#CalendarProblems: 3 Signs Your Marketing Calendar is Holding You Back

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Posted: April 25, 2014 | Modern Marketing

Today, I’d like to share some breaking news from the Bureau of Obviousness: marketers have a lot on their plates. Regardless of what kind of marketing you do, or the size of your team, or the annual revenue of your company, you’ve probably learned to multi-task in your sleep. And when you step back to look at your entire team’s activities, it’s even crazier — between scheduling email sends, balancing PPC budgets, launching social campaigns, and cranking out content, keeping track of your company’s overall marketing efforts is no easy task.

That’s why most marketers rely on their calendars – in fact, in a recent report we ran at Marketo, we found that nearly 70% of marketers say marketing calendars are “extremely” or “quite” important, and only 13% said that they didn’t use a marketing calendar. Calendars should help you map activities to your overall strategy, they should help you establish the right cadence of marketing messages, and they should give your entire company visibility into the amazing work that you do.

Unfortunately, many calendars just aren’t up to the task. As we explore in our new ebook, Marketing With a View: How to Use Your Marketing Calendar to Land Your Goals, a calendar should do a lot more than save dates. Here are three signs that your marketing calendar is holding you back.

1. You Have More than One Calendar

Be honest: between Excel, Google Calendars, your marketing automation platform, and good old fashioned whiteboards, how many “calendars” does your company currently consult? Does your demand generation team use one to map out email sends, while your customer marketing emails get mapped out on another? When you schedule a webinar to promote a hot new piece of content, can you instantly tell whether it overlaps with your virtual event?

If you’re navigating between each team’s calendars, the company calendar, and individual project calendars, you’re never going to get caught up to speed. This also can cause major headaches when you’re dealing with vendors, who bring yet another calendar into the mix. Your calendar should allow you (and everyone else) to find everybody’s past, current, and planned activities in a single place.

2. You Can’t Be Flexible

Your calendar is supposed to help you plan your activities – not set them in stone. While one part of a calendar’s job is to help you record things, if you can’t use your calendar to map, move, and tweak your plans, you won’t end up using it at all.

That’s why your calendar should allow you to set placeholders for your marketing programs without “going live”. People are inherently visual, which is one of the biggest reasons that we use calendars to plan. We often find that once you’ve laid everything out on a calendar, gaps and overlaps become significantly easier to spot.

Also, to deliver yet another important message from the Bureau of Obviousness, even the best laid marketing plans occasionally need adjustments on the fly. For example, you might discover a little budget’s been freed up halfway through the month – budget that, if you don’t use it now, will disappear. Can you quickly add a few extra paid programs? Or let’s say an email send is doing much better than expected with a test segment of your audience – can you immediately capitalize on those results with a bigger send? If your calendar doesn’t allow you to easily add, subtract, and rearrange, you’ll miss out.

3. Your Calendar Isn’t Tied to Action

This is a huge one, and (unfortunately) it’s what most marketing calendars are missing. You know all of those programs you’re planning and adjusting on your calendar? Once you’ve got them perfectly mapped out, how do you make them happen?

If you aren’t using a marketing calendar that’s tied to actual action, you have to move from your calendar to your marketing platform to actually execute on your plans. For example, your calendar is where you plan your email sends, but it’s up to you to make sure they’re sent out on the correct date. Naturally, this leaves a lot of room for human error.

This problem also makes you and your team a lot less likely to stick to plans – as we’ve covered, circumstances can change at the last moment, and it’s inefficient to move a program twice (once in your calendar, once in your marketing automation platform). What usually happens is that the program is only adjusted in your marketing automation platform – after all, that’s where the action happens. This leaves the rest of your team in the dark about the adjustment, negating one of your marketing calendar’s most important functions — visibility.

Curious about what a centralized, flexible, and actionable marketing calendar can do for you? Download our new ebook, Marketing With a View: How to Use Your Marketing Calendar to Land Your Goals and check out Marketo’s new Marketing Calendar.

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Maggie Jones is a Content Marketing Specialist at Marketo, a casual reader of the Chicago Manual of Style, and a lover of Oxford commas. The recipient of an MFA in nonfiction writing, Maggie loves information that tells stories, from long-form journalism to the tiniest tweets.

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Is your #marketing calendar holding you back? 3 signs it's time for a new way to plan. #calendarproblems

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