Product marketing calendars: Everything you need to know
Product marketing is hard, and it’s not getting easier any time soon.
Remember back when you never needed a product marketing calendar? Back then, your marketing budget was a few thousand bucks, a few tweets, and maybe a few banner ads.
Well, marketing can become complicated fast. Especially when a startup grows, and you now have to juggle between multiple existing products, new product launches, loyal audiences, and prospects all across different channels.
There’s More To a Marketing Calendar than the Bottom-line
A product marketing calendar is necessary for a flourishing and profitable business. However, it’s also crucial for a marketing team’s mental health and wellbeing.
Marketing managers can relate to this at a personal level. Making phone calls, closing tabs, organizing teams, narrowly meeting deadlines, editing blogs, no beer, cookouts, and company. This, friends, is the depression that created the Joker.
It doesn’t always have to be this way. As a marketing manager, you can only do so much; that’s why you need a product marketing calendar.
What’s a Marketing Calendar?
A marketing calendar is a content marketing tool that marketers use to plan and outline their marketing strategy.
By organizing your marketing efforts by date, it takes all the what, when, where, and why of marketing in a company and simplifies into something every marketer can understand.
You no longer have to pace up and down hallways or make calls in the middle of the night. It’s no longer your role to remind a content creator of due dates or an editor who forgot it’s their turn.
It’s all on the calendar.
Why You Need A Marketing Calendar
SEO this, SEO that, content marketing here, content marketing there.
Without a marketing calendar, you’re not leaving this career with your sanity intact
The end goal of your marketing campaign will always be lead generation, sales/conversion, and building customer loyalty.
Your marketing calendar will move you closer to these goals by becoming your roadmap. It will streamline your workflows, share your workloads, and outline your due dates.
A marketing calendar will enable you to:
- Explore likely opportunities
- Develop necessary timelines
- Keep stakeholders accountable
- Clarify responsibility
- Make product launches easier
Explore Likely Opportunities
Preparation is the mother of invention (pardon my creativity). A marketing calendar is one of the best ways to prepare your marketing campaign for opportunities.
It allows you to explore future marketing breaks today and start planning for them.
There is likely to be a spike mid-summer.
Well, create space for it on the calendar.
This product sells best during the festive season, then put it on the calendar.
By doing so, you can create flexibility in your marketing budget and human resources for future demands.
Develop Necessary Timelines
What if someone asked you the best way to improve productivity?
It’s not better pay, stricter supervisors, or better technology. Its timelines.
That’s why Henry Ford made the employees stationary and put the cars on a moving line: to create the pressure of time. A marketing calendar helps you create visible timelines and clear expectations for your marketing team.
It’s no longer “these blogs should be updated on LinkedIn.” It’s “Jane should update these blogs on LinkedIn by Monday 23:59.”
Collectively, the deadlines and timelines eventually result in a more effective, efficient, and productive workforce.
Keep Stakeholders Accountable
At the beginning of the year, every stakeholder takes marketing seriously. Promises are made, resolutions drawn, and pledges formed.
Without a calendar that lays out preset responsibilities, marketing campaigns can slowly become a non-issue and drift to the bottom of the priorities list.
Your marketing calendar outlines all the objectives team members created at the beginning of the year. If a content creator promised a hundred pieces in January, the calendar will keep them accountable even in chilly September.
Another thing Henry Ford did to revolutionize manufacturing was to embrace specialization; you should too in your marketing campaign.
From the look of things, everyone in your marketing team seems to be good at everything. Everyone can be a team leader, a content creator, and a designer all at the same time.
However, a closer look reveals quite the opposite.
There is something everyone is good at, and this is why you need a content calendar. It will help you assign responsibilities to each person hence specializing your marketing strategy.
Make Product Launches Easier
Eighty percent of new products fail. That said, during product launches, the pressure on the marketers can be insane, given that the expectations are high and they don’t have enough data to launch a campaign from.
Do you use social media, blogging, or content marketing to launch this product? (insert cricket sounds) Nobody knows.
With a content calendar, your marketers can brainstorm on content ideas, leverage existing data and analytics, and plan for mitigation during product launch marketing.
What Every Good Product Marketing Calendar Must Have
There is no secret formula for the perfect marketing calendar. That clarified, good content calendars have a lot in common.
If you’re going to create have efficient content planning, your marketing calendar should have:
- Customer centricity
In a good marketing calendar, everything should happen in the context of time. One-time marketing efforts like product launches should have a specified time in your content calendar.
You should specify recurrent marketing campaigns such as social media posts, blogging, and podcasts in advance to avoid project conflicts. Finally, marketing projects should have deadlines and due dates.
All marketing channels, content, and strategies are not created equal. An effective product marketing calendar should have prioritization.
If your customers respond better to white papers, your content calendar should prioritize white papers above other types of content. Similarly, if your audience loves blogs, your content calendar should offer more blogs.
Another crucial foundation for an effective content calendar is to specialize and assign responsibility. At any single instance, your content calendar should always answer the question of who does what.
Your content calendar can specify roles such as designers, content creators, and editors. It can also go further to establish who’s in charge of niches such as email marketing or social media content.
The essential aspect of an effective content calendar is customer-centricity. Remember, the customer is always right, even if they’re not there.
The customer should inspire every instance of a content calendar. The type of content, marketing channels, pricing, and messaging all should revolve around the customer.
Ticking this box is easier said than done, and it requires a lot of brainstorming to put yourself in the customer’s shoes and analytics from previous endeavors.
Product Marketing Calendar Best Practices
Creating an effective product marketing calendar for a new or existing product requires a delicate balance of quantity and quality.
You have to deliver quality content at a quantity your target audience requires, and creating this roadmap starts way before you draw the eventual calendar. Here’s what you need to do:
- Map out your audience
- Assemble your marketing avengers
- Work out content quantity and quality
- Identify industry specific themes
- Create your marketing calendar template
1. Map Out Your Audience
First, you have to understand your target audience. You can get this knowledge by looking at analytics from previous subscribers or brainstorming with your team.
Furthermore, creating buyer personas goes a long way. It helps you establish your audience’s opportunities, pain points, and aspirations.
2. Assemble Your Marketing Avengers
Next is to assemble your small special operations marketing team.
In this case, assign everyone a responsibility and a role to play in the marketing plan. Ensure the team leaders know their part and so do the content creators and the designers.
3. Work Out Content Quantity and Quality
Once you’re done sharing responsibilities, it’s time to brainstorm on the content and agree on how frequently the team should upload content.
You can agree with your content creators to be blogging daily, weekly webinars, and monthly podcasts. There’s no one-size fit all solution, and you have to customize this schedule to your company.
Once all the stakeholders are on the same page, move on to identify industry-specific themes.
4. Identify Industry Specific Themes
Your audiences don’t treat all types of content the same. With seasonality in mind, identify topics, marketing channels, and themes that your audience prefers.
These industry-specific themes and channels such as e-mail marketing, webinars, and podcasts will make your marketing plan more strategic.
Moreover, having seasonality as a consideration enables your content calendar to scale accordingly whenever there is a peak or particular time when customers are interested in an existing or new product.
5. Create Your Marketing Calendar Template
With all that wealth of information, you now have a strong enough foundation to create a content calendar and its subsequent templates.
There is no shortage of free and paid tools, and you won’t be browsing for long before you find a content calendar software that meets your needs.
With knowledge you can quickly source online, you can use these marketing project management software to bring your marketing plans to life and ensure that your marketing efforts pay off.
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