Consistently pushing out content to your audience is key to staying top of mind and relevant, but it’s easy to fall behind and feel overwhelmed as the holidays and Q4 encroach. That’s why we say there’s no time like the present to take a minute to get organized. In fact, we’ve even listed “create a content calendar” as one of our Top Tips of the Year. We like to think of it as a pathway to success to help your team relay valuable information to your readers and stakeholders.
Still not convinced you need a content calendar? No one likes to scramble or feel rushed, especially during a time when it’s important to ramp up communication. A content calendar will allow your entire marketing team to brainstorm topics, visualize production, and plan how they will promote and disseminate the information. It means you can put more thought into each article’s title, images (like that goofy meme you’ve been eyeing all year), and meat of the message to better convey your brand’s story. Not only will a content calendar ensure your readers receive valuable information during the busiest time of the year, but it will establish a consistent framework that you can roll into an equally successful start to the New Year. That sounds like the perfect resolution to us….
As with anything, getting started is often the hardest part. Luckily for you, we have four easy steps we think can help.
Step 1: Timing is key
Take a look at the fiscal calendar and identify key dates in November, December, and January you want to create content for. If you know how long it takes you to brainstorm, write and publish a piece, you can work backwards to set your planning and publishing goals, making sure to schedule deadlines a few days in advance of the actual date. As a consumer, it’s good practice to consider how early you’d want to receive sales information. You likely start collecting Black Friday promotions at least a few days beforehand so you can plan your mall route (and want to give your customers the same courtesy). Make sure to give yourself ample time to edit, source images, put the finishing touches on your piece, and push it out to the appropriate marketing channels. Pro Tip: Don’t forget to mark important company dates on your calendar, as well. Timing that last blog post before the final marketing meeting of the year ensures you leave a good impression before the annual review.
Step 2: Include shipping dates in the calendar
As we’ve touched on above, before you even begin brainstorming promotions, think like a consumer. It’s important to include shipping dates in your calendar so you can gently remind shoppers when they should start (or finish) making purchasing decisions. The below dates will ensure packages are delivered before Christmas Day so Santa’s not working overtime.
USPS Christmas Shipping Deadlines
Dec. 15: Deadline for USPS Retail Ground (Standard Parcel Post)
Dec. 20: Deadline for First-Class Mail
Dec. 21: Deadline for Priority Mail
Dec. 23: Deadline for Priority Express Mail
UPS Christmas Shipping Deadlines
Dec. 19: Deadline for 3-Day Select
Dec. 21: Deadline for 2nd Day Air
Dec. 23: Deadline for Next Day Air
FedEx Christmas Shipping Deadlines
Dec. 12: Deadline for SmartPost
Dec. 16: Deadline for Home Delivery and Ground Delivery
Dec. 19: Deadline for Express Saver
Dec. 21: Deadline for 2-Day and 2-Day A.M.
Dec. 22: Deadline for Standard Overnight, Priority Overnight, and First Overnight
Amazon Christmas Shipping Deadlines
Amazon has not yet posted its shipping deadlines for the 2016 holiday season, but we’re big fans of having a Prime account for any last minute stocking stuffers. You can use this link to check on their updated holiday ordering information as it’s released.
Step 3: Plan around important holidays
Below is a handy list of national holidays to help you get started. Don’t forget include local events that may be relevant to your readers or your team.
Nov. 11: Veterans Day
Nov. 24: Thanksgiving
Nov. 25: Black Friday
Nov. 28: Cyber Monday
Dec. 21: Winter Solstice
Dec: 24: Christmas Eve (Note: Christmas Eve observed is Friday, Dec. 23)
Dec. 25: Christmas Day
Dec. 31: New Year’s Eve (Note: New Year’s Eve observed Friday, Dec. 30)
Jan. 1: New Year’s Day
Step 4: Get to work
Begin brainstorming topics that will be relevant come holiday time. If you’re hitting a wall, you can always review old content and identify ways to repurpose it. Assign tasks to your team and benchmark key dates to ensure continued success. Need some ideas for posts? We have a few we think your readers will love.