“Plans have changed, Barbie,” was a constant refrain/inside joke in my house growing up.
When I was a kid, we had a Commodore 64, one of the first personal desktop computers.
(Am I dating myself here? Hmmm…)
Mostly? My sister and I used it to play games. (I don’t remember my parents ever using it, except my dad occasionally playing a flight simulator game.) And my sister’s favorite, by far, was the Barbie game.
The game started with Barbie answering the phone, and Ken inviting her on a date.
“Hey Barbie! Would you like to go to the pool/play tennis/the ball?”
“Great! I’ll pick you up in an hour.”
Then, a little countdown clock would appear on the bottom of the screen, and Barbie would zoom off in her convertible to troll the 8-bit streets of her town and get gussied up in appropriate (or, if you were me, wildly inappropriate) attire.
If you returned back to Barbie’s dream house before the hour was up, the phone would ring, and Ken would say, “Plans have changed, Barbie. Would you like to go to the….” And the gussying would start all over again.
And, as much as we could sometimes be heard shouting, “SCREW YOU, KEN!” at the computer, it became funny shorthand in our house for things going completely sideways or changing entirely. (Ken would often ask you to a fancy dinner date one minute and the pool an hour later.) For our family, it amounted to alerting people it was time to roll with the punches.
“Plans have changed, Barbie.”
If you were to have looked at my calendar in October or November, the week of December 5 would have had “NEW WEBSITE LAUNCH!!” excitedly scrawled across it in pencil.
Now, I’m not naive enough to think that websites ever do what they’re supposed to, so that’s why it was in pencil. And in my head, I had already thought that if, with a projected date of Dec. 5, we could launch by the new year, we’d be doing fine.
Yeah, that didn’t happen.
It’s nobody’s fault! In fact, if anything, it was a poor assumption on my part that caused the confusion, not anything to do with my team. But nevertheless, it caused a little wrinkle in my content marketing plans.
You need to have a plan for your content marketing, but what happens when that plan changes — dramatically?
Because I’ve got my editorial calendar planned out several months in advance, so that I can match my content with my marketing efforts, I had already planned a series of posts to support my new website launch. I had teaser social media posts all written and ready to go. I was ON IT.
And then IT changed.
Having a plan actually gives you more flexibility.
Did I panic? Well no, I did not. I just started shifting topics and dates around in my calendar. In fact, it was pretty dang simple. A few tweaks and I was ready to go again.
Plus, it gave me the opportunity to brainstorm a really cool launch event for you guys — with prizes!! — that never would have happened if we’d launched on the original date.
So, this is all very “Look on the bright side of life,” but how did having a plan actually help me? Let’s break it down.
- The plan is a tool; I’m still in charge.
A lot of people avoid making an editorial calendar because they are afraid that planning things out in advance will kill their spontaneity or inspiration. But the plan is fluid. It has to be for when things change! Just like 8-bit Barbie, you have to just roll with it, get back in your dream car, and start again.
- Easily change when something happens.
Just because my launch got pushed back doesn’t mean that the ideas I had weren’t any good. Luckily, my editorial calendar system is built in a spreadsheet, so I can literally just cut and paste those ideas onto different dates weeks or months later. No matter what kind of editorial calendar tools you use, you should be able to easily change when things are scheduled. That’s KEY for having a plan that works for you (not against you!).
- Have all your ideas in one place.
Another benefit of my particular editorial calendar system is that it has an idea bank built in. So when I was suddenly faced with two months of blog posts to plan before my launch, I could easily hop over to my idea bank and pick out some appropriate topics. Which leads me to…
- Know your why (so the plan can support it).
Because of the system I use to plan my editorial calendar, I knew which topics to pick. I decided to go ahead and open up my Content Intelligence Agency on schedule, even though the new website wasn’t ready yet, so I knew I wanted topics to support my sales efforts for that course. Because I knew the why behind my content, I could pick topics that would support my marketing efforts. (Which, by the way, I teach in CIA.)
Now, rather than a) panicking that I don’t have anything to write about week after week; b) writing about whatever the heck I want with no thought to my overall marketing strategy; or c) giving up and not writing anything because I don’t know what to write about, I instead have an opportunity to adjust my strategy quickly and use my content wisely until we are ready to launch.
If you’re interested in how you can apply this same strategy to build your editorial calendar and marketing plan — quickly, easily, and efficiently — then I invite you to check out my CIA. I’m running a pretty deep discount on it right now, since it’s not all beautiful with the new website yet. (The content is still awesome; it’s just not gussied up like Barbie.) Click here to learn more.