How to Create A Marketing Calendar That Actually Works
A comprehensive, detailed marketing calendar is truly the secret weapon for any ecommerce brand’s success, yet relatively few businesses actually use it. You would be surprised at how many companies run promotions, campaigns, advertising, and marketing emails without advanced planning, let alone coordination among all departments. The result is chaos, inefficiency, and running your company by looking in the rear view mirror. Want to know how businesses set a revenue goal and then actually hit it? It’s by reverse engineering that goal in the form of a marketing calendar that provides a clear plan and quick organization.
In this post, we’ll explain why a marketing calendar is the gold standard for literally everything your audience will see. We’ll also show you 1) how it’s going to make you serious money, 2) how to use our easy marketing calendar template (the one we use for several 8- and 9-figure businesses), and 3) how to get your whole team on board with this process. Let’s go!
Why a Marketing Calendar is Worth Its Weight in Gold
This isn’t just another Google sheet that will get lost in the shuffle. This is a valuable tool. Let’s find out what a comprehensive marketing calendar can do for your team…
1. Keeps Teams in Sync
When marketing, product development, fulfillment, customer service, and any other team you have under your roof work together, your company will be at its best. If everyone is on the same page about what is happening when, events are a powerful, coordinated effort. Activities such as email marketing, social posts, and paid advertising will actually build on each other so you can make more revenue. If teams operate in isolation from each other, the messaging will vary and the timing of each type of communication will not be optimal, creating a haphazard promotion.
2. Promotes Organization
Having a multi-channel marketing calendar keeps your business organized. It provides one hub to list any and all events plus the communication, creative assets, and more that come with it. This means each team will have a systematic process to know what is expected of them. It will also inform you of whether you need additional resources (such as extra customer service) for a big promotion. Additionally, it’ll ensure that multiple events don’t happen too close together.
3. Creates Efficiency
Teams should never find out about a promotion that marketing planned last minute and have to scramble to prepare for it. Chaos is expensive. The more organized you are, the less money you will waste. A unified marketing calendar will allow your teams to know what’s coming up and prepare for it, six to twelve months in advance.
4. Provides a Plan for Success
You likely have business goals which will only be achieved by revenue from sales. How do you make those sales? Through marketing. But how do you ensure that your marketing brings consistent sales without blowing your entire budget out of order? This is where a marketing calendar comes in. Intentionally planning the year out in full is the only way to ensure you will meet your goals efficiently. If you don’t plan to succeed, you plan to fail.
Honestly, a step-by-step plan for success will not only ensure you hit your goals, but it will put your mind at ease throughout the year. There’s nothing more stressful— or irresponsible— than flying by the seat of your pants month to month, hoping that inherent yearly growth will help you hit all of your goals.
Take time to look at the promotions and events you ran last year and how much revenue you made. Then, slot in your events for this year according to what worked last year, with extra boosts to help meet your goals. What additional marketing can you leverage to get the word out about your 4th of July sale? Do you need to put out additional product closer to the holidays to incentivize more purchases near Christmas? If you have a goal of increasing revenue by X% this year, January is the time to figure out how to make that happen across the year. Don’t wait to plan until Q4.
How to Create a Multi-Channel Marketing Calendar
The biggest problem we’ve found with marketing calendars is that they are complicated and difficult to use. Because of that, most teams won’t ever fully get on board with implementing them. And then they die in the graveyard of other rejected Google docs.
Fortunately, we’ve found a way to keep it simple and we’re going to break it down for you here.
We use a Google Sheet for our calendar template— it’s a Google doc that every team lead has access to. To make it easy for you, you can download the template we use every day for free! If you don’t like Google docs or sheets, Airtable might be a good alternative for you.
When building out your calendar, dates will list down the first left column, and events will be listed in the second column. This includes product launches, promotions, holidays, and any other event relevant to your business.
Across the top, you will list all marketing channels and/or departments. Include any and all channels, such as:
- Paid Facebook & Instagram
- Google Ads
- Organic social content (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter)
- Email marketing
- Blog posts
- Fulfillment / Customer Service
- Retail partners (if applicable)
In the cross-section, you will itemize what each channel or team will need, including the time it goes live and a summary of messaging to be used. Here’s a quick example of what that could look like:
Here’s our Marketing Calendar Google Sheet Template
If you follow these guidelines, you will have a calendar that acts as the main hub for your entire team to reference and to make sure all of their deliverables are ready on time. If an event changes, be sure to mark it on the calendar and notify all team leads.
Click here to download the standard template we use every day and start customizing for your business!
How to Get All Teams on Board
Your marketing calendar will only be effective if all department leaders use it. So how do you get this process started?
The best way to get all teams on board with the marketing calendar is to have a meeting each quarter with the leaders of all departments. In that meeting, you will plan all of your events for the coming quarter (preferably the next several months), deciding when they will happen and what will be needed for each. Make it a goal to finalize the calendar before you leave, and then reassess each quarter.
Who should be included in this meeting?
- Leadership and/or stakeholders
- All marketing specialists (social media, PPC, email marketing, etc)
- Product development team (especially if you’re planning to launch new products)
- Finance (for budgeting)
- Fulfillment (Must make sure you have the ability to ship the amount of products being sold)
- Customer service. (This is your front line and must be fully informed at all times.)
- Wholesale. (If you use wholesale, your retail partners need to be aware of promos well in advance.)
- Creative team
- Tech and development team. (It’s critical to make sure your website is actually capable of the types of promotions you choose to run.)
This is the type of meeting many prefer to avoid for the sake of time, but it is important for identifying potential conflicts and coming up with proactive solutions. Coming together to put dates on the calendar will help identify whether promos feel too close together, if there are any issues with getting product or fulfillment ready for promos, or if there are opportunities being missed.
Looking to develop a marketing program that creates REAL success and major sales? Reach out to us below. We have over 10 years of experience driving revenue growth for some of the most influential DTC brands in the world.