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Avoid the Q1 Content Drought

October 31, 2017 - Content Marketing, influencer content marketing -
By: Chris Riley

For those of us in certain sectors, the day after Thanksgiving brings a whole new leisurely pace. Your task list stops growing, you find it easier to take an extra coffee break in the middle of the day, and the messages in your inbox seem to actually be going down. But this calm is a precursor to the panic to come soon after midnight on December 31st. Once Q1 of the new year hits, your workload ramps up quickly. And if you took your holiday leisure too seriously, as many of us do, you are caught frantically trying to catch up. For marketers, this catch-up means you need content, and need it now. If only you had used Q4 and the holiday season to ramp up your content runway.

Actually having a content runway

We find that many marketing teams think of content reactively, not proactively. They are trying to populate their blog in real time, or get an asset for a campaign once the campaign has already been planned.

For blogs, this means they only worry about getting new content when their blog has already run dry, and as soon as they get content, it’s published. This usually results in not having a consistent schedule, and long periods of no posts at all, with bing posting in between.

This is not a content runway. A content runway means you have a backlog of content ready to schedule. For a blog, the content backlog is augmented with more reactive posts based on the market, and makes for a healthy post volume—no less than two posts a week. For campaigns, it means that campaigns will not be delayed, or watered-down to satisfy the campaign launch.

Healthy content marketing organizations have a blog backlog of two months, and three or more assets ready for any campaign to leverage.

New Year’s resolution

Creation of a content runway has to happen when you are already flush with content. And there is no better time than Q4. When the holiday lull hits, people tend to put content aside, along with everything else. However, the holidays are the best time to start building your content runway for the next year. During this time:

  1. People are more attentive: More attentive writers and reviewers mean better content.
  2. Topics can be deeper: Instead of trying to pull mediocre topics out of the hat, you can spent time researching topics for content and making it more impactful.
  3. Strategies can be applied: You probably have an SEO strategy, but have not been using it. When you create content at the end of the year, you can be more deliberate about all the great SEO work you have done, and apply it to your content.

During the holiday season, you are probably not chasing your boss’ next big marketing idea. You can spend your extra time building a robust content runway that provides 70% or more of what you need for the first half of the following year.

Focus on assets

Assets are the best type of content to create in Q4, because assets generally take a minimum of a month to complete, and have longer review cycles than blog posts. They also usually have layout and design components that are best handled once the content is complete. Leveraging seasonal calm to create full-blown assets is great. (Assets are also not as reactive to what is going on in the market, which means their shelf life is much longer than blog posts.) It’s very conceivable to have all your assets ready for the following year in Q4. This means that any campaign you run in the year is focused on campaign creative and strategy, not producing an asset associated with a call to action. Whitepapers, ebooks, and extended articles will have better quality, topics, and design with some extra attention at the end of the year.

Similarly, SEO landing pages and documentation are types of content that can be substantially more beneficial by being created and focused on during the holiday season.

Content will seem less like a monumental task when you produce it at the end of the year. Content creation is one of those heads-down activities that has to be free of interruption. And for many, only in Q4 is there an opportunity to focus. Of course, by leveraging a service like Fixate, your assets can be created with no additional effort.

With our clients, our asset creation, documentation, and editing services peak in Q4. Marketing teams that go into the new year armed with great content can look forward to a year that is less stressful, and more impactful. Avoid the Q1 content drought.


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Chris Riley (@HoardingInfo) is a technologist who has spent 12 years helping organizations transition from traditional development practices to a modern set of culture, processes and tooling. In addition to being a research analyst, he is an O’Reilly author, regular speaker, and subject matter expert in the areas of DevOps strategy and culture. Chris believes the biggest challenges faced in the tech market are not tools, but rather people and planning.