So, you’re thinking about using a marketing calendar for your business but you’re not sure if it’s worth the effort or how exactly to go about it.

Let’s clear something up right off the bat: you DEFINITELY need a marketing calendar. No matter what business you’re in or how small it is, you need to market it and – if you’re serious about getting results – you should market with a plan.

What’s a marketing calendar?

A marketing calendar is exactly what it sounds like: a calendar that lists all the marketing activity you’re undertaking and when it’s going to happen.

Think of it as a map, plotting the journey to where you want to be in a year. Hopping into your car and setting off on a year-long road trip without a map may spell adventure and fun in real life, but in business terms it’s a recipe for meandering inefficiency.

Types of marketing activities you might schedule in your calendar:

  • social media posts
  • campaigns
  • email marketing
  • blog posts
  • events
  • PR efforts
  • press releases
  • advertising.

Where do I start?

Start with a blank 12-month calendar of course! Here’s the thing: your calendar doesn’t have to be fancy – it just has to work for you. Treat it as a working document that you update, revise, tweak and review throughout the year.

You’ll find an array of tools out there – including some excellent free ones.

Popular free options include:

  • creating your own Google Sheets spreadsheet that can be shared with your team
  • using a Google Sheets or Excel template from Hubspot

Free tools with paid upgrade options include:

If your business outgrows the tools above, you may move on to:

Once you’ve settled on your calendar tool, use it to flag all the dates that may be relevant to your business (e.g. end of financial year, Christmas, budget announcements), as well as national events, holidays and celebrations. Then start planning out your marketing content, week by week.

What are the benefits of a marketing calendar?

1. It forces you to think strategically

We don’t really need to tell you that marketing on the fly doesn’t do anyone any favours – least of all you, the time-poor business owner. It can quickly get overwhelming and confusing to conceive, write, post and track social media posts without a written strategy. It also doesn’t help your audience if your blog posts, emails, promotions and advertising are all pulling in different directions.

You want to target your audience with clear, cohesive, well-timed messaging. A marketing calendar:

  • provides a visual map for you to align your marketing with particular events or times of the year
  • allows you to plan timely, topical posts that can bring your content to new audiences
  • helps you distribute your brand’s key messages evenly across each month
  • focuses you on tailoring audience-specific content for each of your social media channels.
2. It saves you time

There’s nothing worse than scrambling for content when you’re busy. Mapping out your marketing in advance takes the pressure off when you need to use your time running your business – it’s a more efficient way of working.

3. It ensures consistency

It’s common for businesses to fall into an unfortunate “feast or famine” pattern, where they work hard at marketing but suddenly have no time for it once they become busy. Lapses in marketing activity can be detrimental to your business – if you’ve scheduled things in advance you’re ensuring that the world continues to hear from you even when you’re flat out.

4. You’ll learn from it

Twelve months on from beginning your marketing calendar, you’ll be able to look back and see what you did when, and – if you’ve been tracking costs and performance – what worked and what didn’t. There’s no better way to improve your strategy and plan your future marketing efforts.