A marketing calendar is an essential tool for any modern business that wants to increase its online presence and boost brand visibility. Typically structured as a scheduled plan of what an agency intends to accomplish throughout a particular time period, marketing calendars are key for remaining organized and on track toward your goals. With such components as important dates, events and milestones, marketing calendars can also help you keep track of special occasions your team won’t want to miss.
With reminders set weeks or months in advance, marketers and advertisers know what to expect going forward. It's not just about dates, however. From budgets to content, and even the audience your team is targeting -- all can be a factor when creating your marketing calendar. But even if you include all these core elements, how do you know if the calendar is set up correctly or efficiently in order to meet your goals?
Knowing how to put together an effective marketing calendar is not always easy. To help, six professionals from Ad Age Collective share their experience and knowledge about creating an effective marketing calendar regardless of industry and stage of development.
1. Build in space for opportunity.
It is important to map out your marketing calendar using audience insights and to keep pace with marketing and channel trends, but even more important is to leave room for opportunities as they come. If you've been too rigid in planning every channel opening with content too far out, you won't have a space for unforeseen opportunities and your plans will need to shift. - Holly Fearing, Filene Research Institute
2. Diversify your messaging strategy.
Your products and services are only a fraction of why your audience sticks around on social. If they’ve been with you for long, they already know your hero products. So, switch out the specs for lifestyle and storylines. By diversifying your messaging strategy, you provide new value that hooks new customers and retains returners. - Kelly Ehlers, Ideas That Evoke
3. Consider your customer's buying cycle.
Take into account your customer's buying cycle, or the seasonality. For many products, there are distinct rhythms to the purchase process, so you generally want to be most active right before and during peak purchasing times. During those times, lower-funnel activities like promotions are often effective. During the "off-season" you can consider running some upper-funnel initiatives such as awareness building. - Dan Beltramo, Onclusive (formerly AirPR)
4. Allow for flexibility.
Flexibility must be built into any marketing calendar, especially today. With consumers, employees and customers all having a voice in the social zeitgeist, a marketing calendar must have a level of flexibility to pivot and address change in a speedy manner. Brands must find the right message based on what is happening in the world, and not ignore audiences. - Maggie O'Neill, Peppercomm
5. Tap into trending topics.
One of the most important categories in today's volatile world is "trending today." A calendar is meant to proactively plan outreach based on internal activities, milestones and societal events. But it is only half done until it accounts for "in the moment" events, which are unpredictable. The unfolding of these events has a direct impact on the tone, the message and the positioning of the brand and its business decisions. - Raashee Gupta Erry, UPLEVEL - Digital Media Consulting
6. Consider your capacity to create content.
Great content isn't just about timing on a consistent cadence or slotting it into relevant micro-seasonalities. You also need to consider your organization's capacity so that producers have enough time to produce excellent, on-strategy, integrated content to magnify potential reach and impact. Planning ahead should help avoid a pile-up of work onto busy people with ad hoc tasks that take mindshare. - Reid Carr, Red Door Interactive