Your organization’s marketing plan is important. You and your team (or your agency) have spent countless hours on researching, defining tactics, creating messaging, and most importantly, defining what all of that is going to cost. What happens next? A marketing calendar.
A marketing plan is fluid – especially when you consider digital marketing elements. When speaking with clients, I refer to digital marketing plans (and websites in general) as living, breathing, ever-evolving things. What we recommend today just might stick, but we may learn something 6 months from now that could have a major impact on the plan itself. With the unpredictability that comes with digital marketing in today’s world, how do we keep track?
Say hello to your new best friend: the marketing calendar.
For the longest time, the idea of creating a marketing calendar frustrated me. I’m very much a list-oriented/planning person, but the idea of creating a marketing calendar that would need to be reworked dozens of times did not sound productive to me. This was the case until I began working with a client in which it was necessary.
After working with this client, I realize the scope and size was unlike anything I’d ever encountered before. Not only did we need to account for all digital aspects of their marketing, but we needed to be cognizant of all the other traditional advertising that was taking place. I quickly realized that a marketing calendar could be our saving grace (this goes for us, the client, and the other marketing parties involved). Below, I’ve outlined the key benefits of creating and keeping a current marketing calendar.
Keep Stakeholders on the Same Page
On any given project, there will be several stakeholders. As an example:
- Director of Marketing
- Project Manager
- Creative Team
With so many cooks in the kitchen, a marketing calendar provides a guide of the content that is getting pushed and some scheduling around that content. For ourselves, as an example, we use a project management software called Basecamp where we fill up our marketing calendar with every piece of content we plan to push:
- Social media posts
- Blog posts
- Email newsletters
There are 9 of us at Atilus and using this calendar, any one of us can log in and get a bird’s eye view of all the marketing that is going to happen over the next 6 weeks.
Hold Parties Accountable
Holding everyone accountable is almost as important as making sure everyone knows what’s going on with your marketing plan. Marketing plans are upheld and executed by teams of people and rarely just a small group. If you take my example above of the potential stakeholders involved, there is always a place for dropping the ball.
By using a marketing calendar or even a marketing to-do list, you can hold responsible parties accountable for their share of the project.
Review Trends for Future Planning
In working with our marketing calendar, this benefit is one I found most surprising. Creating a bird’s eye view of upcoming marketing helps you realize just what it takes to execute certain activities.
Let’s take event marketing as an example. When we are marketing our own events, we typically set a standard to market a few weeks out. Before we were using a marketing calendar, we just kind of threw things at a wall and hoped that it stuck. Using a marketing calendar, however, we’re able to gain a clear picture of just how much time we need prior to an event to schedule out social posts, newsletters, etc.
On the flipside, a marketing calendar can help you review previous activities that may not have resulted in much. This can help your team decide as to whether to pursue that activity again.
Keep Your Project Manager Sane
Trust me when I say this: if you create and continue to update a marketing calendar, your project/account manager will thank you. Speaking from experience, I can say that having marketing calendars to refer back to is extraordinarily helpful when it comes time to coordinate meetings, tasks, and discussions with team members.
In closing, the idea of a marketing calendar is vital to ensure the success of any project or campaign. Are you an agency that uses marketing calendars for clients or a company that has created an in-house marketing calendar? If so, I’d love to hear what you think. Leave your thoughts in the comments!