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Regardless of how fast the industries move today, planning and preparation have never decreased in value. We can even argue that preparation has only become more important, as organizations become more knowledgeable of their market and as more competition arises. Teams that are efficient come out on top, and teams that are prepared to be efficient have even more of an advantage.
This is where a marketing calendar shines—by having a clear set of goals and activities laid out for the year, your team has a clear plan for what to plan for, who’s responsible, and when things need to get done.
What is a Marketing Calendar?
A marketing calendar is a team’s visual reference for planning marketing activities over a specific period of time, often for a given quarter or calendar year. Some refer to this as a marketing schedule, and it accounts for the various marketing channels at the team’s disposal, as well as important seasonal or cultural events that are relevant to the team’s campaigns.
5 Benefits of Creating a Marketing Schedule
The primary advantage of utilizing various project management tools like a marketing calendar is improving alignment within the team. A marketing calendar offers the following benefits:
1. Tracks actionable steps
A marketing schedule outlines all of the actionable steps that a team needs to stay on track. This keeps the team on track to meet the various milestones that are laid out for the given period.
2. Promotes collaboration
Another feature of the campaign calendar is providing clarity on the stakeholders responsible for various tasks. This gives the team clear instructions on how tasks are handed over between various teams and individuals, which optimizes the execution of the campaign.
3. Enables proactive marketing
An effective marketing calendar is a living reference for marketing teams—regular re-evaluations are performed on it, so teams can remain flexible and respond to notable changes, both internally and externally. This ensures that the campaign remains relevant to the demands of the audience and is appropriately timed to match any associated holidays or events.
4. Creates cohesive effort
Building on collaboration, an effective marketing calendar also optimizes the planning across the various channels that a team might use to run their campaigns. This is especially useful for teams that adopt an integrated marketing strategy. By visualizing the plans across various channels, teams can ensure that no one channel is overwhelmed, and all the channels are maximized to meet established goals.
5. Optimizes content planning
On top of responding to change, effective marketing schedules are set up for success in its earliest stages. Teams would do well to take note of relevant seasonal events, as well as holidays that might impact production, so other entries can be laid out accordingly on the calendar.
Types of Marketing Calendars
No universal format exists for a marketing calendar—this allows the calendar to adapt to different factors, such as the size of the team, the scale of the campaigns involved, or how many channels are in use during a given period or event. Marketing teams might then use a variety of calendars to meet their needs.
These are some of the common ways calendars are set up:
A content calendar is used to plan for a steady stream of published material. By plotting releases on a calendar, teams can spot and fill gaps and reduce volume where necessary.
A campaign calendar is an on-demand tool used to plan for specific campaigns or projects. Unlike a typical marketing schedule, which is often constrained to a given time period, a campaign calendar is focused on relationships; tasks outlined here are directed towards a specific event, like a blog post or a conference spot.
Social media calendar
Content specific to social media is often given its own calendar, especially when a team utilizes several different platforms. This is because social media tasks can often match the volume of several other forms of content combined, or social media is used to support a wide variety of other plans.
Integrated marketing calendar
A marketing schedule is critical when implementing an integrated marketing strategy because, similar to a social media calendar, multiple channels need to be managed. The marketing plan also needs to be cohesive across those channels—an integrated marketing calendar might then utilize any combination of the above or more.
How to Create a Marketing Calendar
Now that we understand the concept and importance of having a marketing calendar, here are the essential steps you can take to build one that works for your team:
1. Bring existing strategy to the table
It pays to work with what you have, which means any established goals or activities that you expect for the year are a good place to start. Take stock of any recurring initiatives that easily take a place on the calendar, as well as any prior objectives set by your team. This will allow you to anticipate opportunities, as well as potential conflicts, in the schedule you’re building. For example, you may want to reschedule certain tasks in favor of a time-sensitive campaign and its related activities.
2. Identify key dates
Building on the previous point, take note of other, emerging dates that align with your team’s objectives. Recurring events from previous plans might make sense to include in your new schedule, and external events that you want to leverage as part of your campaigns should also be added to the calendar.
3. Assign projects or identify stakeholders
Depending on the size of your team, different people might need to take charge of certain projects. For example, you might have dedicated managers for social media as well as in-person events. Tasks within these projects typically require collaboration between different team members and stakeholders as well. By having clear assignments for every item on your calendar, you also get a good picture of how evenly work is distributed among your team.
4. Break down tasks
Once your projects have been laid out on the calendar, you can start to build more detail into each one. Certain tasks might be worth breaking down into individual steps, depending on their complexity—a good candidate for this are tasks that require handover from one team member to another. This gives your entire team an accurate look at the status of every project, and it saves time when it’s time to follow up on certain deliverables.
5. Distribute events as necessary
This step is especially important when managing a content or social media calendar—the schedule gives your team a good look at how your releases are distributed across various platforms. Use this opportunity to adjust your allocation so that you neither overwhelm a certain channel or audience nor leave them starved for valuable content.
Marketing Calendar Examples
While there are multiple ways to visualize a schedule, two common formats stand out as most intuitive when creating a marketing calendar:
A standard calendar layout is the proven method for mapping out activities, especially when a team operates on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Calendar views are also advantageous for visualizing workload, as you can easily see which days are loaded with tasks or releases.
A Gantt chart, on the other hand, has become another popular choice for creating a marketing calendar. This is especially useful for teams that work on more long-term initiatives, as a Gantt chart is better suited to visualizing work that extends beyond a month compared to a typical calendar setup. A Gantt chart is also better for mapping out dependencies and other relationships, which is great for more complex projects.
Create and Execute Your Marketing Calendar with Workamajig
A marketing schedule brings your team together on the most important projects at any given time. It clarifies responsibilities, balances the scales of your marketing efforts, and ensures that resources are properly allocated to a clear set of goals. By creating a working marketing calendar, your team can come fully equipped to fulfill their respective duties, which combine to make a marketing process as seamless and as efficient as possible.
With Workamajig, the premier marketing management software, you have an all-in-one solution for effectively managing your tasks, deadlines, and resource allocations, even beyond just creating your campaign schedule. Easily adjust your schedule or modify task requirements to ensure timeliness and feasibility, and use native reporting tools to measure your progress, as well as identify and address roadblocks along the way.