Setting up a marketing calendar for your business can not only help you get organized and plan ahead – it can also be one of the most effective ways to set up your brand for marketing success.
Think of this as a professional sports team. If you're in the NFL, chances are you're a great athlete, but you need a coach, team, playbook and practice to win the game. The same is true for marketing: You can have a great marketing tactic, but it isn't until it is practiced, tested and unified under a larger marketing strategy that it will really shine.
A marketing calendar is a great guidebook for the year ahead. To help set your team up for success when developing a marketing calendar, we're going to look at three main segments: goals, plan and execution.
How will your marketing help you reach your business goals? What specific goals do you have for marketing? These are two key indicators that will guide your marketing calendar. Every business will have different goals, most likely tied to sales, and marketing ladders into those goals.
Before you develop a calendar, make sure you are crystal clear on what business objectives your marketing will help you achieve. Then, begin to plan a marketing calendar with the tactics that will best help you reach those goals.
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When you are planning your calendar, it is more than mapping out social media posts against a monthly calendar. You should plan every marketing tactic with the intent to further your goals.
Begin to lay out your calendar against your customer buyer cycles, working backward from the end dates of any campaigns. For instance, if you want to run a back-to-school campaign, the time to start is not when kids are back in school but when parents are planning for the back-to-school season.
Your plan will include a calendar of key moments, campaigns or dates. Armed with this understanding, you can then layer in different elements of marketing to align with these moments.
Pro tip: Be sure to allow yourself enough time for revisions, hiccups or any obstacles that could stop your marketing in its tracks. Add a buffer, if for nothing more than peace of mind.
Now it's time to execute. How you set up your marketing calendar should depend on your business. Some marketing teams map out a large annual calendar and then allow each team member to manage their piece. Other marketing teams have one large calendar that everyone updates and works against. In either case, find a marketing calendar tool to help you with project management, communication and workflow, setting your team up for success.
As you build out the channels and tactics of your plan, prioritize those that will help you reach your goals based on buyer intent. Map your content out against deadlines (keeping in mind that changes and roadblocks happen), and make sure all the key players of your team know which elements they will manage.
Marketing calendars are more than just schedules of social media or blog posts. They can also include email newsletters, public relations outreach, promotions, in-person events, community relations, digital and traditional paid advertising, and so much more. Calendars will help you stay organized as you coordinate all of these moving pieces. With one succinct plan in place, your team will be ready, accountable and excited to charge forward with marketing execution – working all the while toward a cohesive goal.