If you haven’t looked at a calendar recently, let me be the bearer of some shocking news: This year is more than half over. And if you’re like a lot of marketers or bloggers, you have fallen behind where you thought you’d be. Maybe you’ve stopped following your content plan. Heck, maybe you never had one in the first place, and you’re simultaneously creating the plan and executing it.
Don’t worry — I’m not judging. We ALL do it.
But here’s the thing. You don’t have to resolve yourself to spinning your wheels playing catch-up forever and ever. In fact, this is a great time to push the pause button and ask yourself where your time is best spent.
Let’s start thinking about sailing and tackling big waves in 2018 instead of treading water (or nearly drowning) in 2017. Wait a minute, you say — you can’t just stop producing content for the year. Of course not. I get that. But you can revisit your plan and be smart and strategic and realistic (this is key) about what you set out to accomplish between now and Dec. 31. You can talk to management about pulling back to the essentials for Q4 so that you and your team can spend more of your time gearing up for next year.
Here are a few things to think about as you consider whether (and when) to shift gears to thinking about your 2018 content plan.
Planning is power.
When you don’t have to interrupt your workflow to brainstorm ideas or figure out how to align your content strategy with your marketing goals, you can be focused on content creation.
Give yourself time to gain buy-in upfront.
Tired of piecemeal approval processes or having to get your concepts signed off on every time you go to write a blog post? Of course you are. A comprehensive plan lets you streamline approvals one month, one quarter or even a year in advance.
Have more fun.
Once the plan is set, you get to start having fun with your writing and design and video and more.
When you have a plan, you are able to more adequately think strategically about how to re-purpose pieces of content so that you can use your budget wisely. Wouldn’t it be awesome to actually try to do that next year?
Communicate throughout the organization.
A content plan is a communication tool in itself. It allows your marketing team to get aligned and is a way to share information with other teams (like sales) as well.
Show your boss you rock.
Look, impressing your boss and executive team shouldn’t be the only reason to do something. But it’s a pretty awesome side benefit. (Am I right?) A plan shows your leadership that you are thinking ahead. You aren’t just posting blogs on a whim. You have a strategy.
I know what you’re thinking. You believe in planning — you really do. But you seriously can’t jump ship on 2017. And I agree; you can’t do that. But what you can do is start to think about 2018. You can start to set the gears in motion … start with casual lunches with key stakeholders. Gather numbers. Schedule team meetings and brainstorms from now through October with plans to hammer out your plan in November and get approvals in December. You also can think long and hard about what you actually must accomplish this year to achieve key goals.
How you tackle your content plan will depend on various things — the size of your organization and your team, your budget, internal processes and politics, and more. And hey, maybe you have a well-oiled machine with an annual process for brainstorming, planning, strategy and approvals. (In which case, let’s talk. I’d love to hear how you’ve made it happen.)
But if you’re one of those trying to do more with less and tired of spinning your wheels, I suggest switching gears to 2018 after Oct. 1. And while that feels like forever from now, it’s not. Now is the time to start thinking about how you want to plan, preparing your leadership and getting your team on board.
Because while we all fall behind, we don’t have to. We can try new approaches. And we can try them now.