Kristina and I spent most of the Saturday before last working on our Big Picture Communications Timeline for 2016.
This is the exercise that I highly recommend nonprofits do before attempting an editorial calendar, and the same goes for consultants too! The steps are just a bit different.
For nonprofits, it starts with events and milestones both within and outside of their control, then calls to action, core topics, and story arcs. I devoted the entirety of Chapter 7 in Content Marketing for Nonprofits (Amazon) to the Big Picture Communications Timeline.
But doing it for our own company was a bit different. We let our thought leadership goals and training/mentoring programs drive the schedule. We were also explicit about both the content marketing schedule and the advertising schedules, which we had never really sketched out in this much detail before (which is why we felt like we were often working on too many different things at once this year!).
Here’s how we tackled it . .
Core Topics. I had already decided to do a series of four programs we are calling Marketing Accelerators, one per quarter, and to use those topics as guiding themes for each quarter. So we marked those out on the calendar, including when registration opened (and thus marketing began) as well as when we would be delivering the program.
Email List Building and Free Content. Next we mapped out some email list building campaigns and delivery of free content, like free webinars, leading into those Accelerators.
Pass Holder Only Benefits. Next we looked at what else we wanted to deliver in the form of training and resources to our All-Access Pass Holder Community and fit all of that into the schedule.
Other Big Milestone Dates. We added in the important dates for time-consuming projects like our Mentoring Program for Communications Directors, our Nonprofit Communications Trends Report, and when we put our Annual Pass on sale.
Identifying Gaps for Additional Speakers to Fill. With all of these key items in place on the calendar, we could now see where the gaps or slower times were, and we are working with several colleagues to fit their trainings into our schedule.
Kristina and I feel great about our 2016 plan!
How do you do long-term communications planning for your own business? If you’ve never tried it, give the Big Picture Communications Timeline a try.