writing each blog post (or having a copywriter write it for you), read it or summarize it while standing in front of a camera—use teleprompter software from freetelepromptersoftware.com to help you. Upload the video to YouTube and/or a video podcast on iTunes. Then, copy and paste at least a portion of the blog post into your email newsletter template, and send that to your list once a month.
Do that, and you’ll have 36 pieces of nice educational content about your business by the end of 2016 that will bring you traffic and leads well into the following year and beyond. Are you ready? Let’s get started:
January: Share your goals for 2016
Most people spend some time around the New Year at least thinking about setting some goals for things they’d like to accomplish during the year. Some people even end up actually setting those goals. By “setting goals” I mean putting in writing exactly what you intend to accomplish and when you intend to accomplish it by. People who do this are far more likely to accomplish those goals.
If you set goals for your business in 2016, why not publicly share them with your customers on your blog in January? People respect businesses that are constantly seeking to improve and grow. Yes, there is a danger that if you end up not accomplishing goals that you shared publicly, people might be aware of your failure. Who cares? People will still appreciate the fact that you’re even trying, and they’ll trust you more for being authentic.
February: Interview an employee
Help your customers get to know your staff a little better by featuring one of your best employees on your blog. Interview them about their job, using some or all of the following questions:
- How long have you worked here?
- What do you like most about your job?
- Share a story about a time you really helped a customer solve a problem.
- What do you like to do in your spare time?
To make this really powerful, do the interview on video and use the transcript for the blog post. If you don’t have any employees, interview a vendor instead. This will help your customers become more comfortable with your team, which will make them trust you more. You never know when that trust might come in handy.
March: Do a “top 10” or “roundup” style blog post
This is a blog post where you make a list of great resources your customers might be interested in. For example, a CPA could post a list of the top ten personal finance blogs or top ten budget apps for smartphones. These types of posts tend to generate lots of backlinks, especially if you contact all the sites you link to in the post and let them know they’ve been featured on your blog.
April: Answer a “Should Ask Question”
A “should ask question” is one that your customers should ask about your products or services, but don’t know enough about what you do to even know to ask those questions. These types of questions really position you as an expert in your niche and demonstrate how smart you are to potential customers.
May: Answer a “Frequently Asked Question”
While “should ask questions” make great content, the problem is that not a lot of people will be searching for answers to these types of questions on Google. That’s where frequently asked questions come in handy. Check your “sent email” folder to see what types of questions you and your staff answer over and over again. Pick one topic, and write an 800—1,000-word blog post about it. These tend to show up in search results, especially if you get a few quality backlinks to the post.
June: Do a seasonal post
June marks the beginning of summer, which in the U.S. is a time of transition for many people and businesses. Schools close for the summer, colleges shift to different schedules, some seasonal business wind up for their busy season and others wind down for a few months (think ski resorts). Many families get ready to take their annual vacation. Just about any business can find a way to relate their products or services to one of these transitions. Use this for June’s blog post.
July: Interview one of your customers or strategic partners
Everyone loves seeing their name in the paper, even if it’s just your paper (aka, blog). Invite one of your best customers to be interviewed for a feature on your blog and in your email newsletter. Ask them questions like:
- How long have you been our customer?
- What do you like best about what we do?
- How have our products or services benefitted you?
- What tips can you offer other customers to help them get the most from our product or service?
For some businesses (divorce attorneys, counselors, etc.) this might not be appropriate due to privacy concerns. In that case, interview a strategic partner instead of a customer—it will work just as well.
August: Publish an infographic
Infographics are all the rage these days, and if you can create one that helps people in your industry support their position on a topic—especially if that topic is somewhat controversial—it could get a lot of shares and links. There will be a cost of time and money involved here to develop the infographic, but if done well, it will be more than worth it.
September: Invite a strategic partner to write a guest post
After working hard on your blog for eight months, it’s time to take a month off. Let someone else create some nice content for your website by inviting a strategic partner to write a guest post for your blog. Make sure they know you will promote their post on social media and in your email newsletter. Also, make sure they understand the SEO value of writing a guest post—just send them a link to an article that explains guest blogging to them.
October: Write a case study about a successful project you’ve completed this year
Hopefully, by this point in the year, you have a least one major success story under your belt for 2016. Write a case study about it, including what life was like for your customer before they found you, what you did to help them, and how life was better for them afterward. Include numbers and data to support your case study if possible. This might just be the most valuable blog post you write this year because you can use it in your lead conversion process for a long time to come.
November: Write a post about the holidays
Yeah, I know, writing a blog post that somehow relates your products and services to the end-of-year holiday season is cliché, but let’s face it—this time of year, it’s probably what you and your customers are going to be thinking about half the time anyway. You might as well acknowledge that and use it to create some content for your blog.
December: Do a year-in-review post
Remember that blog post you wrote in January about your goals for 2016? Do a post updating your progress regarding those goals, along with anything else your business accomplished during the year. If it was a bad year, focus on some of the challenges you had to overcome. If it was a good year, highlight your achievements.
In either case, spending some time thinking about everything you managed to do during the course of an entire year is a valuable exercise. Chances are you’ll be shocked at how much you accomplished. If you had told me at the beginning of 2015 that by the end of the year I would become a best-selling author, be named to a list of the top 100 business bloggers of the year, and be the president of a brand new BNI chapter, I wouldn’t have believed you—but I accomplished all those things and more.
If you stick to the content marketing plan I outlined above for an entire year, I’ll bet that by the time you write your year-in-review post for 2016, you’ll have some pretty impressive accomplishments to discuss as well.