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A marketing calendar is the best way to establish the effectiveness of a campaign
A marketing calendar is the best way to establish the effectiveness of a campaign


Mark it down

A marketing calendar is the best way to establish the effectiveness of promotional campaigns. MARCUS HANCOCK reports.

Without a marketing calendar, it is impossible to be disciplined and to approach marketing campaigns in a consistent and coordinated way. Think of the marketing calendar as a tool to coordinate approaches and messages to key groups of customers throughout the year to get them understand the business' offer and encourage them to buy.

Fundamentally, by encouraging planning and discipline, the marketing calendar provides a framework for marketing and promotion to be more effective.

Importantly, it helps businesses to determine promotional and sales budgets in advance, reduce expenditure on ineffective marketing, positively impact customer behaviour to increase sales, manage peaks and troughs in income and stick to the marketing plan.

Marketing calendars can be built in two ways: top down or bottom up. Taking a top-down approach is complex and is best done in conjunction with a full market analysis and marketing strategy. If just starting out with marketing calendar, a bottom-up approach is far simpler, and an approach that works well for small businesses in a retail environment.

Weekly or monthly

The first step in creating a marketing calendar is to determine whether to plan weekly or monthly. For the first cut of the plan, it is best to take the broader view and work on a monthly basis. This gives a better feel for the way the campaigns work together overall. Once the months are mapped out, then consider breaking down into weeks or simply write start and end dates for the individual campaigns in the appropriate month.

To get started, create the following columns shown in table 1.

To make the calendar easy to read, fill in the details of the campaigns in the campaign column and then colour the appropriate months in the corresponding "month" columns to better identify the timing of the campaigns.

Key events and dates

At the top of the campaign column, write the key events that are happening through the year. Start with Christmas, Valentines Day, Mothers Day and Easter then add school holidays, sporting events and other dates of interest.

Also include key catalogue dates or promotions in this section and don't forget to put in the date of any sales.

Once the key events are filled in, colour the appropriate months to show what is happening in relation to advertising and promotion as shown in table 2.

I know what I did last summer

Fill in the campaign column with all the things that have been done in previous years. This might include catalogues, press advertising, outdoor advertising, in-store promotions, direct mail, window displays, and website promotion.

Once all past promotions have been listed, add anything planned for the forthcoming year. Include routine items such as updating the window displays, as well as any new ideas or initiatives.

Get nice and sticky

A clear message coupled with repetition is a key to getting customers to respond to promotions. The message, or promotional theme, is covered in the campaign development stage; however, the degree of repetition is planned in the marketing calendar.

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When a repeated message is successful, it becomes a "sticky" campaign. It can be tricky, however, to know how often to repeat it. Fill into the marketing calendar how often each campaign should run.

The coloured squares will give an indication of whether that campaign is repeated often enough to achieve stickiness shown in table 3.

Customer Focus

Once comfortable that there is sufficient promotional coverage over the year ahead, it's time to start addressing the purpose and audience of each specific promotion.

This may look something like table 4. By filling in each of the planned promotions, it will be possible to scan through the marketing calendar to see if there are enough different avenues to get the message across for each event.

At this stage, it is also a good time to consider if there are enough campaigns for both new and existing customers, as well as for niche target markets such as loyalty-program customers, male gift-buyers, etc.


Once a marketing "wish list" has been planned, it's time to work out what it will cost.

Pour a stiff drink, fill in the "cost" column on the calendar and add up the total. Does the amount fit the advertising budget? If so, great. If not, then the number of campaigns may have to be reduced. The aim here is to develop a calendar that balances repetition, reach and risk. When it comes to promotion, repetition is critical but sometimes campaigns reach enough customers in just one go. A postcard drop to 15,000 households has a higher reach than a bonus voucher to loyalty club customers, for example, but the loyalty club customers are likely to have a stronger response rate.

To help work out which campaigns to keep, use the ROI (Return on Investment) column to list the break-even point for each campaign.

The break-even point is calculated as follows: divide the campaign cost by the average profit per sale to get the number of sales the campaign has to generate to break even.

For example, a postcard drop of 10,000 cards costs $1,500 and the average profit per sale is $50. To break even, the campaign must generate 30 sales.

Does this seem like an acceptable level of risk? Use judgment and experience to determine this before going ahead.

Track results

A final important step in using the marketing calendar is to track the results of each campaign and write the return on investment - the sales that each campaign generated - in the ROI column.

Tracking results can be as simple as asking customers where they heard about the store or whether they received the Mother's Day catalogue. It enables businesses to evaluate the effectiveness of each campaign and determine which ones should be repeated.

This step also makes it easier to preparing subsequent calendars in future years.

Marcus Hancock is the director of MJH Group, a strategic and tactical marketing company that supports businesses to be more innovative and effective in their marketing endeavours. For more information, visit www.mjhgroup.com.au.

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Tuesday, 14 July, 2020 02:56am
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