How to Create a Marketing Calendar That Actually Works
What is a marketing calendar?
A marketing calendar is a tool that helps organize your marketing activities throughout the year. It helps prepare your marketing plans in advance. Planning your marketing calendar early is key in developing and managing a strategy that works well and allows you to stay within your budget.
Whether you’ve never created a marketing calendar, need a refresher, or just want to find a better way to strategize for the coming year, this is a great guide to help you be more proactive in your marketing and consumer outreach.
When creating your calendar, try and keep things simple by using an organizational software you are already used to. Google Calendar, Google Sheets, or Microsoft Excel are all familiar platforms for you to utilize. You can also get marketing calendar templates or services from the following companies:
Key Points In Your Calendar
Once you’ve selected the program you are going to use to keep track of your events, you need to fill in the key points you want keep track of. Here are a few main points to note.
- Date: When will the campaign, content, or event go live?
- Type of Campaign: List the type of content or campaign you’ll be running. For example: blog, email, tradeshow, social media post, display advertising, etc.
- Owner: Who is responsible for creating this content?
- Status: Note the current status of the initiative as it moves through its development lifecycle.
There are many more details you can fill in to help you stay organized, but always keep an eye on your main goals. Whether you are a sole proprietor or a have a large marketing team behind you, the most important part of you calendar is the delivery date and the person that will own the content or campaign.
This will help keep you and your team aware of important deadlines, while simultaneously holding everyone on your team accountable.
Tips for creating an effective marketing calendar
Now that you know the basics of the marketing calendar, let’s jump straight to tips on how to make that calendar effective for your business. Simply creating a marketing calendar does not ensure success. . There are many factors to consider for creating an effective marketing calendar. Below are some tips that can help you create your own awesome marketing calendar.
- Know Traditional Marketing Cycles
Every industry has specific sales cycles associated with that industry. Start with a blank 12-month calendar and begin to outline the important events that are specific to your business. In fashion, for example, end of season sales for Spring ramp up in July. Utilize your calendar as a jumping off point for key events in the coming year. Outline at least one marketing opportunity that you can deploy each month. Have fun and be creative.
While this list is a great jumping off point, it’s by no means all-inclusive. Take some time to research the events that are relevant to the niche or industry you operate in. Also note any events that are specific or special to your business, like a company anniversary. These are great opportunities to share your story with your following, prospects, and customers.
- Plan Your Promotional Strategy
For the coming year, plan at least one promotional event for your product or service each quarter. Promos, discounts, and giveaways are a great way to woo new customers and engage your existing clients. Here are a few examples you can use.
- Shipping incentives
- Buy one, get one 50% off
- Bundle offers – get a free product with the purchase of 3 other products
- Email list promo or discount – offer discounts for signing up for your email mailing list
- Social media only offers – create a special discount for your social media accounts. You can promote this directly on your accounts or via your email mailing list
- Giveaways – offer product giveaways on your social media accounts for social engagement
- Assign roles
If you have a marketing team helping you carry out marketing activities, it’s recommended that you assign roles to your marketing executives in advance. Doing this will help them prepare their responsibilities in advance.
Once you have planned all the marketing activities with specific dates and events, you should again plan who will do what task to fulfill your marketing goals.
- Prioritize marketing activities
Not all marketing activities you accomplish throughout the year will carry an equal weight. Some marketing activities will play a vital role in pushing your sales, while other marketing activities may not.
The best way to prioritize marketing activities is by planning the marketing calendar based on the impact the project will have on your brand. For instance, a sales promotion during the Christmas season may be a higher priority when compared to marketing activities planned around smaller events.
- Plan your content in advance
This is extremely important. It’s not enough to decide what marketing activities you’re going to perform on a specific date. You should also decide what content you are going to promote for that specific marketing event. For example, you want to promote a new sales promotion scheme for one specific product on one specific marketing event.
This will help you get a better return on investment from your marketing campaigns. It will also prompt users to remember the actions you want them to take.
Additional tips to further improve your marketing calendar
The tips mentioned above will definitely improve your marketing calendar. Here are some additional tips that can help in further enhancing the quality of your marketing calendar.
- Decide marketing channels for specific events
There are tons of marketing channels in which you can promote your content. It can be display ads, social media ads, Google ads, YouTube ads, print ads, and so on. To get the most out of your marketing efforts, decide the combination of marketing channels that you want to use for every single event.
To select the best marketing channels, it’s important to analyze the nature of the content that you are going to promote. For example, social media platforms may be more effective in creating brand awareness when compared to other marketing channels like Google Adwords.
- Decide content formats
Content formats make a huge impact on the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. Content formats must be decided on the nature of the content. You could promote the content in the form of videos, audio, blog posts, infographics, a combination of images and videos, and so on.
Decide content formats in advance in order to design a better marketing calendar.
- Decide visuals
After you’re done with planning content formats, you want to decide the appropriate visuals for your marketing events. One study shows that the percentage of information retention drastically improves when the content is combined with visuals. This is exactly what a marketer wants to achieve with their marketing campaigns. They want their potential customers to remember what they promoted.
Choose logos, charts, illustrations, cover images, and other important visual content in advance.
Execution is Everything
Planning your calendar is the first step — now it’s time to execute it. As the Chinese proverb goes, “vision without action is a daydream.” Use your calendar as a point of reference for important events. Hold yourself accountable to your calendar but know that things will change along the way. Even if opportunities present themselves, budgets change, or priorities shift always keep in mind that success doesn’t just happen, it’s planned for.