receives compensation from some of the companies listed on this page. Advertising Disclosure


How to Set Up a Marketing Calendar That Actually Works

Sammi Caramela

Manage your promotional content with a schedule strategically designed for success.

  • A marketing schedule is the game plan for your company to succeed. Just like a football team needs a playbook, your company needs a marketing plan.
  • Do the initial planning to schedule marketing for the year and have the freedom to concentrate on execution and fulfillment after that.
  • Explore the many tools available to you and choose the one that is best for your organization.

Setting up a marketing calendar for your business can not only help you get organized and plan – it can also be one of the most effective ways to set up your brand for marketing success.

Think of this as a professional sports team. If you're in the NFL, chances are you're a great athlete, but you need a coach, team, playbook and practice to win the game. The same is true for marketing: You can have a great marketing tactic, but it isn't until it is practiced, tested and unified under a larger marketing strategy that it will shine.  

A marketing calendar is a great guidebook for the year ahead. To help set your team up for success when developing a marketing calendar, we're going to look at three main segments: goals, plan and execution.

Editor's note: Looking for the right project management software for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.

Goals: What do you want to achieve?

How will your marketing help you reach your business goals? What specific goals do you have for marketing? These are two key indicators that will guide your marketing calendar. Every business will have different goals, most likely tied to sales and marketing ladders into those goals.

Before you develop a calendar, make sure you are crystal clear on what business objectives your marketing will help you achieve. Then, begin to plan a marketing calendar with the tactics that will best help you reach those goals.

Plan: Setting up the plan gives you the power to leverage your time 

If you run a small and growing business, the time that you need to hit marketing hard is your busy time – and you can't focus on marketing because you are engrossed with execution. If you have taken the time to set your marketing calendar up in advance, it will roll out as planned, and you will reap the benefits of that advance planning.

What should a marketing calendar include?

In other words, what goes into the plan? According to LinkedIn Marketing, it includes tasks like scheduling blog posts, development and placement of advertising, and it includes who is responsible for the project, results, and budget. You can use a simple spreadsheet or a complex project management tool, depending on your size and the sophistication of your staff and your needs. The important thing is to track the projects, the timing, the staff investment and the outcomes. 

Execution: This is the strategic piece. 

Recurring advertising can be completed in advance, and major events such as special clearance days, or holiday promotions, should be organized well in advance and scheduled on the marketing calendar. That way, you will have the resources available to cover not only the creation of the material needed, but the manpower to fulfill the resulting business orders.

Also, when you develop that marketing calendar early in the year, it will highlight your gaps – what have you left out? Where can you add a clever campaign to differentiate your establishment from the competition?

There are numerous free and paid marketing calendars to choose from. If you are going to use one of the subscription services, make sure to sample first with a free trial. If you have a smaller business, you may be fine with a free service.

How do you organize the marketing calendar? 

The setup is the hardest part and will depend on your organizational goals and strategy. Make sure that you choose a playbook that works for your team, one that you can quarterback using your strengths. If you are a detail person, don't hesitate to have frequent reminders. If you are more of a big-picture leader, then delegate, but make sure whoever you delegate to understands the accountability they have for results. The time you invest at the beginning will pay off in those continual touchdowns throughout the year.

Don't forget the Super Bowl sale!

Image Credit: