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Your Content Calendar is Not a Strategy

Every year, millions of people adopt dieting, exercise, and a host of other more or less effective means to lose weight. Every year, like clockwork, about a third of us decide that we should lose weight in and around January 1st, and yet only 8% of New Year’s resolutions actually succeed.

For those of us looking to shed winter weight, or the after effects of a less than physically active lifestyle, writing out the activities on a calendar can be an effective way of stating the intent for the upcoming year. But assuming that writing out your activities is the same as a strategy for ensuring you’ll drop 20 pounds is a surefire (with 92% or greater certainty) way to be disappointed come December.

Marketers make this mistake on the regular. We assume that by mapping out the frequency of posts with which we assault our audience, that the planets will align and a wormhole will open to the unrealistic goals set out either by us or our leadership. And then when Q4 rolls around and we’re only 50% to our annual goals, the hand wringing begins.

Where does it fall apart, and how can we prevent this happening again?

Much akin to our weight loss example, reverse engineering from the end goal is often a good way to litmus test your goals against their feasibility. Say what you want about calorie counting, but a caloric deficit has a causal relationship with weight loss.

Back to a more relevant marketing analogy, maybe before decide to send a spaceship to Mars, we check the amount of rocket fuel we have to generate the amount of thrust necessary to get us to the red planet. And before the nutritionists in the audience skewer me for all the ways in which dieting can go wrong and has to be surrounded by exercise, sleep cycle and 5 other things to work, that’s exactly the point. 

A strategy should consider as many factors as possible that will influence our ability to deliver results, and effect a plan against those factors. A content calendar may be a representation of that work, but it is not that work. As much as we would like a content calendar, a social audit, persona development, or any other singular guardrail to keep us on track, we need to remember that consumer experience is a 3-D thing.

And in 3-D environments, there’s a different kind of motion. If we’re piloting our spaceship to Mars, we don’t turn left. We pull up. 

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