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How Do You Plan A Marketing Calendar

by Arthur Zuckerman

If you’ve been in marketing for some time, you know your day is often chaotic. You’re constantly staring at a never-ending list of growing team responsibilities, social media posts, publishing and optimizing blog post topics, and hitting email newsletter goals

To stay on top of your goals and track them, you need a system like a marketing calendar that gives you the big picture of what is possible and what is not. This centralized system lets you map your goals, set them into clusters, plan out the details for campaigns and ensure they are in sync with your marketing goals.

Let’s take a look at each of these steps, but first, let’s understand what a marketing calendar is.

What is a Marketing Calendar, and How is it Useful

A marketing calendar puts all your marketing activities together, so it is easy to plan, organize, and execute your marketing campaigns. It lets you align your marketing goals with your marketing campaigns.

Among many things, one benefit is it helps centralize strategy so different marketing teams can execute their campaigns efficiently and in sync. This keeps you a step ahead in preparing the right kind of campaigns that resonate with your audience. And because your team follows the marketing calendar, there are fewer hiccups as you accommodate several events and activities involving your audience. 

These events are often planned at the start of the year, including a quarter and month plan. This makes it easy to track the events as they happen. Another benefit is that you no longer rely on ad hoc ideas or inspiration to educate and inform your users. Pre-planned activities give your team the confidence to execute the plans. It also allows the team to voice their opinion, nurturing a healthy work environment.

Another reason to have a marketing calendar is that most activities will have an overlap of teams. You can track accountability with the marketing calendar at your disposal.

Step 1: Start With Your Goals

Plan your marketing calendar with the end goal. What do you need to achieve to make this marketing activity a success? Do you want more leads, sales, or brand awareness? Based on your end goals, then decide how you will achieve them.

For example, sales can be an outcome of short-term aggressive sales tactics or carefully planned content marketing over a set period. Depending on your timeframe, you can decide which goals are achievable in the short-term (quarterly) or long-term (annual).

Then move on to the next step of picking the products or services that will help you meet these goals. Is launching new products the way to achieve your goals, or can a price increase aid this growth?

Next, assess the resources that will take you there. Can your existing resources work, or will you hire new people to pave the way for better performance?

If you do not have an in-house development team, account for the costs involved with outsourcing development. Also, factor in the cost of doing so without exceeding your budget.

Once your goals are in place, decide on the relevance of the goals to your company goals and then set up metrics to keep track of the goals. This way, you know it is measurable and can be accounted for as you near the end of the goal period.

Step 2: Cluster Your Campaigns

Once you have all your goals in the marketing calendar, divide them into separate campaigns based on priorities. You can do this based on different attributes like events (Halloween, Black Friday, and World Cup). These events let you improve brand awareness and create a bond with your users.

If you’re aiming for new launches (a new homepage, a new blog, or rebranding), then put them in a different category so that you can go back and trace the steps that worked and didn’t once the launch is over.

Another way to cluster campaigns is by channel (mainly for branding channels all year through). Maybe you decide TikTok is a new platform to invest in. So you could dedicate a month’s calendar for TikTok activities alone – this could include building out this channel and promoting this one from other channels.

Step 3: Plan Allocations

You do not have to go 100% on a marketing calendar since there are a lot of variables that will need you to pivot your strategy. Instead, your marketing calendar should pick one or two core objectives for each quarter and plan for this. 

It could be 60-70% of your overall campaign, and the rest will be ad hoc based on the need of the hour. Your core objectives could be on what needs attention in that quarter. It could email subscriber growth, brand safety, and awareness via your blog, or social visibility on your desired channel. Each of these must be tied to your sales and profitability goals. Use metrics to measure these objectives and keep track. 

Ad hoc campaigns could be things like your country winning the world cup, or a celebrity wedding, or a major news event that would require a marketing budget. 

Besides these, there are other ‘evergreen’ campaigns that you may continue running on the side. For example, if you have an email newsletter that brings a lot of your conversions, you will have to continue investing in advertising the landing pages, acquiring subscribers, and nurturing them. 

Step 4: Work Out Details of Each Campaign 

Each campaign will have its goals, resources, tasks, and trackers. Depending on its priority, some campaigns may need attention from everyone on the team, while others might need only one person to be involved. 

Irrespective of the roles, it is essential to make the marketing calendar accessible. For this, use visual charts that simplify the task of studying the campaign and making sense of it. Utilize the ease with which you can communicate essential criteria in your campaigns through visual charts.

Benefits of Visual Charts and Their Role in Your Marketing Calendar 

Visual charts work well to represent all the elements in the chart in a pictorial manner. They help comprehend the large volume of data helping in decision-making. This, in turn, saves time and resources that you can utilize for other marketing initiatives.

Some often-used visual elements include pie charts, line charts, Kanban boards, and stacked bar charts. Among these, pie, line, and stacked bar charts represent data visually. However, if you’re looking for a detailed visual map that includes various project elements, then Gantt Charts are the best choice. 

How Gantt Charts Can Help in Projects 

A Gantt chart keeps track of project milestones, team members, duration, and deliverables. It is a helpful project management tool to optimize your project performance by visualizing the stage of each project, understanding where it is stuck, and analyzing the bottlenecks. 

Source: Slideteam

Often these Gantt charts can be made in your existing project management tool or a word document. Because of the accessibility, it is easy to share with your team, fastening the process of collecting opinions and ideas quicker than usual and allowing your projects to be flexible within the set timeline.

Sync all Communication Channels 

Centralize your marketing planning so that all your communication channels are in sync. If your goal is to capitalize on Black Friday, you may have planned this at the start of the year, ensuring your budgets and resources will give you the much-needed momentum. Prepare your communication channels to cash in on this momentum. Find ways to sync your digital and offline medium for broader reach. It allows customers to find you when they need your product or service.

Also, check your digital channels, ensuring your social media, email, and apps all guide your customers to your primary campaign or Black Friday deals. This way, your resources are optimized to improve traffic to it and boost conversions.

Don’t forget the details like CTAs and email signatures. Your content may be of high quality. But without relevant CTAs, most customers will fail to take advantage of the campaign offers.

Also, ensure all email signatures within an organization promote the new product during the specific launch campaign. This way, your content promotes your product or service without an aggressive sales push. 

Source: Moosend

And if you’re running ads, don’t forget to engage with readers browsing your offers. This way, they get to know, like, and trust your brand.

Over to You

Setting up a marketing calendar can streamline your marketing activities. It provides a roadmap to the entire team on your marketing goals and achievements. While it is a blueprint, it is also flexible enough to incorporate special events as they occur. 

Avoid taking on too many objectives. Instead, focus on a select few and aim for its success by carefully planning the channels that can give your maximum impact and revenue. Let them be aligned with your organization’s revenue goals. 

Remember to keep your evergreen campaigns running and equip your team with visual or Gantt charts to keep them on track. Take advantage of every opportunity to reach out to your customers via CTAs, customer support, and email signatures while syncing your communication channels for maximum reach and impact.

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