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The key to producing a continuous and consistent pipeline of content is to properly balance keeping things simple yet intentional.

Unfortunately, most often I see the opposite happen. Companies have overly complex plans, yet haphazard execution of individual content pieces.

So, how can you produce a continuous and consistent pipeline of content by balancing keeping simplicity with intentionality?

In the third post of this series, How to Take a Goal-Oriented Approach to Creating Content, I discussed that the next step to meeting your content needs was to be intentional about the content you are creating. This means having the purpose, goal, medium, core messaging and channel in mind throughout the content production cycle. In this post I explained the difference between purpose and goal. The purpose is to ensure that you understand at the highest level why you are creating this content, whereas the goal is more specific.

In the fourth post I dove more deeply into determining the goal of your content and how that impacts your rhythm and intention, both from an overarching marketing perspective and an individual content piece prospective.

In this post I want to share a simple approach to planning out your content horizon that will save you a lot of time. The first step to creating your content horizon is to designate quarterly and monthly themes. By having a quarterly and monthly theme, you can align all of your content, campaigns and promotions around a consistent message. From your customer’s perspective, there will be a consistent experience across your social media presence, blog, webinars and so forth. From a goal perspective, you should get more people signing up for your content if everything is aligned.

Imagine—an industry thought leader retweets one of your messages that then catches the attention of an ideal prospect. That ideal prospect checks out your Twitter feed and sees a blog post related to the topic of the original retweet from the industry thought leader. The ideal prospect reads the blog post and comes to the end where there is a call to action for a webinar on the same topic. The ideal prospect signs up for the webinar. Inside sales follows up with the prospect using a special script on the theme topic of the month.

Hopefully, you see how powerful designating a theme can be, as well as how easy it is to do. There is no complex methodology or tools needed; you simply say this month’s theme is ABC. Actually, there is a little bit more to it than that, but don’t worry; this is where the time savings comes in. Let me explain by providing an example.

I was recently working with a startup that sells software for call centers and we were planning out its content plan for the upcoming year. We did this by first choosing the first two quarters’ goals. Those themes were Agent Engagement and Workforce Efficiency, two hot topics in the call center industry. It is helpful to choose the theme one quarter out, because you can align things like webinars for which the speakers may be booked months in advance.

We then broke up the first quarter into supporting monthly themes—Attrition, Coaching and Employee Experience. Again, these themes were typically dictated by the speaker for that month’s webinar. This isn’t a requirement for everyone, but as is the case for many B2B companies, webinars were the best-producing campaign at this startup, so we choose to build around them.

Our intention was to have two major pieces of content each month—a webinar and a guide. Then, at the end of the quarter, we would combine the three guides into what we called an Ultimate Guide. The idea is that each month we were creating one chapter of the quarterly guide. It is unlikely that the majority of people would download all three guides, so there was still value in combining them and promoting them as a single ultimate guide.

The fun doesn’t stop there, because we also aligned our blogs to the theme as well. I have already shared how aligning your social media and blogs can get more people to sign up for your webinars and bigger content pieces, but it can also save you a lot of time. Just as you are using the monthly guides to create chapters for the quarterly guides, you can use that month’s blogs to create the monthly guide. All you have to do is create an outline and break it up into stand-alone sections.

One other nuance to the planning is to keep it very Lean and Agile. This will keep you from becoming paralyzed by over-planning. You should have the next month well planned. Know what webinar, guide and blogs you are creating. Have a plan for how they will be integrated to promote one another. The month after next, you should have the topic and webinar speaker lined up, but not much more. This will allow you to adjust as needed and keep things as simple as possible.

So, basically all we are doing is blogging on a regular basis with a little bit of intention around the theme and we are getting some major content pieces that will produce a lot of leads. I hope this has inspired you to take a few minutes to plan out a few months’ worth of themes.

What are some other ways you are planning out your content?

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