Content Creation Plan: 5 tips for writing a high-quality editorial calendar

An editorial calendar is a main part of a strong content creation plan. Understanding each element will help you build a robust outline that delivers value.

To put it simply, editorial calendars are bundles of outlines that map out the content plan for customers. They come in groups of 10 and 20 topics, or outlines, each of which detail ideas for future articles. While calendars are crucial to an organized and effectual content creation plan, they do no good unless you include certain elements that enable the customer to picture the content roadmap and allow the writer to create the full article easily.
Take a look at five tips to help you produce an editorial calendar that does just that.

Understand the customer and their audience

This is perhaps the most important tip to remember: If you don’t write in the customer’s voice and for the customer’s audience, it voids the entire outline, no matter how good the content is. To help you meet this requirement, Tempesta Media provides you with the customer’s Voice Profile™ as well as any additional instructions from the customer themselves.

What to look for

With these resources, you will find information on:Details on the customer’s audience

  • Suggested topics: The customer may give you topic ideas or keyword suggestions to build the editorial calendar from. This is a good starting point to help you create outlines that both fall within the customer’s industry and appeal to the right audience.
  • Suggested word count: Sometimes customers will identify their own word counts. In other cases, you can make a word count recommendation by looking under the Content section in the Voice Profile. There, you can find the customer’s average word count range.
    • Note: The word count of the actual outline you create is 100 words per topic. The suggested word count box you fill out is for the full article you are creating the outline for.
  • Details on the customer, their company and their industry: The Voice Profile contains information on the customer’s products and services, their solution/value-add to customer, and other details about their content creation plan. Additionally, at the top of the Voice Profile, you will find the customer’s website link. Refer to this information to ensure you include topics relevant to their offerings.
  • Details on the customer’s audience: Further down in the Voice Profile, you will find an Audience section. Make sure you review this to get a feel for who the audience is, what their problems are and what information would be valuable to them. Otherwise, you could write an outline irrelevant to the readers – you don’t need to tell a medical professional audience that washing your hands is important.

Information doesn’t stop here though! If you need more details on the customer, look on their website or search online for press releases and social media posts. The more information you can gather on the customer and their audience, the stronger the editorial calendar you will write.

Research relevant industry topics and trends

valuable informationA huge part of writing for the correct audience is offering information that is relevant and valuable to them.
For example, if your information is too general or if your topic is for a beginner in the industry, an expert audience won’t learn anything from it. After identifying who you are targeting, you can move on to finding topics for the content creation plan.

Use the Voice Profile

Referring to the Voice Profile, identify the industry and industry segment the customer is in, as well as the solutions they provide.
For example, say your customer is a financial institution. What kind of finances do they handle – personal or business? If personal, what do they specialize in – mortgages/home loans, wealth planning, retirement planning, investment services?
Note: Here, remember to keep in mind the audience’s expertise. If the audience is new to retirement planning, you’ll have to explain concepts and industry jargon to introduce them to the topic.

Turn to the internet

After this preliminary research, you can move on to finding the actual topics of your editorial calendar. Here are a few tips to help:

  • Search the keywords. In the finances example, you may want to start simply by typing in common keywords of that industry and segment: Personal retirement planning, business equipment financing, etc.
  • Identify trends. Try to look at the bigger picture. Over the past decade or so, what has been the driving force for change in the industry? What are companies always trying to accomplish? What has the audience been asking for for years? In terms of finance, it may be more streamlined online banking or enhanced security.
  • Consider direct environmental influences. Currently, COVID-19 is influencing every industry in some way. This is no doubt causing changes in your customer’s business and their offerings, operations and plans. Create a topic that shows how things have changed and how the customer is adapting to resolve the issues to continue to grow.
  • Determine industry events. Similar to the above, consider changes within the customer’s specific industry, like the financial impacts of the CARES Act. Also, consider industry events – maybe there is an annual industry conference coming up or a huge security breach at a national company.

reliable resourcesChoose reliable resources

The process of choosing good topics for an editorial calendar (and content creation plan as a whole) is multi-fold. Let’s recap – you need to know:

  1. The customer and their offerings.
  2. The industry and segment the customer works within.
  3. The target audience and their pain points.

The last major consideration for a strong topic idea is the resources. Essentially, they should be:

  • Timely. The Voice Profile may specify how old the publication dates can be, but a good rule of thumb is finding sources published within the last 2-3 years.
  • Relevant. Don’t choose a source that contradicts the idea of your topic. For example, your topic may be arguing for how retirement planning will be more difficult in the future, while your source says that things will get easier.
  • Non-competitive. This step requires some scrutiny, but it is crucial. You don’t want to steer readers to your customer’s competition. Your sources can certainly be within the same industry, but make sure their offerings do not overlap with those of the customer. A safe bet would be to rely on news outlets or research firms (as long as that research was not commissioned by a competitor).

Develop strong key points and a quick introduction

For an editorial calendar, and a content creation plan in general, the more detail you include, the better. At Tempesta Media, we require outlines to include at least three key points and a quick introduction to establish the direction of the full article.
After you’ve identified your topic and resources, these steps are just a matter of summarizing the points that you want the full article to highlight. Feel free to use subpoints too.
However, when choosing main points, do not copy ideas directly from one source. That will just result in a duplicate article, provide no real value and present a potential plagiarism issue.
Besides establishing direction/focus, identifying key points is also the chance to set up the organization. How do you think this information could be best presented as a full article? Problem/solution? Chronologically?
Again, the more organized and detailed you are in this section, the more value you will present to the customer.

reasonable word countIdentify a reasonable word count, relevant keyword and strong title

These last steps are quick but nonetheless important to the comprehensiveness of the editorial calendar.

Word count

As mentioned above, the suggested word count box of our editorial calendars are for your recommended length of the full article. This is based on the topic, the details in your key points and any specifications from the customer. Be reasonable here. Answer the question, “How much space would I need to adequately address all this information?”

Keyword

Try to summarize the outline in a word or phrase. Answer the question, “What would I type in the search bar to find this full article online?” The answer will likely lead you to your keyword.

Title

Use the same tactic here as you did to identify your keyword. Summarize your outline in a few words or a longer phrase. Make sure that it is informative, accurate and catchy as well.

In summary

An editorial calendar is crucial to a successful content creation plan. Each component adds value to the outline as a whole, making it easier for customers to picture their content roadmap and for the writer to create the full article.

Need help with creating an editorial calendar?

If you have a content marketing program or are planning one, download our e-book 100 Mistakes Businesses Make When Starting, Optimizing and Scaling Content Marketing Programs.
This e-book will walk you through the mistakes of hundreds of other companies and the challenges they faced in implementing their content marketing programs. To learn more about how Tempesta Media can help you streamline your content creation process and deliver quality content at scale, contact us today.

The Value of a Lede Oriented to Your Target Audience

To maximize engagement and offer value to your audience, create a lede that speaks to their needs and reveals the topic you’re writing about.

The introduction is arguably one of the most important parts of an article. If you don’t attract the attention of your audience there, it doesn’t matter how good the body of the piece is or how outstanding the facts you present are.
And the lede is a huge part of what makes a good introduction. It’s the opening sentence of an article that summarizes the most important parts of that content. A lede needs to present value to your intended audience. Basically, it needs to tell them: Is this article going to give me the information I want?

What’s the difference between a lede and a hook?

The hook and the lede are pretty similar, and many writers use these words interchangeably. However, there is a slight difference. Which one you’ll use depends on how you want to present your article.
Hooks are often more attention-grabbing and verbose. Use these when you have more room in your introduction to set up your story, starting with a snappy fact and then funneling down to your thesis. A lede, on the other hand, is often more formal and informative. It’s succinct.
For the purposes of this article, we’ll focus on ledes.

measuring traditional media buyWhere to begin: Targeting the right audience

The first thing you need to do when crafting your lede (and your article in general) is know who your audience is. Ask yourself:

  • Is the audience B2B or B2C?
  • Are you targeting a certain gender, age or even geographic location?
  • Do you know their expertise and knowledge level in the subject you’re talking about?
  • Do you know what your audience needs and wants?
  • For what purpose are they reading your article?

The answers to these questions are then translated into how you present your information.
Additionally, you need to establish the right tone, style and voice, as well as the right depth of information and any sub-topics you want to focus on. That way, you can zone in on the most important points for your audience and offer the most value.

Crafting an appealing lede

Showing the value of your article is especially crucial when you’re writing your lede. You have to get your audience interested in what you are about to say.
But it’s really important here not to mislead them. Don’t make sweeping, dramatic claims that are irrelevant to your topic. In doing so, you’ll grab their attention for a second, but they’ll quickly leave your page when they realize the introduction has nothing to do with the rest of the content.
To avoid any misguidance and confusion, as you write the lede, ask yourself:

  • Is this first sentence hinting at anything relevant?
  • Is this first sentence about the topic that I’m writing about?
  • Would I, as a reader, be thrown off by any disconnect between the lede, the introduction and the topic of the article?

It would be helpful to think of your lede almost like a thesis statement. It highlights the argument or topic that you’re going to write about as well as the points you’ll make to provide proof or support.

ideal balanceWhat’s the ideal balance between focusing the content on your services and focusing it on the target audience’s goals?

If your goal is to educate your audience and help them solve their problems, you’ll want to focus more on your readers and their wants, needs and goals.
If your goal is to convert prospects, then you’ll want to emphasize your services and sales pitch a little more by directly mentioning your company and your products or including hyperlinks to your website.
In reference to the lede and the introduction in general, most often you’ll want to focus on the audience’s goals. At that point in their reading, your audience cares more about finding a solution to their immediate problems than learning about your offerings or how you could theoretically help them. You need to prove your knowledge and ability to help them first before you start talking about your services.

In summary

Every part of a piece of content is critical to its success.
It’s like a puzzle: If a piece is missing, it is not complete, and it doesn’t look right. When you’re putting a puzzle together, you start at the beginning. You map out what the puzzle’s picture will look like to help you get a clearer idea of where you need to go next.
The lede is the same way. It maps out the topic and hints at what you will learn if you keep reading the article. Remember that the lede is all about the audience. You have to learn their needs and wants, get their attention and provide value to motivate them to continue reading.

Need help?

If you have a content marketing program or are planning one, download our e-book 100 Mistakes Businesses Make When Starting, Optimizing and Scaling Content Marketing Programs.
This e-book will walk you through the mistakes of hundreds of other companies and the challenges they faced in implementing their content marketing programs. To learn more about how Tempesta Media can help you streamline your content creation process and deliver quality content at scale, contact us today.

Posted in Q&A

Marketing Agencies Face a Challenging Environment Heading Into 2020

Marketing agencies face a challenging environment heading into 2020. There’s the slowing economy. There’s also an increased disruption brought on by machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) and marketing automation. Because of this, agency CEOs will be under great pressure. Here are a few challenges they may see and their possible solutions:

Continued digital disintermediation is happening.

Not so long ago, agencies were content to receive a 15% commission on all media placed on behalf of customers. This approach may seem like a relic of the past for many. However, it’s still prevalent within digital marketing companies. Today, it’s still common for SEM agencies to charge their customers a percentage of paid search spend. The same goes for social media advertising agencies as well.
Big social and search media platforms are becoming more desperate to pad their revenue and profit margin growth numbers. Therefore, they are increasingly becoming agencies themselves. They may use improved tools that make advertising on their platforms even easier. For example, LinkedIn recently revamped its advertiser center to include more targeting capabilities.
The more these giants try to make it easier for advertisers to go direct, the harder it will be for marketing agencies to justify their fees.

The extinction of the account executive and account coordinator is real and accelerating.

Most agencies have a standard staff structure. The account executive manages the day-to-day relationships with the clients. This includes project and task management. On the other hand, the account supervisor manages clients at the executive level and provides marketing strategy. The account coordinator handles the marketing campaign.
If the agency is big enough, they may have one or more engineers. These people will be responsible for providing basic technical support for the implementation, management and analysis of the campaigns.
Marketing automation, AI and machine learning are progressing faster. Thus, most marketing agency CEOs will find that their staff structure is not aligned. Their engineers may not have the technical depth required to execute and manage.
Account executives and, especially, account coordinators are becoming increasingly redundant as marketing automation systems are taking control of their tasks.
Here’s an example: Without a content marketing platform like Tempesta Media, a typical account coordinator could conceive, write, edit and publish a couple of articles per week. With Tempesta Media, they can now get dozens of articles out the door weekly. This is a 10x+ improvement on return-on-time.

The disruption is not limited to content marketing.

Marketing technology automation is not limited to niche areas like content marketing. In fact, it is pervasive across all marketing channels.
Agencies can quickly perform sequential, multi-variate creative tests on their landing pages. They can use solutions like Unbounce, LeadPages and others. This cuts down setup and configuration time between tests. Additionally, the technology lets marketers optimize pages in real-time. As a result, conversion rates incrementally improve in a fraction of the time.
ID 142099641 © Dimarik16 | Dreamstime.com

Micro-influencer marketing is ripe for automation.

Influencer marketing is another example where automation is replacing the human. Without influencer automation technology, marketers have to identify, target, negotiate, traffic, measure and pay manually.
Because getting these campaigns has been so challenging and manual in nature, influencer campaigns have been limited largely to celebrity influencers.
However, with new influencer marketing technology, like Tempesta Media’s Simple Social Share™, marketers can implement influencer campaigns in minutes. This can save agencies thousands of dollars in campaign labor costs.

How do CEOs of marketing agencies need to adapt?

More means less. CEOs need to invest more in the skills and talents of their technology personnel and scale back on account coordinators and account executives. They need to do the unthinkable: Make investments in technology tools and systems.
In 2019, doing this was a perk. In 2020, it will be necessary. If marketing agencies don’t make these painful and profound changes,they are likely to:

  • Lose customers to better-performing peers.
  • Erode their margins.
  • Lose key staff.
  • Be forced to take on lower quality customers.

These are the rudiments of what efficient agencies are dropping.

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