How To Create A Content Plan Like An Editor

Sara TambascioThe lead editors here at Meister Media Worldwide have been doing for years what might be a new or challenging task for you — planning content schedules. Your role these days may include creating content for catalogs, websites, social media or other marketing.

Even though our editors are experienced at content planning, the new responsibilities of digital media have kept us on our toes. It’s a continual learning process, but here are some of the things we’ve learned about content planning since we’ve started in the online world.

Look At Your Product From Your Audience’s Perspective

Traditionally, the focus of marketing has been on the product. Over the last few years, however, good marketers have learned that customers don’t care about your company; they care about their own companies or, in our case, their garden centers and gardens. How can you help them improve? That’s the content you should be sharing. Benefits, not features.

Thinking from your reader’s perspective is the number one rule for successful content creation. What do garden centers and gardeners want to learn about right now? Some hot topics today are:

  • Urban gardening
  • Vegetable gardening
  • ndoor gardening/decorating

What can you contribute on these topics? You should also think about why people aren’t gardening and how you can turn them on to gardening. What are they doing instead? What values do they have that they don’t realize our products meet? When they Google “How can I add color to my home” or “What should I get my mom for her birthday,” how can we join that conversation?

Even more specific than what your customers are worried about, what are they worried about right now? Pest and disease pressures? The upcoming mum and kale season? Fall is for planting? Decorating for the holidays? Give them the information they want, when they want it. If it’s a must-read for right now, you’re going to get eyes on your content.

Think Back On What’s Worked

For years, we wrote articles for the magazines without much feedback from readers. Now that we have newsletters and websites that serve up metrics, we see what content you like and what you don’t. Access to metrics has raised the bar for conscientious content providers, whether that’s a traditional publishing company or a guy with a blog.

If you have Google Analytics or eNewsletter metrics, it’s time to pull them out. Sometimes with content, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Successful content could consist of doing more of what’s worked in the past and less of what hasn’t. Was an item on outdoor room ideas popular last spring? How about an “Even More Ideas For Outdoor Rooms” slideshow for this spring?

Be sure to analyze what worked about your previous successes — was it the timing, the topic or the format? It’s not always easy to determine, so you might have to experiment a little.

Think Photographs, Infographics And Visuals

Even here at the magazine, the first thought is to write an article about it, whatever the topic. We fall into what’s comfortable and familiar, but there are so many more options out there with new digital tools, and they even open up more fresh ideas in print and in-person.

Photos are a prime example. Sometimes, photos can do the job in ways that words just can’t, especially in this industry. Online slideshows are a gorgeous way to show your product because they also give the customer something that they are looking for: a moment of beauty.
Some other options include infographics, videos and GIFs.

Schedule Realistically

Think about your upcoming events and busy seasons. You’ll still want to distribute and promote content during these times, even though you may not have time to generate it. Create content during what you consider your “slower” time of the year and be ready to roll out pre-written content during the busy times.

Allow time for writing, proofing and posting. Work backwards from your deadline and allow some cushion time.

Now put your content plan on paper and set deadlines.

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