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From housing the details for current campaigns to delegating tasks and tracking deadlines, marketing calendars can help businesses achieve goals in an organized and effective way. — Getty Images/PixelsEffect

Creating a marketing calendar for your business provides the marketing team with a guide for campaign timing, analysis, and more. Marketing calendars can become complex quickly, however, so teams should develop a plan that is clear in structure while still covering all their needs. Here’s a step-by-step guide to creating a marketing calendar for your business.

What is a marketing calendar?

Marketing calendars are an essential tool used for planning marketing projects. A marketing calendar proves especially useful to teams with multiple campaigns — it offers a central location to plan, schedule, track, and analyze progress.

Marketing calendars serve several functions, including:

  • Serving as an accessible, single source of information for all team members.
  • Providing details on what campaigns are currently in progress.
  • Delegating project managers and assigning project deadlines.
  • Holding teams accountable and keeping projects on time and on track.

In addition to the above benefits, compiling project information into a marketing calendar decreases stress for the team by keeping everyone focused and accountable, while also providing latitude to create better deliverables.

[Read more: How to Build a Small Business Content Strategy]

Your marketing goals will serve as a guidepost for the end result. Goals will differ by company based on team size and industry, but each goal set should have a measurable outcome with attainable progress points along the way.

How to create a marketing calendar

Following these five steps can help you create and launch a marketing calendar for your business.

Step 1: Choose your marketing calendar tool.

Small businesses using one or two marketing platforms may need a less robust marketing calendar tool and can use a simple spreadsheet to house all the information they need. Organizations utilizing three or more marketing platforms, serving multiple audiences, and looking to meet several marketing goals will benefit from a marketing calendar tool with flexibility and integration.

For teams of any size and need, the chosen marketing calendar tool should be accessible to and utilized by all members of a team to ensure data remains updated.

Step 2: Define your goals.

Your marketing goals will serve as a guidepost for the end result. Goals will differ by company based on team size and industry, but each goal set should have a measurable outcome with attainable progress points along the way. Common goals may include:

  • More web traffic.
  • Increased number of conversions.
  • Garnering more brand awareness.
  • Securing social media mentions.

Based on the determined objective, marketing calendars can illustrate progress with subtasks, project due dates, and highlighting the most-involved team members.

[Read more: 10 Goal-Setting Methodologies for Entrepreneurs]

Step 3: Identify marketing strategies and channels

There are multiple marketing methods you can consider when building your strategy, including content marketing, email marketing, social media marketing, pay-per-click marketing, and search engine marketing.

Once you’ve decided on a marketing strategy, look at the channels where you already have an established presence versus the ones you’ll want to adopt. For the existing channels you use, your strategy may be different than the strategy you’ll use for entering onto a new platform.

Step 4: Be prepared to be flexible

Depending on the amount of detail needed in the calendar, the creator(s) can schedule one year out — with a lot of open room to shift campaigns — or focus things on the more immediate future, such as the next quarter, month, or even week. The further out a marketing calendar extends, the more malleable it should be to account for business changes, current events, and other unforeseen circumstances.

Step 5: Create your content and campaigns

When creating content to set campaigns, including dependencies in your marketing calendar helps track progress and identify potential bottlenecks in the process. Details to include in the marketing calendar include:

  • Headings.
  • Hashtags to use.
  • Due dates.
  • Project managers or involved team members.
  • Current status.

[Read more: 10 Best Ways to Grow Your Business with Content Marketing]

Marketing calendars afford teams the flexibility and bandwidth to see campaigns at a high level, identify goals, track progress, and more. Teams ready to take control of their marketing campaigns should follow the five steps above to create a marketing calendar that fits their business needs and goals.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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