Planning and strategy meetings can be full of grand plans and creative ideas, getting us pumped for the amazing content we plan to execute in the coming months. But sometimes that excitement wanes as we get swept up in the crushing inboxes and endless to-do lists that push launch dates further and further away.
It’s frustrating when content calendars go off the rails, but there are ways to keep that from happening on repeat. Content4Demand is intimately involved with managing content timelines and launch schedules for clients with even the leanest of marketing teams. We’ve learned that there are five common reasons those timelines can slip—and best practices to help keep you on track to launch content faster.
Your Messaging Is MIA
Your target buyers’ wants, needs and pain points should be the priorities in any content you create. Buyer-focused messaging helps you do that by mapping your buyer personas directly to the key messages in your content.
Messaging development may sound intimidating when you’re racing to get content out the door. You have to mine buyer insights to discover patterns and craft first-person statements that put you squarely in buyers’ shoes. But the exercise actually shaves time off the content creation process for every single asset. It lays a foundation for your campaign storyline. You’ll start the content ideation process with a list of core topics at the ready to build your campaign, streamlining the content development process and helping you dive more quickly into the actual content creation.
Your Ideation Process Needs Help
Ideation is where you develop your messaging into specific content topics for a campaign. This is when your assets begin to take shape as you come up with high-level copy and design ideas that put meat on the messaging bones. It’s important to incorporate all the key components of the messaging to make sure the final content communicates everything it should.
When you get detailed and specific in the ideation process, you’re giving your writers and designers the key information to start brainstorming themes and creative ideas that bring the messaging to life. With everyone working in sync, the content is more likely to hit the mark with their first drafts—shaving valuable time off the creation process. Get as detailed as you need to be with your ideation to make sure everyone understands the communication goals.
Your Content Activation Plan Is Murky
Content activation involves careful coordination among your teams—and it gets even trickier when you have to run content ideas through lots of stakeholders. Sales executives, product marketing, field marketing, legal and SMEs all bring different perspectives and priorities to the table. It’s crucial to map out your internal review process and get designers, coders and marketing team members on board with your plans. Once you’re ready to launch, you’ll likely be working with website, social media and PR teams to spread the word. That’s a lot of moving parts.
Each additional layer adds complexity—and potential obstacles—that can threaten your timely launch. Meticulously apping out the activation plan in advance will help you identify ownership roles and keep everyone posted about upcoming responsibilities and deadlines. Editorial calendars bring clarity to the process and give everyone a clear picture of what’s happening every step of the way. And when the inevitable timing issues arise, you’ll have room to adjust your calendar before the process gets under way (or at least soon enough to adjust the calendar).
You Need Buffers
The best-laid content activation plans align calendars and goals, and they also take surprises into account. If your campaign is tied to a product launch or a specific event, you’d be wise to work with an extended timeline to allow for unexpected delays.
Work backwards from your content launch date, and make sure you’re considering every internal deadline and project hand-off. Include realistic timing for brainstorming and design. And always build time for hiccups and missed deadlines. Someone will get sick, someone will take a vacation or attend a conference and someone will miss an email that puts them behind the eight ball. Schedule buffers will make sure you don’t miss the final, most important deadline. Be aggressive with your schedule if you need to, but don’t be unrealistic.
You're Always Starting Over
Going back to the drawing board for every piece of content is exhausting—and it’s rarely necessary. There are plenty of times you’ll be asked to scramble to fill unexpected content needs or just need to make up for lost time when you’re juggling too much. Repurposing can save your bacon.
When you turn to content that already exists in your library, you’re on the fast track to executing content that still meets your standards. Even if it isn’t plug-and-play, it’s likely that your content can be brought up to snuff with some easy updates: new data, fresh language and design components or a few campaign-specific messaging updates.
Repurposing can be particularly valuable when legal departments or C-suite stakeholders need to review your assets. Using something they’ve approved in the past means you can streamline the review process and feel more confident that you’ll get a quick thumbs up to launch content faster.
Make Your Life Simpler
Building calendars may not curl your marketing toes, but it will probably make your life much, much easier. You’ll be primed to avoid scheduling catastrophes and claw back more time to focus on creating flawless content your buyers will love. Planning ahead means you can create great campaigns—and launch content faster.
Need more help to meet those deadlines? Download our checklist, Get Scrappy: 5 Ways to Create More Content & Generate Leads.
Holly Celeste Fisk is an accomplished marketing pro with 20+ years of experience in B2B and B2C. She’s responsible for Content4Demand’s internal marketing efforts, managing everything from content creation and email marketing to events and sponsorships, blog publishing, website management and social media presence. When she’s not working, you’ll find her sliding into third at softball, buried in a book or practicing her Italian.