Marketing is equal parts science and art. It’s about being nimble enough to take advantage of opportunities that present themselves. And most of all, great marketing is about planning. There are many tools available to aid your planning, but hands down, no question about the very, very best marketing tool you can’t afford to live without is…a marketing calendar.

The Marketing Calendar Powerhouse

photo courtesy of danielmoyle via Flickr

I know, you’ve got one on your desk, your phone, and your computer. But are you actively using it to help you plan your marketing? More often then not — the answer is no. Without committing to planning on a marketing calendar you will inevitably think about doing a campaign for Valentine’s Day on January 31. Or a Father’s Day campaign the week before.

They say, “When you fail to plan you plan to fail.” and at least in Marketing — it’s true. As a professional marketer, I can assure you that even with unlimited resources you simply cannot fully execute a marketing campaign in less than a week. And without a calendar and a plan, that’s often what happens.

But here’s the thing, it doesn’t take very much time, energy, or thought to create a marketing calendar. In fact, if you took the next 30 minutes to jot down some ideas, you’d be way ahead of the game. (For those of you thinking, “but things always come up at the last minute, I don’t want to miss out on doing them just because they aren’t in my marketing calendar.” It’s OK, you can still do those things, we’re just talking about reducing the number of those last minute items you’re losing sleep over.) Willing to give it a try? Well, to get you started, I’m sharing my favorite template for a marketing calendar with email subscribers. (If you’re not currently a subscriber just fill out the box below – I’ll send you a copy right away.)

30-Minute Planning on a Marketing Calendar

Once you’ve downloaded the template for the marketing calendar and opened it in Excel, grab one of the many calendars you’ve got lying around and enter every important annual event for your business onto the calendar. You can even color-code the cells if you’re feeling fancy.

Now, look at how the year lays out. If you were being strategic–how much time would you dedicate to promoting each event? A few weeks for Father’s Day? A month for Valentine’s Day? Put on the calendar the promotional periods you’re considering. Now, mark your “real” calendar for 45-60 days BEFORE the START of your promotion — that’s when you either need to be talking with your marketing agency about the upcoming promotion, or beginning to do the creative legwork yourself.

I know what you’re thinking…45-60 days before? Really? Yes. Really. Here’s why:

  • If you’re working with a marketing agency, they need time to get it into their work queue, come up with a brilliant idea, get your approval, add time for a few revisions, and get it produced, buy the media, and pre-promote it. For it to be successful, you’re going to need to get approval for the offer, train your staff, and make sure your internal systems are working at their top potential.
  • If you’re not working with a marketing agency, well…YOU have to do everything above, AND your “real” job. You’re going to need the time.

So that’s it — that’s the one marketing tool you can’t afford to live without. After all, once you’ve got the next twelve months mapped out on your Marketing Calendar, you’re going to be saving money (no more last minute rush jobs), making money (taking advantage of all those “missed” opportunities), and sleeping better…all because  you have a Marketing Calendar plan. How’s that for improving your life?

About the Author:

Tisha Oehmen

Tisha Oehmen is a professional brand strategist and a leader in the branding field. She has been named a member of the Global Guru’s Top 30 Brand Gurus. She is also the co-founder of Oregon-based Paradux Media Group and the best-selling author of the book, Finding Brand: The Brand Book Tutorial.

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  1. Jeremiah Ozment on June 18, 2012 at 11:08 am

    Honestly, I have been trying to use the Google Calendar since last few months, Now I think I can say how it really works.

    I am finding it very easy to operate and use. Is Marketing Calendar better than Google Calendar? if yes, how?

    • Tisha Oehmen on June 18, 2012 at 1:43 pm

      Jeremiah, you can use as a Google Calendar as a Marketing Calendar if you like — I just think my tool makes it easier to see a whole year at a glance.

  2. Carol Garfield on June 19, 2012 at 10:00 am

    Without my calendars, and the notebook I keep them in, my marketing efforts would be hit and miss at best. I have found that being organized helps me greatly with marketing. Ideas seem to flow more freely. Action plans fall into place easily. It’s reassuring to look at the entire year’s marketing plans and know that each of them will help me continue to grow and flourish as a small business.

    Thanks for another great post, Tisha. You and Mike are great!

    • Tisha Oehmen on June 19, 2012 at 10:06 am

      Thanks so much Carol! I agree, I always find such satisfaction in looking at an annual marketing plan, and calendaring is such a key component to it — but so often overlooked.

      Love your updates on Facebook! I really need to get over and visit your shop sometime very very soon. 🙂

  3. Glenn on October 26, 2012 at 1:10 am

    Hi Tishia,

    Thanks so much for taking the time to share the info. Sometimes its the simple ideas that are the best.

    I have been as guilty as others about not planning properly, I can remember a few instances where the planner would have been of great help.

    All the very best,

    • Tisha Oehmen on October 26, 2012 at 12:06 pm

      Thanks for reading the blog Glenn, and for taking a moment to comment! I have to admit, half the time I write blogs, it’s to remind MYSELF that I should be doing something, we all often lose strategy in the face of expediency.

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