Content Planning 101: Making the Grade

Report Card 

You set goals and decided on messaging when you started your eMarketing initiatives. Perhaps you were trying to drive sales, or cultivate a stronger relationship with your client base. Well, now it’s halfway through the year – time to give yourself a report card.

Are you scrambling to gather content hours before deadline? Have your email blasts descended into a hodgepodge of advertisements with no focal point? Did your informational newsletter go from the “white paper standard” to an insincere sale pitch that irritates your once loyal customers?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above, it’s time to refocus. Here’s your homework.

It’s all in the Plan

As the owner of your eMarketing program, you need to establish a plan and stick to it. If your vision is to have a clean, streamlined newsletter with a clear call to action, you’re going to have to be tough. Sometimes you’ll have to bang down doors to get the content you need; other times, you’ll have to say “no” to avoid cluttering up your communications with too many messages. The following four rules will help you get top marks.

1. Establish your Calendar

You only have so much real estate across your eMarketing program, which should contain a mix of sales-oriented and value-added content. Establish a calendar that looks at least 6 months ahead, and slot in each department’s big announcements. This can help you develop a theme for each newsletter, making the job of creating the value-added content much easier.

2. Keep Ahead of the Market

Assume your competitors have their act together. If you do seasonal marketing, with a big push around holidays, tax time, etc., give yourself plenty of buffer time. Your message should be locked and loaded so you get out ahead of your competition, and your customers have time to react to your offer. For extremely time-sensitive materials, add a few extra days to prepare for any unforeseen problems with technology, internal approvals, and so on.

3. Leverage your Team

The farther in advance you plan, the more opportunity to collaborate with other teams and piggy-back on other initiatives. Hold a quarterly brainstorming session to uncover these synergies, or if your team is geographically dispersed, use online collaboration tools like MediaWiki, GoogleDocs or Ning to share ideas. 

4. Schedule the Time

Successful campaigns are thought-out and focused, not put together on the 30th of the month just to get “something” out there. The reality is, many of us never get anything done at the office unless time is blocked off on the calendar. So right now: open your calendar and block off a few hours a week. Dedicate them to planning and writing your monthly newsletter, then watch the quality – and results – improve dramatically.

Follow the tips above and your next report card will read “Much Improved”.
Need some inspiration? Check out some examples of A+ newsletters:

Creative Access, Inc.: “Creative Access Connection
Desir Group Executive Search: “DSpotlight

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