A Marketing Planner – sometimes called a Marketing Calendar or Message Calendar – is a document that outlines what messages your business will be putting out into the marketplace, via which channels, and when. It contains specific dates of when promotions will be held and how you’re going to let people know about them. Usually it will cover the whole calendar year and provide details of all the advertising, radio spots, emails, newsletters, social media posts, and website content you plan to publish each month (or week or fortnight).
Why you should use a Marketing Planner
Creating a marketing calendar will take some time and effort to start with but is worth the investment. Having a plan in place will ensure that a steady stream of promotion will be occurring, with new content delivered into the marketplace regularly to keep your business in the minds of existing customers and attract new clients.
When things get busy or financially tight, often advertising and marketing is the first thing to be let go. However, consistent and deliberate messaging is essential in ensuring you can continue to attract business.
Planning in advance means your marketing won’t fall by the wayside when you get too busy. Investing the time at the start of the financial year (or whenever you do your planning) will save time later and ensure that potential new customers are still hearing about you even when you’re too busy to write blog posts or newsletters or post on social media.
A marketing calendar will also show you any gaps in your promotions and whether there are times when all your effort occurs together.
Having a consistent message across different channels strengthens your brand. Using a calendar allows you to see what messages about your business are in the marketplace via different channels at what times, and makes it easier to align them all to work together.
2. Strategic Messaging
Having a marketing plan also ensures your promotional efforts are intentional, working steadily towards the goal of building your brand and supporter base. Planning your campaigns in advance means you can be more strategic about your branding and what message your audience receives. Rather than an ad hoc approach where individual pieces of information are sent out with no real strategy or cohesive message, a marketing plan ensures all your channels align and work together to reinforce your message and your brand.
A messaging calendar means you can be prepared for special seasons and plan when to hold promotions related to specific events. You know when certain messages will resonate better than others and can leverage key dates to engage with your audience and work your campaigns in with traditions and events that are already part of your customers’ lives.
Aligning your promotions with key dates can also help you see when particular methods of marketing might be useful – eg. radio spots to promote an upcoming event or a blog post to follow on from a promotion and build on your following gained from that event.
Another benefit of diarizing your marketing campaigns is you can plan promotions to build on each other and take your audience on a journey, developing a picture of your brand and engaging them more with each step.
3. Team Cohesiveness
As well as the details of what messages will be on which channels through the year, a marketing calendar can include info on who is responsible for which tasks in that plan. The planner makes it easier to see who on your team is doing what, and when, and how all the individual efforts work together.
Keeping track of due dates makes it easier to avoid overlapping deadlines and communications hashed together at the last minute.
Having an outline of when different types of activity is occurring will also be helpful for budgeting your resources, both in terms of staff and finances. The calendar helps you see what resources you’re investing, in which channels, and when.