Forecasting 2015: A technique for planning a B2B editorial calendar

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‘Tis the season for predictions for what the coming year might hold: publications and blogs are aglow with the latest from pundits and prognosticators. The continued popularity of these year-end offerings speaks to our ritual of girding ourselves for the coming 12 months as well as our desire to take comfort in knowing what the future might hold. As a result, these articles are often some of the most popular of the year.

Should your company write a year-end recap article?

Despite the fact that such articles often fall prey to the numbered list phenomenon (typically ten trends) and that prognosticators aren’t held accountable for their misses (by the time the next year rolls around, everyone is more interested in looking forward than spending time scolding incorrect forecasts), they do offer a valuable opportunity. For B2B companies, the business cycle slows over the holidays, offering management bit more breathing room to broaden their horizons. Further, as the calendar year draws to a close, executives might naturally seek new ideas to inform next year’s strategic-planning exercises. Therefore, companies that can contribute insights and analysis to the conversation can be well placed to raise their profile and support business development.

And from a content standpoint, there’s an even greater opportunity lurking.

The article development should complement—and enhance—your business strategy

As I’ve noted previously in this blog, the most effective investments in content creation are in projects that serve multiple purposes. The top trends article, when done right, is an ideal platform to not just provide an overview of a given industry but also focus on key elements with direct relevance for your business and its offerings.

Developing a solid, verifiable list of trends takes time, but these discussions should already be taking place among the industry experts you employ; it’s just a matter of capturing these ideas and translating them. These experts, in return, stand to benefit directly by actively engaging in the discussion and elevating their profile in the marketplace.

Then, instead of just writing a one-off article, companies should use the article’s development as an exercise to determine what they want to focus on from a content standpoint in the coming year. The year-end recap can extend seamlessly to the coming year’s publishing calendar, which is a critical element in focusing resources and moving efficiently.

Companies should use the article’s development as an exercise to determine what they want to focus on from a content standpoint in the coming year.

Indeed, the trends piece can be the gift that keeps on giving: every time there’s a news story on one of your trends, you can use it as an opportunity to weigh in, provide analysis, and refer readers back to the original trends blog (to highlight your prescience). In the event some of your predictions don’t pan out, you can discuss the factors that impeded progress in this area. Either way, companies should have more than enough material to work with over the course of the year as well as a framework to guide content development.

Beware the pitfalls

As with any content, companies should be careful to maintain quality and avoid succumbing to expediency in the rush to join the conversation. Putting out a half-baked list of trends without the expertise or analysis to back it up can undermine your credibility.

Although the year is winding down, you still have some time to pull together your forecasts for 2015 and publish before the end of January. And by reading other trends lists, you’ll have a better idea of what publications and businesses—including your clients—want to read about.

Scott Leff

Scott is the founder of Leff. He's spent his career helping executives and subject matter experts tell their story in a compelling way. In the process, he's had the opportunity to work with C-suite executives, politicians, academics, and Olympians, not to mention dozens of talented writers, editors, and designers in the business world. Scott developed the concept of "lean content creation" as a cost-effective way to support comprehensive, integrated communication strategies.

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