Content Planning for a Year Not Far, Far Away

By John Oxford

In the Disney+ Star Wars spin-off, The Mandalorian, the show stealer is an adorable tiny baby Yoda. As any nerdy Star Wars fan would know, the original Yoda is a 900-year-old character in Return of the Jedi. Because the baby Yoda we meet in Mandalorian is revealed to be just 50 years old, it makes sense that he’s still an infant, as his full life is expectancy is around 900 years.

But here’s what doesn’t make sense: Years, seasons and calendars are set by earthy trips around the sun. With no earth in this galaxy far, far away—and all of the light-speeding and planet-jumping—how could there even be a comparable time period to know the age of Yoda—or any Star Wars character? It’s a paradox that we set aside as loyal fans to be entertained by fantasy light sabers and sci-fi battles in the fight for intergalactic supremacy.

In a galaxy much closer to home…

Bank marketers know that each year brings a new calendar, new budgets and new opportunities. Getting out in front of the coming year with a solid content plan starts with a calendar strategy. One that, from a tactical standpoint, may be easier to lay out than you realize.

In looking at your content, beyond production and distribution, timing can be just as important—if not more so—than the quality and quantity. Let’s look at an easy way to plan your timing. We’ll call it the “three column calendar.” It goes a little something like this:

In an excel sheet or a simple white board for planning, create three columns.

Column one is the world calendar, column two is your calendar and column three is the calendar of opportunity. With us, please stick around, as Yoda would say.

1) Column one is where you write down all of the worldly dates that call for mandatory content needs. These dates also provide an opportunity to stand out, should you take the time to prepare—which most banks do not. Column one should start with all “bank holidays.” This is usually where you are spending your time creating cling-on stickers for your bank doors and meme-ish social media post to tell your clients that you are closed for the day.

You’re nodding your head right now. We’re all better than this and you know it. By starting early, you can create standout content for these days. You know they are coming; why not take advantage? Here’s an old but great example from Central National Bank for Presidents Day, and a list of some items from the Renasant content site, to help with some ideas.

Go through all of the must-do dates of the year and build your content around those dates. Some—like the major holidays—will have multiple opportunities, while other might just need a digital image or social message. There are usually 15 to 20 days/events on the world calendar to plan for each year, and they are the same. Every. Single. Year.

2) Column two is your “you” calendar. These are the dates that are specific to your bank or community. That bank birthday you believe you need to celebrate because you’re 125 years old. The Watermelon Festival (it’s a real thing); your shred-a-thon; local hotdog-eating contest; BBQ festival; local tour of homes for your mortgage shop—and anything else you’ll need that is not externally universal.

This is where you include most of your community content and public relations opportunities. Most likely, you plan for these each year as well—as well as annual reports and shareholder meetings for you publicly traded companies. Getting out in front of these can make your life as a marketer a lot less stressful.

3) Column three. In The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda says, “Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future.” This is your column three. The column of opportunity, or in many cases, the column of the unknown. How can you plan for the unknown, you ask? Well, if you have the first two columns covered with prepared content for known events, you can be ready to take advantage when that M&A announcement hits your inbox. Or your bank wins a reader’s choice award or was selected as best bank in your region.

Don’t fall behind by neglecting to plan your message and content for Presidents, Veterans, Memorial, Labor…you-name-the-day. You know it’s always coming. If you don’t get ahead of it, it may keep you from discovering a creative opportunity that might be your brand move of the year.

If this all sounds pretty simple—it’s just preparation and planning after all—it is just that. However, if you plan your content calendar this way, you’ll most likely find 40 days, events and content topics just to get started on columns one and two. You can then backfill with future opportunities. That comes to nearly one opportunity per week for the entire calendar year. So start now as the New Year approaches—and as you plan your content strategy for 2020, may the force be with you.

To hear more on this topic, listen to this week’s Marketing Money Podcast as I talk it through with Josh Mabus of the Mabus Agency. As an added bonus, check out more advice on social media calendaring with the three calendar columns for 2020.

John Oxford is director of marketing at Renasant Bank and co-host of the Marketing Money Podcast.