Content Plan Pt 1: Set Annual Cadence

As you work on creating next year’s content plan, a natural content cadence will emerge – this can be a powerful driver for your overall strategy. Let’s learn how to structure and leverage that cadence so that it comfortably dovetails with your company’s inherent business goals.

Annual content cadence should be based on the timing of one main driver in your content that is important to your company: For example, it may align with scheduled publication dates for things like magazines or e-newsletters; or maybe new research projects; or perhaps it’s a seasonal cadence where you want fresh content every quarter; or speaking engagements and big trade shows.

Let’s look at some examples of each of these core cadence models.

  • Speaking engagement cadence. A good example is a company that breaks down its annual content cadence to support its targeted trade show schedule for five events each year. These may or may not be podium events, but the company wants to make a splash at each trade show with fresh content that can generate meetings with retailers and vendors.

  • Seasonality cadence. This cadence is more regular, usually broken into quarters. For example, say a software company identifies key content topics for each financial quarter – maybe workers’ comp issue for winter, taxes for spring and holiday pay issues for summer.

  • Print cadence. Bimonthly in-flight magazines are the perfect example here. This content strategy is mapped out in eight-week segments. Even if your company publishes something monthly I still recommend breaking that cadence into eight-week planning periods to create a little breathing room. Otherwise by the time you are done creating one plan it’s already past due time to create the next.

  • Research cadence. Common for companies that work with research departments on annual projects. For example, the organization may generates three big research projects each year, and all other content is based on those research findings.

In my experience, the ideal planning segment is somewhere around 8-12 weeks. That’s long enough to take a breather between planning periods so you can just focus on execution, but short enough to keep your plan fresh and flexible. Let’s look at quick examples of other planning periods for each of our sample cadence groups.

  • The Speaking Engagement cadence is very likely going to be irregular, based on whatever time gap there is leading up to each event. Simply map out the time between each event, and these five time periods during the year are your segment planning periods.

  • The Seasonality cadence is easy to break into an annual plan – for example, divide the plan into four 12 or 13 week periods. Usually I would divide these up by quarters, so January through March, April through June, etc.

  • The Bimonthly cadence also breaks down fairly simply. Each of these periods is about eight weeks. You will end up with a stray week here and there, which you can schedule to promote forthcoming content, or fill in with archived content.

  • The Annual content revolves around how many research projects your company generates. For three research projects a year, that breaks into roughly four-month segments, so let’s say January – April, May – August, September – December.

With cadence periods mapped, it’s time to build out a detailed week by week content strategy for the coming year. Once this weekly plan is in place, your content team can jump into the new year with an easy-to-execute strategy that supports key business goals.