If you are anything like me you often leave things until the last minute. I work best with deadlines, which is why I created a 6-month editorial and marketing calendar. This way I can plan way in advance and not feel stressed and overwhelmed the night before a special promotion is supposed to launch.
So what is a marketing calendar anyway?
A marketing calendar is a schedule of specific and targeted promotions and marketing sequences planned in advance for your business with the purpose of attracting clients.
By using a marketing calendar you can coordinate all of your marketing efforts across all online and offline platforms and also create a marketing budget that you can stick to.
Most people only market when they need new clients or more money. For your business to be successful year round you need to put your marketing efforts on the front burner and keep it cranked on high all the time.
What does marketing include?
Before you jump into creating a marketing calendar it’s helpful to understand that everything you create and put out into this world is marketing your business one way or another.
Your blog posts, Facebook posts, Pinterest pins, tweets, client testimonials, special sales on your products or services, webinars, etc. all serve to market your business to pull ideal clients towards you.
This means that nothing in your business exists in isolation. When you combine your creative efforts with your marketing calendar your business will feel a lot more organized and put together. Everything will be in synch and working for you to attract more clients across all media (online and offline) platforms.
10 Steps To Creating A 6-Month Marketing Calendar
Complete the first 3 steps before you start plotting dates on a calendar.
- Make a list of all launches, promotions and sales you’ve run in the past. Which ones yielded the best results for your business? The results don’t always have to be financial. Maybe you ran a referral contest or a Facebook commenting contest.
Identify the key campaigns that you would want to repeat and write them down with the dates that you would want to run them again.
- Make a list of all NEW promotions, specials, sales, campaigns and launches you want to offer along with suggested dates to run those. Includes pre-launch or follow up dates as well.
- Make a list of all holidays and special event dates like your birthday and Mother’s Day. Write these dates down too.
- Review all proposed marketing campaigns and dates. Do any overlap? Are there duplicate campaigns? Which campaigns resonate with you and your business goals the most? You don’t have to run all campaigns just because they are written down.
- Choose 1 campaign to run per month for the next 6 months. Or if you are planning to launch a new offering then reserve 2-3 months around the launch date and dedicate the marketing to promote the launch.
For example, if you want to launch a new program June 1st then you would organize your marketing efforts in April, May and June to be focused around the launch of this new program.
- Make a list of all marketing pieces you will be including for each marketing campaign you’ve listed. Marketing pieces include blogs, videos, audio, graphics, social media posts and outreach.
This list doesn’t need to be static and can change as you come up with new and creative ways to market each campaign. Taking time to identify what specific pieces of content needs to be created for each campaign is important so you can plan ahead and stick to your budget.
- Now plot your campaigns on your calendar. If you are using a paper calendar make sure to write in pencil. Start with your launch because one launch requires you to allocate several months of marketing towards it.
Start by writing down the day your program actually starts. Then write down the day your pre-launch promotions start, which is usually 2-4 weeks prior to the actual start date of the program.
Note all dates that content is to go live including social media posts and all important deadlines specific to this launch. Then note all content and program creation deadline dates.
- Now you have a clear picture of what work needs to be created and completed prior to the program launch. You can also clearly see any remaining open dates and times that you can plug in additional marketing campaigns.
Plot additional marketing campaigns in the open months either leading up to the launch or after the launch. It’s common to focus on one marketing campaign per month.
This marketing campaign could be as simple as creating a campaign around an epic blog post you wrote. Again, these campaigns don’t always have to revolve around sales or discounts.
- Take a step back and review. Now that you have plotted your proposed marketing plans for the next 6-months review the calendar to assess whether or not your intentions are actually doable.
Can you create that much content as quickly as you’ve mapped it out? Do your marketing efforts flow into one another creating consistency within your business? What elements can you outsource while still staying within your budget? Is this marketing calendar realistic?
- Get to work. Now you have a clear picture of all tasks you need to work on for the next 6-months. To avoid feeling overwhelmed you can break them down into weekly and daily tasks to complete based on the deadlines you’ve given yourself.
Schedule your day the night before so you know exactly what you are doing when you hit the ground running in the morning. Do your best to stick to your self-imposed schedule and avoid switching gears when a new shiny idea presents itself.
Creating a marketing calendar allows you to plan ahead, stay on budget and set realistic business goals that can be evaluated for effectiveness. Focused effort and consistent action taking will propel your business forward and allow you to determine what’s working and what you should ditch for next year.