how to plan online contests and sweepstakes for 2018

Ignore Tired Holiday Marketing Campaigns & Plan For 2018 Instead

You know it well: now is the time of year where blogs and publishers will start rolling out the same tired advice and techniques that have been in holiday marketing articles for years. The holiday season is huge for most retailers, but creating a plan a month or so before doesn’t set you up for success. Instead of scrambling to create a clever holiday marketing campaign, your energy may be more effective if it went into being better prepared for 2018.

By getting the jump on the New Year, you will be using your time and marketing dollars more productively. Below are some areas you can start preparing for to finally feel ahead of the game in your marketing strategy, and to cut the stress that comes with planning upcoming seasonal events.

Long-Term Projects

When it comes to planning an annual strategy and roadmap, think big and then scale down. Break up your year into the four quarters (a mind map, online spreadsheet table, or actual whiteboard is great for this initial step), and then outline the long-term projects you’d like to complete over the next twelve months. If there are items on a brainstorm list or always in the back of your mind that never seem to get done, listing them out here and starting to plan for them will get them done.

Some of the marketing projects your team could tackle include:

  • Revising or improving old posts that are still getting traffic
  • Fixing all 404 errors, as well as broken images and links
  • Writing long pieces of content, like ebooks
  • Creating a new recurring content series, like a podcast or webinars
  • Setting team goals, like speaking at two conferences over the next year
  • Other housekeeping tasks you never seem to do, like updating the old About page or doing an internal SEO audit

Once they are separated out by quarter, start breaking them down even further into each milestone and assign those out to each person responsible. If you don’t want to do this all at once, set aside time two to three weeks before each quarter to plan out the next quarter.

Build an Editorial Calendar

Once you have your big projects covered, you can start planning your small pieces of content that happen on a monthly or weekly basis. Planning could include blog posts, infographics, or any other bits of material that are needed. To fill out your editorial calendar (which can be an online spreadsheet), first, figure out what your content production goals are. For instance, if your goal is two new blog posts per week, you would need 104 blog posts for 2018. Look at how many writers you have on the team who write posts. Let’s say you have five. Divide the number of posts amongst your writers, either equally or whatever works best based on workload and responsibility.

104 blog posts divided by five writers is a little less than two posts per writer per month. Fill out your editorial calendar with your desired quota and assign the pieces to each writer to fill their quota. Completing the editorial calendar is something that can also be done before each new quarter (and if your industry changes a lot, creating a new editorial schedule a month at a time might be a better idea). Your calendar can help you plan a better variety of content and see at a glance each person’s responsibility.

Mainly, for editorial calendars, use the same approach as the large-project initiative: identify your goals and then break them down by due dates, assigned to the right people.

Create Better Social Media Content

A New Year usually motivates people to step up their game. In the case for planning for 2018, why not think about how you can improve your online presence, beyond your website? If your brand is active on social media, you can reevaluate what’s working and what isn’t, and change your strategy accordingly. Some of the things you can change for next year’s social media content include:

  • Better images for articles that are more appealing on social media
  • More images created for social media, like quotes or promotions
  • A better content resharing plan to give older, but still relevant, content fresh attention

If you aren’t getting the engagement on social media that you once were, consider stepping up your game with contests, paid social campaigns, or a more engaged presence. Set a clear goal with a due date for what metrics you want to improve and work toward it.

Reads to Tackle 2018

With so much to plan, it can seem a little overwhelming to think about planning an entire year at once. Here are some of my favorite books and resources for planning the year:

Content Planning

The One Hour Content Plan is a great read, even if you aren’t a solopreneur (which is who it’s geared toward). It teaches you how to come up with tons of content ideas, quickly and easily.

For content planning, CoSchedule usually has annual free templates you can use to organize better and outline the content you are going to create.

The 12 Week Year

The 12 Week Year is a great book that teaches you how to plan one quarter at a time.

Profit First

If you’re a small business, I recommend Profit First, which can be helpful for better managing your cash flow to ensure you have funds for all your content and marketing campaigns.

Be Better Prepared For The Next Big Holiday

With all this large-scale planning, when the next holiday season rolls around, you won’t find yourself scrambling for a plan. Because you already have it figured out months in advance, you can spend your time actually creating the campaigns, not worrying about them.

Thinking so far in advance forces your team to be better prepared before the content is actually due. This leads to more seamless campaigns that make a more significant impact, all with less stress!

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