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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

Getting Well

What does getting well have to do with launching an on core venture?  Everything.

In the second half of life, the behavior patterns we established in the first half start shouting at us. This takes form in issues such as Diabetes, Cancer, Heart Disease, Obesity, Depression, Boredom, Fatigue, and so on.

We believe that the first step in defining your second half of life vision involves getting into the best physical and mental shape possible.  This allows for the energy and clear focus needed in order to determine how you can – as they say in the Army- be all you can be, or as we say – become oncore. If you are beginning to suffer from the effects of the above list, you must learn to get well, not just rely on dealing with it through coping patterns, but get truly well.

Our approach to helping clients figure out what they need to do begins with an assessment tool. This tool allows us to point out examples of what one of our clients calls “Stinkin’ Thinkin’.”  From there, we use a combination of techniques that allow you to come up with your own path to wellness.  We also have a partner network of people we trust that can help you in areas where you might be stuck.

Coaching is not therapy. We do not care where you got your Stinkin’ Thinkin’ patterns. We care about getting you past it so that success becomes attainable. As I listened yesterday to young parents at the children’s museum in Pittsburgh, their advice to their kids to be careful and not to wander away or talk to strangers is not designed to make them afraid of networking in twenty years, or even to go to parties.  It is designed to stop their children from getting hit by a car or keep them away from shady looking characters that might be out to hurt them. This is common sense 101, yet many people have twisted the well intentioned lessons of childhood into the limiting barriers of adulthood So, if you are still blaming Mommy for your thinking patterns, please see a therapist. If however, you are ready to move past your limiting patterns and beliefs; then coaching holds up a mirror to help you understand these thought patterns, teaches you how to improve them and raise your energy levels.

What is important now is what you do with the thought processes that no longer serve who you are today or who you wish to become. Stop stuffing food or alcohol into your body, stop leaching energy into other various control dramas, all because you feel badly from fear and other energy drains.

There are many ways to get well.  Eat real food – not stuff in boxes and cans, exercise appropriately, meditate, practice yoga, get a physical from your doctor, use well sourced nutritional supplements to help alleviate diet deficiencies,  get your spine into proper alignment with chiropractic care, have massages to release toxins from your muscles, drink adequate amounts of water, get enough sleep and create work life balance. The list goes on and can sometimes be daunting; remember that we are here to help you navigate a true path to wellness.

For the next few weeks, we will feature a practitioner in each of these areas as an example of where to go to get information on any of these specific components of getting well.  And if you suddenly realize looking at the list that you have no idea of how to do any of those things, please reach out to us for a free session to get started.

Referral Marketing

When I first started networking for my new business I was clueless. Needless to say, this grated on my nerves as it clashes with my mask of being an expert. So, I set out to rectify the situation in short order.  I started talking to experts about establishing networks which would help promote my business. One said that I needed to have a variety of gimmicks to push my offering.  He suggested that I go to many different BNI chapters as a guest and recruit them into a mastermind group.  Anyone in or associated with BNI, the world’s largest referral marketing organization,  would cringe at this type of suggestion.  Others talked about going to meet-up groups and chamber meetings and collecting business cards as I practiced my elevator pitch about coaching to each of them.

These ideas and several others that I won’t waste space on here are utterly worthless in my mind.  I ended up hiring a coach who is expert in building referral marketing networks.  I did this because I wanted time compression and I trusted her approach.  Interestingly enough, she was speaking at a PCA (Pittsburgh Coaches Association) lunch meeting on networking. This, in effect, means she was doing exactly what my first example suggested in terms of allowing someone to kick the tires through my mastermind group. At least however she was not subverting the BNI meeting process to get clients.

Building a referral marketing network takes time and I believe it should be integrated into your social media and Internet marketing campaigns and work collaboratively with your overall strategy.  In my last two blog entries, I have talked about how those two activities can work.  They work really well with building a referral network.

In his book about building referral networks, Ivan Misner the founder of BNI, describes a copy written process for building a referral network.  As a member and leader in my BNI chapter, I encourage you to read the book and follow his advice. The key thing to consider is getting your core referral network to understand what your new business is all about. You must be able to describe it to others and to get those folks to “sell” you to others simply because they know, like and trust you.

I am sure that you, like me, have hundreds of people you are connected with on Facebook, Linked in, and other social media networks. Plus you have the ability to build pages to your company on Linked in and on Facebook, as I have done.  But the point here is twofold; these connections can be a good picture of your different type of networks (i.e. your information network, support network and referral network).  Knowing which of your hundreds of partners fit into your key stakeholder groups in each type of network is key.

For example, you can use Linked in to put together mailing lists of your different types of partners.  So, if you have twenty to thirty key referral partners and perhaps five or so core network partners who you work closely with (because their clients are also your target market), you can easily keep them informed of your new offerings, enabling them to better “sell you” to those clients.

Why would they help you by doing this? Very simply, because it gives them an excuse to talk more with their clients. This is an opportunity to discuss what is going on in that client’s life, what their concerns or frustrations are, and what they’ve been up to lately. This conversation oftentimes turns into a new business opportunity for your referral partners making it a win-win situation they will be happy to repeat.

The best referral relationships are the partners that are needed all of the time by your clients.  For example, I help people create new business ventures.  They all need to build referral networks, they all need Internet marketing, and they can benefit from social media, printing services, direct mail, and accounting or banking services. So, my referral network includes offerings that all of my clients will need as they grow their business.  And each of them provide something that either I can’t or don’t wish to provide myself. As such, they become natural extensions to my offering.

Some referral partners can be very aligned with what we do.  For example, let’s say that a potential client of mine is operating a business that she wants to get back onCORE to what she envisioned when starting the company.  We look at her financials over the last three years and build a model of where her business is going.  We look at seven key numbers for how her business is functioning and determine that she needs more leads coming into to remain viable.  As she works on strategies to improve her business, she will most likely benefit from the expertise of a marketing company. I work as her coach and advisor, but the marketing firm can help increase her leads. Taking this example one step further, I have several referral partners within my network that provide marketing services. My client has the option to choose one of those services that I can recommend or do the research on her own to make the most informed decision that is best for her business.

In another example, the same client might be working first with the marketing company who does not have the toolkit to do what I can do with her financials and her desire to get back onCORE with her beliefs. They are stuck in the sales process and not sure where to go next. The marketing company, as a referral partner of mine, might suggest that the client work with me to figure out how to pay for and track programs such as what they are offering to her business?

Business gets done by referral more often than not. If you are new to creating a business yourself and new to marketing it through referral networking, Dr. Misner’s 2012 book The worlds best known marketing secret (co-authored with Mike Macedonio, Julien Sharp and Jeff Morris) is a good first resource, particularly the section on building your referral network. If you’re ready to take the next step and need more information, contact us to learn more about how you can start building your social-business-referral network. If you are interested in an awesome coach who can help you build your referral network let me know and I will introduce you to her.

Thinking from the End

It might seem counter-intuitive, but when creating a start-up it is important to ask – what is my exit strategy?  Why?  Because without an exit strategy it is easy to never build value into your business venture.  Many people running small businesses complain that they wake up in the morning realizing that they are working for a tyrant – themselves.

Having an exit strategy allows the small business owner to always be aware of the value of his or her business.  It turns the business into an asset – making it possible to sell the business in the future.  This is especially true for Encore Entrepreneurs – who will want to sell their business when they finally are ready for the fourth stage of life – probably in their eighties as they finally “kick back” and relax and reprocess their long and fulfilling life as they prepare for their final transition.  Without this exit strategy planned into their business planning from the start – a late life business owner could really feel trapped in their business and regret their decision to start it as they toil day after day.

At onCOREventures in our Authentic Launch Process we validate business approaches at the first step of planning them. We work with our cleints to build in the exit from the beginning.  To do this, our Validation phase starts with Backroom Management Services “8 P’s” process in which we look at Purpose, Product, Price, Place, Promotion, Production, People and Profit. We then look at the underlying product assumptions and they are expanded into a fully operating company model including the definition of an exit plan for the business – how is value built with this venture launch?

We build this model from the assumptions on how the business will operate BEFORE we create all of the detailed business plans, launch plans and product creation steps.  Having this baseline look at how the business will function in terms that new business owners can understand allows us to alway come back to this baseline as we learn more and more about the business as we continue with the validation phase of our program.

However you decide to launch your afternoon of life business – make sure you know how you are getting out of it.  For a complimentary call to review your business ideas please contact me.