Organize Your Web Business Using a Marketing Calendar

Instead of taking your marketing efforts one week to the next, try making a marketing calendar.

A marketing calendar will serve as a roadmap from one month to the next, so you can adequately plan your marketing efforts in advance. Nothing is worse than scrambling the week before a major holiday, trying to invent a promotion. By the time you’re ready, you only have a small window to push your call to action.

Without a marketing calendar, you may find yourself playing catchup the whole year, scrambling from one promotion to the next. Better to sit back and look at the year ahead; try to look at opportunities specific to your industry. Come up with a realistic timeframe and schedule your workload from month to month.

Tools for a Marketing Calendar

Calendar App: Take the time to acquaint yourself with a good calendar application. As a Mac user, I find the native Calendar App satisfactory. It can integrate with a number of popular calendar services. If you’re a Windows user, consider Microsoft Outlook. Linux users can use Thunderbird with Lightning add-on. There are services not tied to an operating system, such as Google Calendar, Yahoo Calendar, and even Facebook. Whatever you choose, learn it well enough so you can work from it whenever you review your marketing plan. It will serve as your road map to help get you from day to day.

Evernote: When you begin your marketing strategy, you will most likely be taking a lot of notes. I find Evernote is an excellent resource for jotting down ideas and organizing them into notebooks. Each notebook is a collection of notes. I create a notebook for every month and every time I come up with an idea for a promotion, I drop the note in the notebook associated with that month. It’s a way to get through the creative process and come up with something solid to enter into the calendar. Of course, a simple pad and paper might suffice for some…

What Events to Enter in the Marketing Calendar

    • Basic Promotional Holidays:  I like to start with the basic holidays. There are actually quite a few. I enter them into the calendar even if I don’t think they’re pertinent at the time, because it’s just good to know these things.
    • Industry and Market Specific Events: If you don’t know about your industry, then it’s time to do some research. Google is your friend. Or try using a news aggregate like Feedly to browse news articles related to certain keywords or topics related to your industry or target market.
    • Regional Events: What’s going on in your area? It could have an impact on your business. Check out your local Chamber of Commerce, any Business Associations, School District Calendars, as well as local newspaper and magazine event calendars. Keep a list of events that you could take advantage of.
    • Filler Promotions: It’s possible you might find yourself with some gaps between your promotions. Try keeping a list of promotions that aren’t necessarily tied to a specific event. These could be used to fill in spaces later.

How to Use your Marketing Calendar

Once you have a list of holidays and events, its time to put them in the calendar. Entering the date and time of a holiday or event is straightforward. The power of a marketing calendar app is its ability to notify you in advance of an event. Ideally, you will set a notification far enough in advance to be able to do something about it.

In addition, you might want to consider a variety of notifications for any given event. For example, a week in advance of Black Friday, you might consider sending a newsletter. This would be a great individual calendar entry: “Send out Black Friday Newsletter”. Here are some entries you might want to consider in advance of an event

    • Send Newsletter: Perhaps schedule multiple newsletters. In calendar notes, outline the general content of the newsletter, or reference a corresponding Evernote entry, by entering a particular Evernote link.
    • Blog Post: Come up with a blog post title and brief description, or link to the written article.
    • Social Media Sharing: Set a deadline for sharing on your preferred social media channels far enough in advance for your followers to act in time.
    • Print and Digital Ads: Enter all your ad deadlines and give yourself enough notification time to allow your designer to come up with something you can approve.
    • Web Layout/Price Changes: Do you want to change your homepage or other design elements. Set a deadline for yourself in advance. Also, make sure that the promotions you intend to run are active when the should be.
    • In Shop Promotions: Start putting out promotional materials in shop to attract attention.
    • Press Release, Event Calendars: Don’t rush a press release again now that you have it in calendar. List your recipients and consider submitting your events to any appropriate event calendars.

Reevaluate Your Marketing Calendar

Don’t forget the lessons you learned from each marketing effort. Take notes of what worked and what didn’t work. Explore areas of improvement. List events that you missed or didn’t time well enough. Next year, you can refine your marketing calendar to achieve better results with less work

Weigh In: Do you have a marketing calendar? What apps do you use?