A 2021 marketing calendar is more than a well-orchestrated to-do list. It’s a lifeline for rescuing your opportunities. You and I constantly strive to align what we want or need with what we get. In this case, aligning how you can serve others through what’s important to them is the very strategy that sets you free.
Shared storylines are where your brand's and customer's shared interests and shared spaces intersect. They have power to further your connections with the world around you. By planning ahead for these intersections, you’ll be better prepared to visualize future opportunities and capture those that arise spontaneously.
Start planning for your opportunities with a 2021 marketing calendar template that's propelled over five years of brand development workshops.
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1. Pace and prioritize your efforts for a proactive peace of mind
A marketing calendar is a quick-glance plan that charts your marketing activities over the course of a year. It reveals the pacing for your efforts, but more importantly, it should guide your prioritization of efforts. When you start populating the calendar with your larger brand activities, be ready to think about the volume and timing of supporting activities. This may lead you to modify the timing of lower priority activities during busier months. Or, if they must be completed, you will have a basis for increasing personnel or freelance support.
2. Encourage a holistic awareness between internal and external elements impacting business growth
When you explore the occurrences and trends relevant to your business, industry and customers, you're more likely to discover relevant content opportunities. Media outlets, influencers and your customers may have more awareness for a specific topic during a specific timeframe. If you activate marketing efforts within these popular timeframes, you can benefit from increased visibility.
Think about the increase of pumpkin spice options during autumn or healthy heart initiatives during February. There tends to be more momentum around marketing activities that occur within popular timeframes. However, there's also room to build your own momentum outside of those timeframes. Just be ready to work smarter.
While your overall annual or quarterly content themes should reflect cultural creed words like safety, convenience, and inspirational, your monthly themes can settle in upon products/services and relevant external trends.
3. Inspire usage of marketing channels that are optimal for your business
There's a season for everything and popular marketing channels vary over time. Selecting a popular marketing channel may make sense for your business. After all, you want to meet your customers where they are — using the marketing channels that interest them. However, when you think through all of your channel options, you may discover strengths among your employees or creative team that make an alternative channel more original and engaging.
4. Research best practices and benchmarks for improved alignment of expectations
Once you begin identifying the channels you'll use, the exact tactics, creative direction, frequency and quantity of those activities come into play. Mindfully researching similar tactics, especially those in your specific industry, provides guidelines for reducing roadblocks and defining success. Knowing what a certain channel and tactic might be able to accomplish (or demand) helps you frame more realistic expectations. Additionally, it gives you data that can help you decide whether to invest in a different channel altogether. When those impromptu marketing opportunities come up, your benchmarks and metrics provide a clearer rationale for whether you should integrate that opportunity or turn it down.
Mailchimp provides in-depth benchmark data for email campaigns, by industry. See their recent report.
A leader at Simplus, a global Platinum Salesforce Partner, has done an incredible job of assembling benchmarks across multiple channels. Read the LinkedIn article.
5. Develop greater understanding and control over your investments of money and talent
Comparing your ideal marketing activities setup alongside budgeting options gives you insights on where you could trim expenses and where it may be better to bulk up your resources.
6. Propel your project management
After your marketing calendar is complete, you will have an incredible resource for outlining project management steps. I recommend a management tool like Asana. Map out the tasks in reverse, beginning from the project due date. Add padding for unexpected delays.
Too often, days and months slip by. Make the time to step out in front of your opportunities with a 2021 marketing calendar. Then, make time to celebrate all of the good you create with it.