Making a Marketing Calendar for Advertising Success

Your marketing calendar and your desktop calendar are not one and the same. If you’re looking at June and thinking “end of school, start of summer”, you’re thinking in terms of real time and not in terms of marketing. To be effective, your marketing campaigns should be planned well in advance of seasonal events and occasions. If you carry swimming gear, for example, everyone should already know about the great deals you have going on. If you’re just now starting to advertise your cool new flotation devices, you’re too late.

What is a marketing calendar?

Just like your normal calendar helps you keep track of important dates and plan your activities, your marketing calendar helps you keep track of your marketing campaigns and plan them. Your marketing calendar can provide you with an overview of your different campaigns, help you prioritize your activities, and allow you to track your progress or amend as necessary. It’s a useful tool for keeping your marketing on schedule and for jotting down ideas. Plus, it’s simple. All you need for a marketing calendar is a spreadsheet app like Excel, Numbers, or Google Spreadsheets. The latter is easy to share with your team so you can ensure everyone is on the same page.

What should be on a marketing calendar?

Depending on your industry, you may want to focus on different things. If you have a seasonal business like a landscaping company, for example, you’ll want to ensure you note your busy times so you can plan to market before the weather turns nice.

To start, list the months across the columns of your spreadsheet. On the following line, you may want to indicate which “season” it is for your business. For example, a kid’s clothing retailer may focus on Easter finery, summer wear, back to school, and holiday clothes and pajamas. By aligning these industry-specific seasons with the months, you can better plan when to launch particular campaigns. That way, Mom gets the Easter clothes coupon before she’s gone shopping for Sara’s dress. She’ll know you have what she’s looking for and that she can get a great deal. Events are also important to note.

Once you have the months and seasons down, you can consider how you’ll be marketing your services or products. Does your real estate firm print a yearly mortgage primer for potential buyers? Do you know you need new yard signs before everyone starts selling their homes in the summer? Do you like to send out a back to school postcard a month before classes are back in session? On your calendar, your rows will signify the different materials you need printed. For example, let’s say you have two trade shows, one in March and one in October. You can either have your sell sheets and brochures printed up in February to ensure everything looks good, or you can print some up in February and then revise with any feedback received at the March Tradeshow and run a separate printing in September before the second show.

Whether you want to print a bimonthly newsletter for your clients, send out a postcard, or refresh your menu every season, having a marketing calendar can help you ensure you take the necessary actions to complete your marketing in a timely fashion. Knowing that you want to print your brochure in February, you can start planning, writing, and sourcing images in January so you are prepared.

A marketing calendar is especially beneficial during the busy holiday season. Many companies have large fourth quarter earnings and are busy from Thanksgiving to New Years. Those companies must have a good understanding of their sales cycle to ensure their marketing is out in time to benefit the business. Sending out Christmas coupons two weeks before Christmas rarely provides the ROI most businesses want. In fact, many companies plan to have holiday newsletters, catalogs, and coupons out in early November. That means it is necessary to start planning in October (or even September) for holiday marketing.

A marketing calendar can help you ensure you’re running your campaigns at the most optimal times. To ensure all your marketing looks good, be sure to partner with a local commercial print shop that understands your needs. Together, you can create marketing campaigns that truly speak to your target audience. If you’re ready to craft your next campaign, we’re happy to help.