Creating A Content Marketing Calendar For Humans

Creating A Content Marketing Calendar For Humans. Image created by DALLE-2 with a prompt by Steve Davis

In the noisy, fast-paced world of digital marketing, it's easy for small business owners and leaders to be trapped on the hamster wheel of "churning out" content (because a guru or an AI tool said to), or do nothing because it's too overwhelming.

The pressure to consistently produce content can be overwhelming, and that's not helped by a million voices all pushing different barrows, eg, Instagram first, blog first, TikTok first, LinkedIn first, Ads first, etc.

But if you have never paused to ask, who is this content for, then it's time to slam the brakes on.

This is because, if the answer is 'humans,' then it's absolutely crucial to plan our approach to content marketing for the people we are best equipped to attract and serve.

So let's dive in, understand the context and role of a content marketing calendar, and finish with a couple of generic examples to give you a starter kit.

Why Plan Marketing Content in Advance?

You can benefit immensely from planning your content marketing in advance, primarily because it reduces the cognitive load during the busyness of life. For example, who can truly dedicate solid thought to answering common client questions meaningfully, when you have a deadline for a project or back-to-back client meetings, or front line staff on leave, etc?

That said, there are some other reasons I brainstormed with my AI assistant, Ember, namely:

  1. Consistency and Reliability: One of the keys to successful content marketing is consistency. With a planned calendar, businesses can ensure regular content output, fostering reliability in the eyes of their audience. This must take into account your resources of time or budget to sustain this output plan; always keep it real. I would rather you do less, than start with a burst and then burn out.
  2. Quality Over Quantity: When content is planned, there's ample time to research, draft, revise, and perfect it. This leads to higher quality content compared to rushed, last-minute pieces.
  3. Strategic Alignment: A content calendar allows you to align your content with strategic goals, whether it's driving sales, increasing engagement, or building brand awareness. By the way, if you haven't done some solid planning for a while, the special planning sessions that I run with my experienced colleague, David Olney, are educational and practical; guaranteed to make you better at planning while also seeing how many assets you already have under your nose and how they might be realigned.
  4. Resource Optimisation: Knowing what content to produce and when ensures that resources (time, money, manpower) are used efficiently. I'll be doing a post and workshop soon on "batch production" of short-form videos, which are "hot" right now. That means, the social media sites show them more because people seem to be consuming them more readily than other forms of social media content.
  5. Anticipating Market Trends: With a forward-looking approach, you can anticipate market trends, seasons, and events, creating content that's timely and relevant. If you've ever done one of my blogging workshops, you'll know that hooking into these things can make your content super engaging and even novel.

Content For Humans, Not Just Algorithms

While planning is crucial, it's equally important to remember that content should be crafted for humans, not just search engines or algorithms. I've been a broken record on this message for at least 15 years. Sorry. Not sorry.

Here's where a word of caution comes in: Do not fall into the trap of churning out content for the sake of it.

Just following formulas or templates without understanding the needs and preferences of your audience can lead to generic, uninspiring content.

Such content might tick all the boxes of SEO best practices or appear regularly on your platforms, but does it resonate with the audience? Does it provide value? Does it engage, inspire, and prompt action?

As part of my role as a mentor in the ASBAS Digital Solutions program, I get to meet hundreds of business people, and have noted these pitfalls that we should try to avoid:

  • Overproduction: More is not always better. It's better to produce one high-quality, well-researched piece of content than five generic ones. That came straight from some Google engineers who visited Adelaide prior to Covid.
  • Losing Authenticity: In the quest to fit moulds or templates, you can sometimes lose your unique voice. Authenticity is key to building genuine connections. I saw some allied health professionals today, and their posts on 10 Ways To Avoid XYZ, were thinly-disguised ads, looking very much like automated text from an AI app.
  • Forgetting the Audience: Always keep the audience in mind. What are their pain points? What solutions are they seeking? What interests them?

Striking the Right Balance

The primary goal of marketing content creation is to prepare and publish helpful content that can be found and consumed by our ideal customers when they go searching to solve a problem or explore a question online. Having displayed our prowess, we earn trust and increase the likelihood they will choose us when they are ready to buy the product or service under investigation.

As part of that, we should strike a balance between planned, evergreen content and timely, real world stories that emerge from our daily work and interaction with customers.

A content marketing calendar serves as a roadmap, providing direction and structure. And within that structure, we find there's ample room for creativity, spontaneity, and genuine human connection.

Consider the calendar as a flexible guide, not a rigid dictate etched in stone. The idea is to be prepared but not robotic.

If something significant happens in your industry or there's a sudden event that involves your clients, ignore the planned content and address it instead.


In conclusion, a content marketing calendar is an invaluable tool for small businesses. It brings structure, consistency, and strategic alignment. But while we plan, let's not forget the human element. After all, behind every click, share, or comment is a human being seeking value, connection, and solutions.

I dread the day when a customer's AI bot is used to search for services, talks to a business' AI bot, and then automatically places an order. Fine for the routine purchase of staples, but rather dystopian to think your AI bot has not only booked your holiday but taken it on your behalf and left a review for the tourism operator's AI bot, which in turn boosts its rankings for other customers' AI bots.

So, always remember that small business is about humans providing value to other humans and your content marketing calendar is simply a tool to help you help them find, trust, and choose you.

And to get you started on this journey, here are two generic content marketing calendars that can serve as a foundation for your unique content strategy, which I co-produced with Ember.

Generic Content Marketing Calendar With Examples For Retail and/or Tourism Businesses

Day 1 (Sunday):

  • Website:
    • Publish a blog post discussing common problems or pain points in the industry.
    • Example 1: "The Timeless Appeal of Handcrafted Jewellery: Why It Beats Mass-Produced Pieces"
    • Example 2: "Rediscovering Our Roots: The Importance of Local History in Today's Fast-Paced World"
    • Reason: Addressing industry pain points resonates with the audience and establishes expertise.
  • Social Media Platform 1 & 2:
    • Share the blog post.
    • Example 1: "Ever felt the difference between handcrafted jewellery and mass-produced ones? Dive into the timeless appeal of artisanal pieces."
    • Example 2: "In a world of rapid change, local history grounds us. Discover the importance of preserving our roots."
    • Reason: Amplifying the pain point discussion on social media broadens its reach and encourages engagement.

Day 3 (Tuesday):

  • Newsletter:
    • Discuss a common challenge and hint at an upcoming solution.
    • Example 1: "Struggling to find unique jewellery pieces? Stay tuned for our handcrafted collection!"
    • Example 2: "Ever wondered about our town's rich history? We have something exciting coming up!"
    • Reason: Teasing a solution to subscribers builds anticipation.

Day 5 (Thursday):

  • Social Media Platform 2:
    • Share a testimonial or review that indirectly introduces the product/service while addressing the pain point.
    • Example 1: "Sarah found the perfect handcrafted necklace for her anniversary. Discover unique pieces that tell a story!"
    • Example 2: "John rediscovered his town's history with us. Dive into the past and learn fascinating tales!"
    • Reason: Real-world testimonials highlight the product/service benefits and resonate with potential customers.

Day 7 (Saturday):

  • Website:
    • Publish a blog post introducing the product/service as a solution to the discussed pain points.
    • Example 1: "Introducing Our Artisanal Jewellery Collection: The Answer to Your Quest for Uniqueness"
    • Example 2: "Step Back in Time: How Our Local History Museum Revives the Town's Glorious Past"
    • Reason: Now that the pain point is established, introducing the solution solidifies the value proposition.

Day 9 (Monday):

  • Social Media Platform 1 & 2:
    • Share behind-the-scenes content, emphasising how it addresses the pain points.
    • Example 1: "Behind the scenes: Crafting each jewellery piece with precision and love, ensuring you get the unique charm you seek."
    • Example 2: "A sneak peek into curating historical artefacts, preserving our town's rich legacy."
    • Reason: Giving a glimpse of the process adds authenticity and trust.

Day 11 (Wednesday):

  • Online Community Groups:
    • Share the product/service, emphasising its unique selling proposition.
    • Example 1: "Seeking unique jewellery? Explore our handcrafted collection that stands out from the mass-produced crowd."
    • Example 2: "History buffs, rejoice! Dive deep into our town's past with curated exhibits at our museum."
    • Reason: Sharing in niche community groups targets potential customers more effectively.

Day 13 (Friday):

  • Social Media Platform 1:
    • Share a comparison post, highlighting the product/service's uniqueness.
    • Example 1: "Handcrafted vs. Mass-produced: The Unparalleled Charm of Artisanal Jewellery"
    • Example 2: "Local Museums vs. Generic Ones: The Depth of Personalised Historical Exploration"
    • Reason: Differentiating the offering from competitors provides clarity to potential customers.

Day 15 (Sunday):

  • Newsletter:
    • Provide a special offer or discount.
    • Example 1: "Exclusive for our subscribers: 10% off on our artisanal jewellery collection!"
    • Example 2: "History lovers, get 15% off on museum tickets this week!"
    • Reason: Special offers incentivise action, turning interest into purchase.

Day 17 (Tuesday):

  • Social Media Platform 2:
    • Host a live demo or informational session.
    • Example 1: "Join us live as we showcase our latest jewellery pieces, each telling a unique story."
    • Example 2: "Live tour of our museum's most treasured exhibits. Discover stories that shaped our town!"
    • Reason: Live sessions provide a dynamic way to showcase the product/service and engage with the audience.

Day 19 (Thursday):

  • All Channels:
    • Share success stories or case studies.
    • Example 1: "Meet Emily, who found the perfect artisanal ring for her special day. Your unique piece awaits!"
    • Example 2: "The Smith family's weekend trip to our museum became a memorable journey through time. Experience history like never before!"
    • Reason: Real-world examples resonate with potential customers and highlight the tangible benefits they can expect.

Event-Focussed Generic Content Marketing Calendar With Examples For Training And The Arts

Day 1 (Sunday):

  • Website:
    • Publish a blog post discussing common challenges or needs the event addresses.
    • Reason: Starting with challenges or needs resonates with the audience and sets the stage for the event's value proposition.
    • Example 1: "The Importance of Marketing Planning for Local Businesses"
    • Example 2: "Reviving Arts in Our Community: The Impact of Local Theatre Productions"
  • Social Media Platform 1 & 2:
    • Share the blog post.
    • Reason: Sharing the pain point discussion on social media broadens its reach and encourages engagement.
    • Example 1: "Ever felt overwhelmed with marketing your business? Discover the importance of structured marketing planning."
    • Example 2: "Experience the magic of local arts! Dive into the impact of community theatre in our town."

Day 3 (Tuesday):

  • Newsletter:
    • Discuss the upcoming event as a solution to the discussed challenges.
    • Reason: Direct communication with subscribers builds anticipation.
    • Example 1: "Join us for a workshop that demystifies marketing planning for local businesses!"
    • Example 2: "Get ready for a mesmerising musical experience right in our community theatre!"

Day 5 (Thursday):

  • Social Media Platform 2:
    • Share a testimonial or review from a past similar event.
    • Reason: Testimonials offer social proof and build credibility.
    • Example 1: "John's business flourished after attending our last marketing workshop. Join us for the next!"
    • Example 2: "Sarah was spellbound by our last production. Experience the magic yourself this season!"

Day 7 (Saturday):

  • Website:
    • Publish a blog post detailing the event's agenda or highlights.
    • Reason: Providing details can help potential attendees see the tangible benefits.
    • Example 1: "What to Expect from Our Marketing Planning Workshop"
    • Example 2: "Behind the Curtains: Highlights of Our Upcoming Musical Production"

Day 9 (Monday):

  • Social Media Platform 1 & 2:
    • Share event details or snippets from the upcoming event.
    • Reason: Regular updates keep the event top-of-mind and build excitement.
    • Example 1: "Workshop Alert: Discover key marketing strategies with expert sessions!"
    • Example 2: "Sneak peek: Rehearsals in full swing for our grand musical production!"

Day 11 (Wednesday):

  • Online Community Groups:
    • Share event details emphasising its unique selling proposition.
    • Reason: Sharing in niche community groups targets potential attendees more effectively.
    • Example 1: "Boost your business! Join our marketing planning workshop tailored for local businesses."
    • Example 2: "Theatre lovers, join us for a musical extravaganza over two captivating weeks!"

Day 13 (Friday):

  • Social Media Platform 1:
    • Share a countdown or reminder post.
    • Reason: Countdowns create a sense of urgency and excitement.
    • Example 1: "Only 7 days left to our marketing workshop! Secure your seat now."
    • Example 2: "The stage is set, and the curtains rise in 5 days! Book your tickets for the musical magic."

Day 15 (Sunday):

  • Newsletter:
    • Send a reminder with a special offer or discount for the event.
    • Reason: A special offer can incentivise subscribers to take action.
    • Example 1: "Last chance: Register for our workshop and get a free marketing toolkit!"
    • Example 2: "Flash Sale: 10% off on musical tickets for the next 48 hours!"

Day 17 (Tuesday):

  • Social Media Platform 2:
    • Host a live Q&A or informational session about the event.
    • Reason: Live sessions provide a dynamic way to showcase the event and engage with the audience.
    • Example 1: "Join us live for a session on the importance of marketing planning for local businesses."
    • Example 2: "Live chat with the director and cast members of our upcoming musical!"

Day 19 (Event Day or Week):

  • All Channels:
    • Share live updates, photos, and snippets from the event.
    • Reason: Live updates engage attendees and also serve as promotional content for future events or offerings.
    • Example 1: "Live from the workshop: Keynote session on innovative marketing strategies!"
    • Example 2: "Opening night magic: Scenes from the grand premiere of our musical!"

Some of these suggested topics are "over the top" but hopefully these two drafts will give you a place to start.

NOTE: Workshop download for Birdwood participants until October 31, 2023.

Get helpful marketing articles and links to our latest podcast episodes