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The #1 Best Way to Improve Your Content Next Year

As we head towards the close of the season, we are working hard to put the polishing touches on our business goals, priorities, and deliverables for the coming year.  Some call it creating New Years resolutions; some call it setting intentions (more on that next week!), while some simply call it smart business practice.

Whatever you call it, planning is essential.  And when it comes to the content you will share with your tribe next year – failing to plan is planning to fail.

So you know you need a plan. And you may have even heard about this fancy thing called an editorial calendar. But what is that really? And how do you create one? Where do you start?

First things first:

What is an editorial calendar – and more importantly – why should you care?

A content or editorial calendar is a simple tool used to organize content, article placement, due dates, and author responsibilities. It can be as simple or robust as you need. You might have just one master calendar or separate calendars for each information stream.

Content planning allows you to:

  • Plan ahead
  • Avoid last-minute content disasters
  • Generate fresh and winning ideas
  • Increase your content quality
  • Target audiences more effectively
  • Significantly ramp up your ability to promote new offerings

Ok – I get it! I want to create my plan to deliver awesome, relevant content! Now what?

Here’s where we get down to details.

The best way to begin is to think about your business goals over the coming year. Do you have new programs you are planning to offer? Are you trying to grow a particular sector of your market or reach a new audience? Do you have new products coming out that you’ll need to promote. Make a list of all of those things first.

Now think about the things you wanted to talk about this year but never found the time, or didn’t have the right research, or felt like maybe there was not enough information to share. Add those to your list.

Finally, engage in some friendly competitive research. I’m not talking about espionage here – just take some time to do a little reconnaissance. See what folks who offer similar products and services have been up to. See what they are highlighting, promoting, and talking about. Now think about how you can bring more value to those conversations for your audience. How can you inject your unique insight, perspective, and ideas into the areas that matter most to your existing and prospective clients?

You should have a pretty long list of potential ideas at this point. Read over it and start to notice any overarching categories or content buckets.

Is there a big chunk of ideas that focuses on one particular service you offer? Maybe that could be a series of blog posts that really dives into the nitty-gritty details.

Are there a bunch of outlier topics that don’t really jive with the rest of the material? Don’t sweat it – just make a catch-all category and worry about those pesky items later.

Once you have categories defined along with a list of potential topics for each – take a few minutes to jot down the main points of each idea. This will help you quickly determine if there is enough material for a full fledged blog post or if the content is more concentrated in nature – and therefore better suited to a Facebook or Twitter delivery.

Jot down any ideas on potential images that would complement your text. Maybe a few thoughts on a possible Pinterest Board or Instagram upload.  Make those delivery notes for each item so that you have a guide for how you want to distribute the content – don’t worry you can always tweak it later.

Now comes the fun part – promise.

You have just created all the material you need for a successful content plan for the coming year. All you need to do now is plug it into the calendar and file it away for next year. Right?

Well – kind of.  Yes you do need to plug all of these wonderful ideas into a calendar but there are just a few more things to cover.

Timing is an important consideration. Do you want to do one blog post a week? Two maybe? Do you want to be sure to engage with your audience daily on Facebook? Do you want to grow your Instagram following this year? These are all important business and content delivery decisions that will affect your final editorial calendar layout.

Assuming you have these timing goals firmly decided upon and top of mind – go ahead and plug in your content ideas with notes on delivery into your editorial calendar. This can be a simple excel spreadsheet with a list of dates or a more fancy document with national and “novelty” holidays already notated.

You can use holidays as entry points for engagement. For example – a restaurant owner or food manufacturer might leverage novelty holidays such as National Pizza Day to offer discounts or free with purchase coupons. A clothing or gift store could offer a free ice cream cone on National Ice Cream day. You can also provide content like top ten lists for local or industry related items that will be useful to your audience. You can download a sample calendar idea for January 1 and a list of interesting “holidays” by clicking here.

A word on change

Remember that this is your plan – which means –you can change things when necessary. Is it going to be an extra month before that new program is ready? No problem- just shift your promotional content timeline out a bit and pull in some of the less time sensitive, but still useful, content to fill the gap. Read an awesome article during your morning blog review session that you just have to share with your tribe? No problem – shift your scheduled Facebook posting to a later date and drop in that great new content you just found.

The goal here is to have a plan – not necessarily to so rigidly stick to that plan that you miss out on great opportunities to share knowledge or promote your business. That’s just self-defeating in the end.

Get Going!

Armed with this new knowledge – go out and create your master content plan for next year’s engagement. While you are it – set some goals for leveraging social media; be it a new platform for your business or simply penetrating further to grow your tribe. And remember – we are here to help if you get stuck or need some help with implementing all of those great content ideas.

How about you?

What are your content goals for next year? Have you used an editorial calendar in the past? How do you plan for audience growth success?

 

Image Credits: Shutterstock

Multi Level Marketing

Multi-level Marketing as an onCOREventure

Lately, I have begun to work more closely with Multi-Level marketing (MLM) people through my membership in BNI. I have to admit, I have previously held a negative bias about MLM.  This perspective is rooted in an experience with one MLM in particular which directly affected a friendship. These friends unfortunately “drank the Kool Aide” and started pushing their conversion story to how they, and of course we by extension, could become wealthy beyond belief. At the time, I attributed this change in demeanor to the MLM scheme, but I’ve come to realize that it was my friend’s specific behavior to which I was reacting, not the MLM theory in general. Understanding this difference has removed the bad taste I once held for what can be a very profitable business tool.

For people in the second half of life, who are looking for an interesting way to spend their time and are passionate about something that could be woven into an MLM business, this type of structure is ideal. Many folks are often already set up for success in these types of ventures as they typically already have a network of friends and business associates from which to draw participation. Additionally, this network often shares similar core values and interests that play well with the MLM company marketing strategy for the products in which they are interested., If this sounds like you – then a company built around MLM is well worth considering.

Recently I watched a video in which the distributor of an MLM’s products discussed how people working for corporations are in fact working in a pyramid scheme. If that is true – why do so many people downplay the opportunities for success in the MLM world as nothing more than a pyramid scheme? I think the answer is simple. They have bought into the “American Dream” of working for forty hours a week for forty years in the hopes that this will allow them to retire comfortably at a reasonable age.  The unfortunate truth, which most of us who are well into the second half of life already know, is that the American Dream is really the American Nightmare. Retirement is simply no longer a safe bet for most people in their forties and fifties.

As indicated in my last blog, I have been working my way through a period of reflection and intense business delivery focus over the last six months, and now am operating in a more focused way on my original goals.  I strive to help people create the life that they were born to live, in the second half of life. My philosophy is counter-cultural to the American dream of retirement as being focused on recreation, travel, intrusion into adult children’s lives, and perhaps a part time retirement job befitting of the slow moving, overweight image of the typical American.

My view of retirement rather is one of moving away from the corporate world with its endless struggle to fit in to the mold of the company by keeping your head down and your mouth shut. I believe we need to “fit out” (be individuals-not drones) by keeping our heads up and truly listening to what other people need …and by trying to help them if we can.  I believe that our network of friends and family is the real measure of our net worth. We need the support of others, and the best way of getting to this is by investing in relationships before you need to cash them in.

So, if you are interested in promoting things like weight loss challenges and products that provide alternative paths to healing and beauty, such as natural cosmetics, or if you are drawn to nutrition products or handmade jewelry, etc., there are many MLM companies out there. If you are passionate about one, or more, of them, check them out. There is a list on Wikipedia that can get you started.

As a member in a BNI chapter and a professional coach, I work with many people in MLM. I’ve learned that there are different personas and core values that are very successful with the structure and processes for each company. If you wonder whether you have the core values and skills necessary to be successful in an MLM environment, we offer an assessment which will help you understand how you personally would do best in approaching a network marketing system in order to be successful. Check out your results here.

Leveraging these results, we will then have a short conversation which will give you either the confidence to go forward with a network marketing company, or perhaps the incentive to look at something else. I have found that the core energies you use to figure out if something is a good fit are often times the exact energies that stop you from implementing the processes that the MLM company wants you to pursue in order to be successful. This can be tricky to navigate and we are here to help you with this process.

Multi-Level Marketing is not for everyone, but many people earn thousands of dollars a month in this fashion. Many more, unfortunately, earn nothing. Understanding what you want, and at your core who you are, can make the all the difference.
How about you?  Are you interested in Multi-Level Marketing? Do you feel your interests, core values, and capabilities are in line with MLM principles? We’d love to hear your MLM story or work with you to take the next step in discovering your path to success in the second half of life.

Time Management – Calendars for your ventures

Whether it’s for a business or our personal lives, we can hardly get through a day without checking our calendars. Time is money and time management is critical. We buy calendars with beautiful pictures representing each month, or we keep ourselves virtual with the use of calendar applications on our phones and computers. Calendars are so vital that Mac products are automatically equipped with this calendar app. The fact is, absolutely no one can run a business without a good calendar management system. As of late, we have been frustrated with synchronization between iOS and our Mac and Windows computers. Last week, we talked briefly about the use of back office, cloud-based tools, and how to set-up email and a quick website in the weeks before that.  We will return to the back office tools after we evaluate PayPals solutions entirely.  This week we are talking about calendars, and because there is a wealth of information on the Internet, we are not reinventing the wheel. Rather, we are pointing to a site that we found through a great resource for people launching an onCOREventure – Open Forum from American Express.

In fact, this resource is so cool that over the last twenty-four hours using very little effort, we moved our primary calendar to Google Calendar, and found an online sign-up mechanism for both clients and potential clients to sign up for sessions through our website that we have begun testing. We expect this tool to eliminate the use of coaches console for our practice and allow clients to manage their own calendars with our practice.  Note: In fact by the end of the next day we had the feature live on our website, fully integrated into our production calendar system.

Since we use iOS devices and not Android, we like the idea of apps that live on the device.  That being said, even tough the Apple-supplied apps for Calendar and Contacts are subpar, we were pleased to see that there are a variety of calendar apps available for iOS, and I had one up and running in five minutes. We use CalenMob and opted for the paid version for increased functionality. Since I already migrated my iCal information to Google, I did not grant the app access. Frankly, with this app and with Google calendar, there is fortunately no reason for me to use Apple’s calendar.

On a roll, we experimented with another app – Contacts Sync.  One of Apple’s dirty little secrets is that contacts disappear, are doubled, tripled and in once case multiplied by ten.  Phone numbers go away.  It was so easy to get my calendar into Google, I figured why not get my contacts into Google, and this little tool had them synchronized in five minutes.  Now the cool thing is that Google seems to be pretty good at not actually losing information on my contacts – and with this tool, I can always overwrite the Apple contacts with Google’s. I was also easily able to delete the duplicates in my Apple contacts using the tool, something that I can never seem to remember how to do on my Mac.

The more we use Google’s cloud services, the more we like them.  and with apps on iOS and things like open-source tools on cross platform PC’s Linux and Mac environments, life seems to be getting easier and more affordable for new ventures to get their technology in place.

 

Web Environment – your website

Last week, we talked about setting up email. Conventional wisdom in the Internet age is that you need a website to drive your business. What we have found is actually the contrary; a website can actually put a halt on your business’s growth. We’ve all Googled ourselves out of curiosity, but what about after you meet someone at a networking event, or exchange emails? You can guarantee your new acquaintance has Googled you as well. If you have no website, they will only find your LinkedIn profile and other references that you probably do not have any control over.

We work mostly with solopreuneurs in our practice, and most people that start businesses are in that category at least in the beginning. The first thing that solopreuneurs need to remember is that you are now “the brand” or “product”. Not what you sell, but you. When Tiger Woods turned pro, his father Earle told him that he was a product now, something that Tiger and folks like A-Rod have learned the hard way.  Keep that in mind when you are considering ranting on Facebook.

So before you even start to craft your website, it is useful to complete a personal branding exercise. We start our clients with this, and then follow that up with a core values index. Our image and our core values are both vital in setting our personal brand.

For example, green is a color that we have used initially for onCOREventures. Green is the color of the heart chakra, the fourth and most core of the chakras. It is the color of sustainability and the color of “start” or “go.” Thus, green is core to our business, because these items are core to us. We have used and will continue to use my photography as the promotion of our site, because vision is important to our clients, and my vision is often expressed in my imagery. I augment this however with viable stock photography that conveys the messages.

When I started my coaching practice, I did not have the name chosen so I simply set up frederickgeiger.com and put up a four-page site. Home, what I do, who I am, and a blog.  That way, anyone that looked for information about me would find that site.  I went into a 1:1 networking meeting only to find someone looking at my photography site at fredgeiger.com.

For my coaching practice, I had a colleague build a quick site in Dreamweaver, which was overkill, but I already had a hosting contract in place, and I knew how to setup a website myself. Since I already had set up a WordPress site for our church, adding the blog was trivial – for me.

If you have nothing of the sort in place, and if you already completed what we talked about last week, and used Google to set up your email, then it is a simple process to launch your website on Google as well..

From the sites section of Google, first choose “Create a Site.” You can then see that there are a variety of templates that can be used, and you can work on your site before it is published and made public. Once you are satisfied with it, you can then point your domain name to it. If that is your personal name, you can always redirect people to your new site, or not. Currently, I still have my old personal photography site active at fredgeiger.com, and I have redirected frederickgeiger.com to my current site.

There are many other ways of setting up a site, some very affordable and some very costly. But if you are hanging out your shingle and do not have a live website, do not be surprised if you are not always taken seriously.

You can also create other sites to experiment with different ideas – or use as a private intranet for your associates or contractors as you grow your company. Tools such as Google Drive make it easy to store files and access them online from any web browser.

The most difficult part of any process is setting yourself in motion. Do not let the fear of taking that first plunge stop you from having your own site. Setting up your own site that emits your core message to potential clients is a quick, very uncomplicated task. This also means that you don’t have to empty your wallet on creating a website for a business that does not have a definite direction yet. The one thing that I have learned in my many years of working with startups of all sizes is that the worst decision is actually the decision not made. Make decisions that complement your core values, and then take action. Ready, set, go.