See the little boy at the top of this post? He didn’t turn in his assignment because he didn’t realize it was due today. And do you know why he forgot to complete his homework? That’s right! He didn’t put it on his calendar. For shame.

While little Billy is busy doing his penance, I thought I’d talk to you about how grown up Billy can avoid the same kinds of mistakes by planning out everything in advance. Let’s start with the picture. Now, everyone knows people read good content because it’s entertaining, informative or touches an emotional cord. But you know what causes them to click through to read your content? Captivating visuals and titles.

And while the author, like little Billy, used to like to fly by the seat of his pants and live off the adrenaline rush of hitting publish in a mad scramble, he’s learned that if he puts together a calendar of topics in advance, his team will be able to find 12 images he rejects and a thirteenth he loves. You see, the internet loves words like a distant relative, but throw a picture up with your Tweet, and you get engagement. Put up a video, and Facebook’s algorithm virtually bakes you a wedding cake.

The thing is, writing great content to support your brand takes methodical planning. Sitting down in front of a keyboard and thinking through how you can continue to connect with your followers and your potential audience while always reminding them of the core values which brought them to your blog or social media page in the first place. Sometimes that can happen on the spur of the moment, but more often than not the muses aren’t going to be ready to sing in perfect harmony when you snap your fingers.

Once I put all my topics together for six to eight weeks, I can view them as a whole, each post doing its bit to create and reinforce the narrative. I use Basecamp as my scheduling go-to but to each his own.

Now that calendar is your map of attack, but it’s not written in stone. You need to be flexible enough to account for current events which are always cropping up, technology breakthroughs and random breakdowns in communication which result in burning the midnight oil to meet your self-imposed deadline. And speaking of deadlines, newsrooms across the world might be in decline, but readers still expect their news regularly, whether you’re the Washington Post or Willy’s Widget Factory. If you always publish on a Tuesday, your readers will get used to reading your latest missive on a Tuesday. Skip a week without letting them know, and watch as your viewership and engagement decline. So yes, Billy, just because a deadline might be self-imposed, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take it seriously, especially if you expect your audience to take you seriously.

All too often I see companies and individual service providers blogging with great ferociousness when they launch before slowly dwindling to a crawl of irregularity before petering out entirely. You know why that happens, Billy? That’s right. Because they didn’t plan to make publishing relatable and informative content on a regular basis so when they ran out of the first layer of soil they wanted to dig up, they didn’t realize there were thousands of additional layers to uncover before reaching China on the other side of the earth. It’s sort of like watching a novelist pen his/her first novel, which is semi-autobiographical, and then not be able to take those insights beyond their inner circle to publish anything worth a damn.

Since I’m critical here, it’s a good reminder to listen to your critics because they can often give you good fodder for future content. For all of those young companies out there, the “Yay! Look at us!” strategy of content gets old quickly. You have to be willing to engage with your industry, your competitors, and even your audience. Awards from the civic club are nice to publish, but after a while, even your mom is going to get tired of your self-promotion. That’s not to say you should play down that Nobel Science Prize, but hyperbole aside, stirring up a little controversy can be an excellent way to increase readership and engagement. And while you’re at it, a little self-reflection and introspection are good things because they give your company or organization more relatability. Showing your vulnerability is showing your values, and unless you are ashamed of your values, it will help you knit a tighter community around your brand.

As I often tell clients, “You wouldn’t go to market without a business plan so why would you go into business without a marketing plan?” Content is an essential subset of marketing today both to build loyalty for your brand and to improve your SEO. Give it the forethought you give to every other part of the supply chain instead of treating it like a free page you get for having a website.

Please, listen to Billy. Make it a habit to plan your content so the habit doesn’t give you a bad rap.





CleanTech Focus