Add content calendars to your marketing toolbox

A content calendar can be a useful tool in organizing your community bank’s marketing messages. Here’s how.

By Susan Thomas Springer

Acontent calendar is an old marketing tool with a fresh purpose.

Last century’s marketing decision—“Which newspaper ad do we run this week?”—is no longer the only one. Today’s marketers must assess an ever-expanding pool of channels to select which ones will generate the best returns. This has made the content calendar more needed than ever to focus and organize a community bank’s limited marketing resources.

“A content calendar enables your bank to achieve synergy with the branded and strategically goal-focused messages throughout their specific channel mix to contact your customers and prospects,” says Becki Drahota, CEO of Mills Marketing in Storm Lake, Iowa.

Drahota says content calendars are rarely used to their full potential. She recommends including both traditional and social media channels, pairing the right message with the right channel, tracking results and crafting new messages if existing ones aren’t performing.

Drahota advises building flexibility into the calendar, considering the various lead times required to launch different marketing activities.

For example, traditional channels such as billboards and trade shows require much more preparation than posting a Facebook photo. A six-month calendar allows marketers to plan ahead a couple seasons as well as modify content that isn’t delivering results.

Keep it flexible

Flexibility is key for managing a community bank’s social media budget. Through tracking tools like Google Analytics, marketers gain real-time insight on how social campaigns are performing and what they cost. So if an online ad aimed at acquiring new accounts is more expensive than expected, marketers can adjust their channel or message.

“What’s really changed with technology is the ability to prove ROI,” says Jay Sedgwick, an account executive with WebbMason Marketing, headquartered in Baltimore.

Sedgwick says it’s a daunting task to manage return on investment on current social media options, let alone future platforms, so a content calendar should maintain a focused marketing approach even when channels shift. “We can change digital advertising within the hour, we can update a website in 30 minutes and we can edit a social media post in 30 seconds,” he adds.

What does a content calendar look like?

The format for a content calendar could be the common spreadsheet. However, software versions provide richer functionality, such as real-time visibility for all stakeholders and social media tracking tools. Sedgwick recommends assessing new tools by taking advantage of free trials or using your marketing agency’s software.

A content calendar is a useful tool internally to encourage partnerships between lines of business. For example, if a community bank owns an insurance agency and the content calendar shows a major mortgage announcement, it makes sense to coordinate messaging. Drahota says that by explaining the content calendar to all managers, it can align common marketing messaging and drive “robust referrals” between lines of business.

Susan Thomas Springer is a writer in Oregon.