Why You Need a Content Plan

If you’ve ever wondered how some businesses coordinate their multi-channel communications so seamlessly, you can bet they have a robust content plan organized months (or years) in advance.

Maybe you’ve covered the same topic four times in the last six months, the tone of your marketing doesn’t match your brand profile, or you’re always scrambling at the last minute to find something to post on the company Twitter account. If any of this sounds familiar, it’s time to create a content plan. A content plan or content calendar can help you organize your communication strategy to optimize its efficacy and help you reach more current and potential clients. Here’s what they are, why you should have one, and how to get started.

A content plan is any resource that details what and when organizational content is being published. This can include blog updates, email blasts, ads, social media posts, planned promotions, press releases, and any other published content. It can be a spreadsheet, a calendar, or something else; every content plan should be tailored to the business using it.

Content plans help businesses stay organized, consistent, and avoid periods of activity followed by months of silence when clients don’t hear from you—or the imbalance of being extremely active and responsive on one platform while other channels of communication stay silent for months or even years. Not only that, but it provides a mile-high view of your marketing strategy and allows you to tweak what may not be working. If you’ve ever wondered how some businesses coordinate their multi-channel communications so seamlessly, you can bet they have a robust content plan organized months (or years) in advance. Sometimes they’re things you may not have noticed: maybe your YouTube video series on Financial Fundamentals isn’t getting the attention it deserves because you haven’t publicized its existence to your clients and other interested parties on other platforms, or despite your effort to diversify your topics, you’re circling around the same ten or twelve.

Though it may seem like a daunting task, there are a plethora of tools that can make what looks like mountain of work organizing the schedule of multiple communication streams into a molehill. Utilizing a template that already lays out details like publication date, content channel, topic, content, and the person responsible can help organizations get a jump start on the plan’s structure. What works for one business may not work for another, so picking the right template can be a key element in either getting employees to engage or abandoning the content calendar after three months because it’s not user-friendly.

When filling in the details, plan around important dates, key events, and seasonal business trends. If you’re publishing content on weddings, consider doing it slightly before wedding season. Getting an article on saving for college ready? That might be best planned around back-to-school or graduation. Or if you’re itching to share your top ten tips on how to ace a job interview, numbers show that January and February tend to be strong hiring months so consider publishing content aimed at applicants early in the year rather than in the summer when hiring slows down.

Additionally, planning ahead also allows content creators to claim topics in their wheelhouse and pitch ideas that you may otherwise have overlooked. If Divya knows everything about taxes while Bernard specializes in retirement planning, it makes more sense to direct these topics to their respective experts. Sharing with support staff is also a great way to find new ideas, too. Asking for suggestions eases the pressure for one person to come up with a regular rotation of new ideas and allows others to contribute a diverse range of topics, even if they’re not directly responsible for writing, and can help the right topics get assigned to the right people. That said, while the content calendar should be shared widely, that doesn’t mean that everyone should be able to edit, however.

When it comes down to it, the benefits of a content plan are innumerable; teams can work ahead, coordinate marketing strategies, and ensure that cross-platform messaging stays consistent and timely. If you don’t have a content plan in motion today, do yourself a favor and get one started.

These articles are prepared for general purposes and are not intended to provide advice or encourage specific behavior. Before taking any action, Advisors and Plan Sponsors should consult with their compliance, finance and legal teams.

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