Follow Your Buyer's parent company, VertMarkets, receives dozens of requests for our editorial calendars from vendors and contributors each month. Our response (that we don't have editorial calendars) might seem perplexing.
You see, editorial calendars were an absolute necessity in the old days when print was the king of the B2B publishing world. Each issue of the print magazine we still publish, Life Science Leader, requires about three months of lead time.
Print takes long-term planning. That was then, and the now is digital. We reach many more readers beyond print, and that digital reach has drastically changed editorial capabilities.
Back when we produced annual editorial calendars, there was a lot of guesswork involved. Today though, editors don’t have to be fortune-tellers. Instead, they can use reader engagement data to see what is relevant and trending. Editors don't have to guess in October what they should cover the following August, now they can react to a new regulation or advancement almost instantaneously.
The old-school editorial calendar model was often a product of throwing editors in a room with sales reps for a few hours and seeing what came out of it. That closed-door process looks something like this: the sales team would review their categories of advertisers, and editors would plan to cover a topic related to those categories a few times a year. Notice what was missing in that conversation? The reader, your customer!
Yes, it would be easier for us to sell ads around an editorial calendar with vendor-focused content, but that’s not the kind of content that benefits our readers. Plus, there are plenty of reasons why we don’t think vendors should choose ad placements based on editorial topics alone:
- First, we know our readers don’t make purchasing decisions according to marketing campaigns (to learn why, check out this article, “Who Is Your Marketing Campaign Serving?”).
- Second, a buyer’s journey can start at any time, which means you need to constantly be in front of readers. If you’re only actively marketing a few times each year based on an editorial calendar, then there’s a good chance you’ll miss out on the start of a buyer’s journey (and it’s critical to get in front of prospects early on, well before they request an RFP or agree to talk to your sales team).
- And third, editorial calendars are typically built around products/services/technologies. We know the best way to engage our readers is to create content that helps solve their problems and challenges (for more on that, head to this article, “What Should We Write About? Advice For Choosing The Best Content Marketing Topics”).
Creating editorial calendars built around vendors can suggest editors are for sale. And, at our company, they aren’t. To us, an editor’s job is to build a highly engaged audience of like-minded readers. To do that they have to be deeply in tune with what those readers care about (not with what our strategic partners would like them to write about). Our editors publish content based on the conversations they have with their readers, feedback from their editorial board members, and industry research. This reader-editor feedback loop is ongoing, which means their coverage focus constantly evolves.
All of that said, editors do have a list of editorial themes that they update regularly. Fortunately, these themes act as guides so that our editors are no longer limited by working off an editorial calendar. We produce editorial that specifically speaks to the pain points of our readers, and we suggest you plan your content strategy the same way – by writing about what your customers care about, not about your products and services.