This post is due to a Twitter exchange that ended a bit badly because I misunderstood the person's intentions. He was using Twitter to fire rapid questions at me after I completed my session at the Lead Management Summit on Tuesday and into Wednesday morning. The questions were coming so fast – before I could answer one, another several would appear.
I became frustrated that it appeared he either wasn't understanding me, that I wasn't understanding him or, even worse, that he wanted to argue about the concept of editorial calendars I had shared during my session. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and it doesn't need to agree with mine, after all. Many roads to Oz, as they say.
Because the extent of a Tweet is 140 characters, it's difficult to have an in-depth conversation that makes sense. The context can get skewed. I finally asked him to stop. Which is when he tweeted:
"Sorry. I really just want to understand your "editorial calendar."
I felt badly at that point, but Twitter wasn't the right medium to continue this discussion and my schedule was too jammed to do this then. So, I'd like to do it now.
What an editorial calendar is:
An editorial calendar is a content and interaction plan for a specific persona based on a problem-to-solution scenario across the buying process—from end-to-end.
Why marketers need an editorial calendar:
There are many reasons for needing one, as well as benefits to be had. Here are a few:
- Building a consistent and compelling story based on buying stages.
- Planning distribution and engagement opportunities to maximize the ROI achievable from your content.
- Optimizing your content development efforts based on the ability to consolidate and schedule resources more efficiently.
- Creating a big-picture view of the entire process so that you can match it up against other editorial calendars to discern overlaps and consistency of company messaging across all channels, audiences, etc.
- Shifting your mindset from short-term campaigns to ongoing publishing.
The elements of an editorial calendar include:
Note: The calendar is based on a selected persona + problem to solve.
Date for publication or re-use (obviously in chronological order)
Description of Content Asset: Title, Topic, Question answered for prospect
Call to Action – What do you want the prospect to do? (Opt in, register for a webinar, read related content, watch a related video, download a white paper, reply to the email, etc.)
Cliffhanger – In what way have you created anticipation for future engagement? (e.g., coming next month we'll share… Or, sign up for our series on X)
Buying Stage: Status Quo, Priority, Research, Options, Step Back, Validation, Choice
Format: White paper, blog post, article, video, podcast, webinar, etc.
Distribution: website, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, blog, nurture email send, syndication, etc. This will also include notes about linkages to other content on the calendar (e.g., this blog post links to registration page for that webinar)
Accompaniments: Includes messaging for related emails in the case of nurture sends, associated Tweets, landing page content for white papers, webinar invitation text and registration page content, etc.
State of Content: Complete, Under Development, Due dates, In Review, etc.
Ownership: Who's responsible for developing and delivering it.
A few other important things to note:
- Start by plugging in your existing content, as appropriate, with notes for re-purposing or refreshing. Then identify the gaps and plan how you'll fill them, given what you already have. Think consistency and story building. (i.e., if you learned this, now it makes sense for you need to know that.)
- Notice that the editorial calendar includes all publishing efforts related to this track, not just internalized nurturing streams. Prospect interaction must be considered from an overall view, not just email sends. For example, if your prospect likes the content you linked to in the email send, what else is available for them to view on your website? Start thinking about building paths that combine "private" and public content and how you can inter-relate them.
- Lead generation efforts that relate to this calendar should be included. The overall effort with an editorial calendar is to create a content bench to serve all stages and transitions during the buying process. So lead generation should continue in parallel with nurturing efforts.
- The time-line for an editorial calendar is at minimum the length of an average buying cycle. Once you have the structure established, you can continue to add or replace content, as needed, moving forward.
Much more can be said, but I hope this is enough to help B2B marketers with complex sales processes understand the concept of an editorial calendar and how it can help to drive efficiencies and consistency with the development and execution of content marketing.