3 Reasons why you should stop using spreadsheets for content planning

By: Chris Thompson on June 20, 2017 Categories: Content Marketing, Content Strategy, Corporate Communications
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Looking back just 40 years ago, accountants managed their books using paper, pencils, and calculators. Then in 1983, Lotus 123 (followed by Microsoft Excel in 1985) changed the game with spreadsheet software. It helped save time, prevent human error, and allowed companies to analyze data and make powerful business decisions.
That’s what using the right tool can do for productivity and profit. However, even a good tool can’t do everything. Spreadsheets are superb at managing financial data, but they’re terrible for project management and editorial workflows.  It’s a lot like using your favorite screwdriver to dig a hole. You could manage, but you’re better off looking for a shovel.

Spreadsheets can’t share, update, or organize critical information.

Communication campaigns involve exchanging ideas, files, and details that don’t fit into the spreadsheet format. All of this information is shared using other documents. This creates issues that significantly slow down your workflow:

  • Confusing briefs. Your team has to fit information cobbled together from emails, documents, and chats. There’s a lot of “Is this what you mean?” and “Where do I find…” until it all clicks together. Creating content can feel like solving a Rubix cube.
  • Outdated calendars. With everyone reading emails (see above) who has time to update the spreadsheet?
  • Disconnected plans.  Do you organize your spreadsheet by campaign, persona, or type of content? What if all of your content funnels back to the social media manager, who has to create another spreadsheet for his calendar? Or if you need to extract some plans for a writer who’s only involved in one phase of the campaign?  And how many spreadsheets do you need to look at if your client asks, “How many sales materials did we make this year, and which ones performed best?”

Spreadsheets can’t track changes and accountability.  

Have you or your team ever played these guessing games?

  • Whodunnits. There’s a glaring error on published content and you need to find out what happened, how it got approved, and who is ultimately accountable for it.
  • Spin the bottleneck. You’re missing deadlines, and you need to find the cause of the delay. Is it a person, a process, a particularly problematic account? How do you fix the workflow or adjust the deadlines?
  • Find the File. Your content passes through many layers of approval, and now everyone’s confused by which file version to use.

Whatever the answer is, you’re not going to find it on a spreadsheet. You need a content marketing tool that can track how information is shared and how a project evolves over time.

Spreadsheets don’t reflect the typical creative process.

Managers may be very familiar with spreadsheets, but many of the people involved in content creation – writers, graphic designers, video producers – are not. While it’s possible to get customized spreadsheets that reflect your business goals or processes, these do not reflect the way creative teams work.

This is usually what creatives do, and what they need:

  • Collaboration and file sharing. They ask a question, describe what they want, share images or links, or ask for brand bibles or mood boards. In many cases, their work depends on getting clear feedback and accessing the right files.
  • Automatic workflow. Content can often pass through different hands: writer, designer, social media manager, and everyone involved in approval. The ideal tool automatically pushes content to the next stage and notifies who’s up next at the bat.

Spreadsheets vs. Mintent

Mintent is a content marketing tool that lets you plan, produce, publish and analyze content from one platform. Here are some of its functions that can power your editorial process.

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See it for yourself! Try it for free for 2 weeks to see how it simplifies your workflow.