How to build a kickass marketing calendar

by Catherine Woodside
09 February 2017
How to build a kickass marketing calendar
Where should you start when planning a year of marketing? Here are some top tips to help you schedule your upcoming marketing activities.

Whether it’s the latest viral meme, hashtag, or noteworthy news item, marketing tied to timely events is a great way to jump on trending topics (thanks social media).

But be warned.

Businesses that rely solely on this reactive style of marketing miss the huge opportunities available to those who plan ahead.

The benefits of campaign planning

There’s no doubt that reactive marketing can drive awareness.

Consider the much-quoted Oreo's reactive 'You can still dunk in the dark' message. Published in real-time in the middle of a blackout during the 2013 Superbowl, the tweet was re-tweeted more than 15,000 times and received more than 20,000likes on Facebook.

Effective brand awareness? Yes it was. But, if you're hoping to drive customers through the sales funnel to purchase, a structured campaign with targeted messages for the audience at every step of the customer journey will be more effective.

Creating a marketing schedule gives you the ability to:

  • Schedule your marketing campaigns (and avoid overlapping messaging).
  • Produce variations on your communications to target different audiences.
  • Use a variety of channels (some of which require more lead time than others).

So, how do you go about creating a marketing schedule? We’ve broken down the three issues you must consider when building your marketing schedule so you can make the most of the year ahead.

Step one: Identify key dates in your calendar

The time of year you engage with your customer will affect the types of conversations you have with them, so make sure you schedule your campaigns around dates that align with your products and are meaningful to your buyers.

Key national and local dates

Scan your calendar and take note of key dates such as public holidays, like Anzac Day and Australia Day; important periods, including the summer holidays,Christmas, or even tax time. Don’t forget local dates, including fairs or the beginning of the school year.

Ask yourself: Do any key calendar dates obviously relate to a service or product mybusiness offers? If yes, there is an opportunity for you to tactfully link your business with the public holiday or event.

Promotions or product announcements

As a business, it's likely you have already identified which products or services you will be focusing on in the year ahead. When and how many campaigns you run will largely be dictated by which products have the biggest revenue targets.

Bullseye: Develop a more targeted approach to letterbox marketing

The length of salescycle for each product is another key consideration. You don’t want to leave a campaign for a product that typically takes six to 12 months to convert until the end of the financial year if your revenue target is in this financial year.

Consider running a promotion that coincides with a key calendar date. A discount on camping gear, for instance, might make the most sense ahead of the summer holidays. In the same vein, if you are launching a new product, consider which date will be the most meaningful for your target audience.

Internal and external events 

Do you hold annual events? Do you participate in an industry-wide conference? Whether you want to encourage attendance numbers or use the relationship to build on your reputation, consider communicating with your database well ahead of the event. Keep in mind that while events are a great way to bring customers together, it usually takes multiple communications (invitations, RSVPs, reminders etc.) to get people to attend.

Step two: Address the ‘who’ and ‘why’

With your dates selected, it’s time to better understand your customers. Develop a set of buyer personas that include basic profiling information– age, gender, socio-economic status, job title – as well as:

List the following:

  • Where they go for information (print, online, radio, TV, social media etc.)
  • Their goals and aspirations – and how your business can help them achieve them
  • Their values and beliefs – and how your business aligns with them
  • Their worries and problems – and how your business can help resolve them
  • Their possible objections to the sales process

Make your personas as detailed as possible so you can target your campaigns accurately and get your message in front of the most relevant, and receptive,audience. By understanding your target audience, you can understand how and when to communicate with them.

Step three: Pick your marketing approach and build in lead time

With your key dates in mind and your audiences identified, consider which platforms you could use to reach your customers. Different platforms are suited to different audiences (your personas should guide you here) and they have different production requirements (letterbox campaigns need to include time for print and distribution, for example, while online and social media need a 'bank' of messages and a regular publishing schedule).

You should also consider any other campaigns you (or your competitors) are running,to avoid ‘spamming’ your audience with too much mail, email or other messages.

Final thoughts

Building a marketing schedule may seem restrictive, but in the long run it actually gives you more freedom. Once you have your ‘bread and butter’ campaigns locked in, you are freed up to be reactive and respond to timely events as you know that the long-term objectives are covered.

In addition, by planning ahead you have the ability to explore different communications channels – some of which you may not have had time to use previously. Letterbox, SMS, email, take the opportunity to try new mediums.

Want to reach more customers? Get a quote or call us on 1300 725 628.

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About the author
Catherine Woodside
Head of Media Sales

Catherine has 20 years of media experience working with a variety of media solutions from newspapers, magazines, letterbox and digital offerings. Her background stems from two distinct sales areas: media sales, selling solutions to major advertisers and consumer sales, selling media to the end consumer through retail and subscription packages.

More articles by Catherine Woodside