Follow Chipotle's Lead and Create a Content Marketing Calendar

The Mexican food brand is great at developing content and pushing it to its customers. Here's what you should do to be more like it.

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By Jim Joseph • Mar 26, 2014

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The following is the third article in the series, "Content Marketing Like the Big Brands," in which marketing master Jim Joseph discusses ways that small to medium businesses can create compelling content for their customers to generate breakthrough business results.

Just the thought of starting a content marketing campaign can be completely overwhelming. It seems like all the big brands have resources dedicated to researching, writing and creating a year's worth of content, so how could a small business possibly compare?

Don't let "resources" stop you from taking your marketing to the next level. All good content marketing takes is a simple roadmap that breaks down the steps into a manageable plan. In fact, the simpler, the better in my book!

Don't get me wrong; content marketing is a big task even for the big brands. But there's a lesson to be learned from how the big brands approach developing content that we can apply to your own individual businesses.

Related: The 5 Brilliant Strategies You Can Learn From Top Content Marketers

Take a look at Chipotle. It is a master at developing content and pushing it out to its customers. The brand has very clearly stated values, and it sticks to them. The team there has a clear understanding of what's important to their customers, and they give it to them over and over again.

The Chipotle website is chock full of not only information about how the company sources and prepares its food, but also content on sustainable practices in general and what it means to be a responsible farmer and provider.

Chipotle doesn't create "standard" product advertising, but instead has created a series of storylines, featuring an iconic scarecrow, to promote its vision for working with farmers and suppliers. These videos sit on their website, but also get pushed through social channels as well.

Just recently, Chipotle took storytelling to an entirely new level with the creation of a custom television series appearing on Hulu. Titled "Farmed and Dangerous," this mini-series is Hollywood-quality comedic storytelling with their brand values woven throughout. The messaging is in there, but it's housed in entertainment content that engages and delights their audience.

Now none of this can be created in a vacuum and it can't be done all at once. If you really take notice, you'll see that the brand takes a calendar approach to content marketing. Now they might not call it that, but in fact that's what's happening. And Chipotle is not alone in using a calendar approach to developing meaningful content.

Related: Chipotle's New Series Feels Like House of Cards, But Without the Good Parts

Here are three things to keep in mind when creating your content calendar.

1. Utilize your (limited) resources effectively. No brand can do everything all at the same time, and customers can't possibly absorb all of the brand's content at once anyway. The key to effective marketing is to map out how you will flow your content month by month throughout the year. Map it out based on how long it will take you to develop it and how much money it will require. Then space your content out in manageable increments. Timing your content creation to what your own resources can handle is a great first step in the process.

2. Follow your industry's natural cycles. Next you should take a look at what's happening in your industry. Are there natural cycles or seasonality that you should follow throughout the year? Time your content to when your customers are more likely to pay attention and when you might need to maintain a competitive advantage. Focus on the times of the year when your messaging will be most effective.

3. Consider the timing of pop culture. Lastly, incorporate the timing of pop culture events into your plans as well. Holidays, sports, school calendars, awards season and even the weather should all be factors you consider when mapping out your content calendar. You want to present your content when your audience is ready and waiting for it, so timing is critical. Consider matching your calendar releases to other events to piggyback on the momentum.

By taking these three factors into consideration, you can then flow your content across the 12 months of the year -- use a calendar to make it easier -- spreading your resources evenly and timing it to what's important in the industry and to your customers. You'll see your own content marketing calendar start to take shape right before your eyes.

This is exactly what the big brands do, and there's no reason why you can't do the same. Planning like this doesn't cost any money, and in fact it saves money over time because you are building in efficiency and effectiveness by mapping your content to what will work best in the marketplace.

Jim Joseph

Marketing Master - Author - Blogger - Dad

Jim Joseph is a commentator on the marketing industry. He is Global President of the marketing communications agency BCW, author of The Experience Effect series and an adjunct instructor at New York University.

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