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
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?