Consistency is a word that is frequently heard in the marketing and advertising world. Do you know what you’re blogging, sharing, and posting this Wednesday? Or the Wednesday after that? What about Wednesday next week, next month, or next year? Can you say with certainty that you know what you’re posting weeks, months, and maybe even years in advance? Though it is not totally common for you to plan out years in advance, it is something that is possible through content calendars. Just the same as you enter appointments or meetings on your personal calendars, it is the same with content calendars. The only difference between your personal calendar and a content calendar is quite literally only the content.
Just like any other business, a dealership nowadays has social media accounts, blogs, and more. It can be hard to keep up with everything you’re posting, even with a dedicated team. Some routine things are likely to be forgotten amidst all the new photos and updates being posted online. A content calendar allows your marketing department to know exactly what needs to be posted and when. This technique also allows you to have some sort of structure to your posts rather than just posting anything at any time.
Behind content calendars are a few psychological theories that make calendars attractive and effective. The first theory states that calendars act like mental models to help us to comprehend something hard, which is explained as to why we find work to be more manageable once it’s on a calendar. The second theory states that a simple calendar lowers the apparent difficulty of the task at hand.
How Can It Improve Our Content Creation?
There might still be some that are wary about content calendars and the supposed extra work that they might bring to try and keep them up to date. Though there are tons of benefits that they bring, we’re going to highlight the biggest six that we can think of.
- Prep Time
It allows you to have plenty of preparation time to get the content finalized before publishing. Content calendars will allow you to prepare the content well in advance which also allows you to produce a consistent flow of content.
- Capture A Birds Eye View
These calendars allow you to gain a new perspective in the way you view your content as well as how you think about it. With a calendar, you can examine your blog posts, shares, and updates from a view that enables you to see the bigger picture. Without a calendar, you’re likely to get lost in all the minuscule details of creating and posting content regularly.
- Plan Around Key Launches, Dates, and Events
Have you ever completely forgotten about an upcoming event? Well, that fear is eliminated with a content calendar as you see everything that is coming up in the next week, month, and possibly even year. By adding all important launches, dates, and events onto your calendar when it is created, it allows you to build your content around those specific dates.
- Harder To Forget Written Things
Time is valuable for any business, but especially dealerships. You want to get as many cars sold as is realistically possible. So, you intend to post regularly and even send out newsletters to your customers. A content calendar allows you to physically or digitally write down everything that needs to be posted online and when. It creates a solid plan that forces you to follow it, therefore following a more cohesive theme on all your media platforms.
- Organized Team
Having a content calendar enables you to keep you and your team on the same page at all times. With shared access to your content calendar, it avoids the risk of posting something twice, missing an event, or not addressing a new release because something else was planned.
- Create One Voice
By creating a clear voice, you are not only helping to define your dealership, but also creating memorable content. This can be done in various ways, including consistently using the same photo styles, fonts, and colors.
What Should You Include?
There is no wrong way to create a content calendar. It all depends on the content that your dealership posts as well as the platforms that you are active on. Each company is different, so there isn’t a singular way in which you should go about content calendars.
Similar to any other planning event, the first step of creating your content calendar should be to list the content that you wish to include on your content calendar. This could be anything, such as:
- Seasonal content
- Industry events
- Product launches
- Company announcements and news
- Case studies
- Recurring themes, series, or posts
- Social media updates
- Regular blog posts
You can also choose to customize your calendar further by adding additional information besides each item. If you choose to do a spreadsheet style calendar, this data will often appear on the columns beside it. Some categories might be:
- Client graphics / testimonials
- Possible whitepapers
- Embed other publications
- Supporting media
- Primary keywords
- Draft due date
- Purchase cycle
- Target audiences (tertiary, secondary and primary)
- Social media update copies
- Blog post titles
How Can You Get Started?
Getting started on a content calendar is actually not too hard. There are plenty of online templates or programs that easily allow you to create a calendar, with some being paid and others free. For starters, it’s recommended that you try something clear and simple to get you and your team used to using and referring to a content calendar. You can even create a calendar yourself by using a similar structure to those that you find online, but using categories that work best for your dealership. Start off with a year calendar on which you can add events or content as the month’s pass.
Once you have a calendar’s structure set up, it’s time for you to highlight any upcoming events, seasonal changes, and holidays. Within the holidays, add popular and national holidays so that you won’t miss any important dates. Seasons are also important in the automotive industry, so be sure to mark when those change as well. Also add events that your customers might be interested in, such as:
- Occupation appreciation days
- New industry product launch(es)
- Local and national auto shows
- Travel planning, like spring break
- Sporting events, like Nascar races or the Superbowl.
Next, you’ll want to add any sales, specials, and promotions that your dealership might be doing throughout the year. You might also want to plan sales around special dates and holidays, such as St. Patrick’s Day.
After that, you’ll need to plan your content’s theme that you wish to follow. For example, one month you can follow the trends in the automotive industry, while in another month you can do Tire Care 101. As long as it correlates with your business and industry, it really doesn’t matter.
You’ll then need to make sure that you plan any promotional content, including specials and deals. These can include:
- Overhead messaging
- On-hold messaging
- On-property signage
- Paid advertising
- Content marketing
On top of that, you’ll also wish to plan out your non-promotional content, such as content that you wish to engage the audience with. These can be anything from PR and community relations to social media and content marketing.
Lastly, be sure to use your content calendar as your inspiration to focus on everything you’re doing. It’s important that you don’t get pressured by the need to fill up all blank spaces or types of content. Continue to stay focused on your current platforms that work well for you, but don’t be afraid to try out newer styles to test their performance.