Marketers, you need to here this: October through December should be spent planning for the next year. Not that you don’t have enough on your plate between creating and deploying myriad holiday campaigns and doing end-of-year reporting. But if you want to be strategic, now is the time to work on your budget, plan ahead, and create a calendar.
What is a marketing calendar and why are they important?
Simple everyday tasks such as social media posts often get in the way of growing a business. And yet, engaging on social and sending out emails are highly important. Time management is crucial to the success of any company and without advance planning marketing activities often become an afterthought. A marketing calendar is perfect for setting you up for easy execution of campaigns.
A marketing calendar is an effective tool for small business and large corporations alike. It can be a monthly, quarterly, or annual calendar that maps out dates and details about your marketing plan. It should delineate your company’s goals and purpose with details on how you will convey your message or sell your product or services to your target audience.
Used properly, a marketing calendar can lead to more efficient use of your time and work. Say, for example, you send out a monthly newsletter. Knowing ahead of time when you have to create, write, and then distribute it means you can allocate the appropriate time and deadlines for details (including selecting what to feature, gathering necessary assets, and choosing your audience). Assigning tasks ahead of time means work will be done in a timely way and without stress.
Now for the good stuff:
What goes into creating a successful marketing calendar?
A marketing calendar is best if it is specific and spells out individual promotions and events. I’m talking in-person events, ad campaigns, public relations, social media content, email newsletters, and blog posts. They can all be planned in ONE calendar.
Follow these steps before diving in:
- Take note of your budget. Budget plays a big role on how you market your product or service so take a good look at what you have to work with so you don’t overspend.
- Review your annual marketing plan. It will be so much easier to create your marketing calendar if you have read over your company’s marketing plan, which outlines what strategies will be used throughout the year.
- Identify your target audience. Your efforts can’t be effective if you don’t know your audience! Who are you hoping to appeal to? If you need to, revisit your buyer personas.
- Assemble your team. Know who will do what, when, and why. Then narrow down the necessary roles and brainstorm who will help complete each project.
- Choose a calendar format. A basic marketing calendar can be created in Excel or Google Spreadsheet. There are also many free templates available online, like this one from CoSchedule.
- Mark off holidays, days off, vacation. This is an easy first step to filling out your marketing calendar.
- Research key months for marketing or selling cycles. Knowing the seasonality of the products or services you offer will ensure you’re promoting during key times that potential customers are looking for your type of offer.
- Choose topic themes. Start by brainstorming. What kinds of things does your audience want to see? Where do you make the most revenue?
- Map your content on the calendar.
Include these elements:
- the title/name of each project, event, campaign promotion
- the deadline
- who is assigned to manage each project
- who will assist in the project or be assigned to specific roles
- space for notes (about if and how the marketing campaign was successful and ways to improve)
Be flexible and adjust as needed!
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Not only is a marketing calendar crucial to managing brand consistency, it’s vital to managing customer engagement. You want your marketing efforts to be as successful as possible, right? A well-designed marketing calendar will ensure you’re working towards effective marketing campaigns throughout the year. It’s a great asset to have in your marketing toolbox as it keeps you on track and serves as a blueprint for what messaging your will use and what channels you will use to distribute it.
If you’re stressed just thinking about January 2019 or don’t have the time and resources to plan your marketing calendar, drop us a line.