It always pays to plan ahead.

At least, that is what I’ve always thought. I am not the kind of guy that enjoys “winging it.” I like  the luxury of the stable footing and foresight that can only come with preparation and planning. And trust me, as someone who helps create content for clients, they don’t like winging it either.

That’s why content calendars are such a tremendous tool in the exciting world of content marketing (OK, maybe it’s not that exciting for everyone). What’s a content calendar you may be asking? It is a blueprint and road map for the coming year for all things content. Blogs, emails, social media, promotions, seminars, you name it.

At Roundpeg we like to work with our clients to develop a content calendar as we roll from one year into the next  and always take the time to evaluate and update the calendar as the year goes along. So, why do you need one?

The 6 P’s

One of the best pieces of advice I ever received came from my driver’s ed teacher back in high school: Proper Preparation Prevents Piss-Poor Performance. The 6 P’s, as I’ve come to call them, apply to many things, including business (and driving).

Taking the time to properly make a yearly plan for yourself lets you get a head start on crucial points in the year. Maybe you run an annual promotion or you always push or feature a particular product during a certain month.

Having and often referring to your content calendar keeps important dates and months like this in the back of your brain and keeps them from sneaking up on you. Constantly keeping them on the horizon will let you get a head start on writing social media posts, cooking up neat-o graphics, ordering any printed material or preparing updates to the website.

The alternative, of course, is letting it get too far along and then scrambling. Not ideal.

Coordination, Coordination, Coordination 

Coordinating is important (you may have already guessed). Making sure all your ducks are in a row allows you to steer clear of any off-brand messaging that can be straight up embarrassing.

A completed content calendar helps you focus on staying on track, meeting goals and staying on message. You can take the opportunity to work out messaging then and there so when it comes time to write supporting blogs, schedule social media posts and any other promotional items there is no doubt about direction.

Explore areas of need

So, you’ve identified what your focus for a certain month is, established messaging and have social media posts planned out, but what about blogs? This kind of overall evaluation can reveal the pros of expanding your content scope. Maybe this upcoming promotion would be the basis for a great blog post?

When you take the time to visualize all your areas of need, it gives you an opportunity to explore. It lets you think in the big picture and not just in the now, which can be hard to do in the fast-paced process of running a business.

One of the nice things about a content calendar? It is far from ironclad. Although ideally you want to stick as close to your pre-established calendar as possible, plans change. Business changes can force your hand into switching gears, so always leave yourself a little breathing room to make changes. As nice as it is to have structure, you don’t want to write yourself into a corner.

Need help with strategy and coordination of your content calendar? Check out our content calendar resource.