5 steps to plan your Marketing Calendar


By Payal Parikh, Director of Client Engagement at Heinz Marketing

I have seen a lot of teams planning and executing ad hoc campaigns. I have seen e-blasts sent out impromptu, and webinars planned randomly. As a result, marketing is hardly able to impact the bottom line. I understand there’s always a fire burning and the leads aren’t just enough. How will they be enough, when most of the leads marketing collects and sends to sales are not good enough? how will the leads go further down the funnel? When leads aren’t of good quality, it is hard for sales to build trust and dependability on the marketing organization.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Marketing can show its impact on the bottom line and reclaim its seat at the table. It just needs to be planned and in sync with the business. When planned the right way, successful marketing campaigns can achieve a lot more. It can create a predictable and healthy pipeline by:

  • Understanding the who, what, and why of the target audience
  • Communicating one consistent message across all channels
  • Building brand awareness
  • Aligning business objectives with marketing goals
  • Aligning cross-functional teams

How do you bring all this together and create a successful 1-year marketing calendar? Here are some simple, I warn you, time-consuming yet important steps. Investing your time in this process is crucial for the success of all the work and money you will later put into the marketing campaign execution.

1.     Know your target audience

Companies don’t make the buying decisions, people do. And in the B2B realm, there is no single person involved in the buying process, there is a group of individuals involved – also known as Buying Committee. There are a lot of psychological and emotional factors that play strongly in the buying process.  If these are not understood, you can lose a sale.

Buyer Personas define who the target audience is and what their pain points are, which isn’t just valuable to marketing; they also educate sales on who they’re selling to, what they care about, and how to help them. Consider your buyer personas when you are developing your marketing and sales materials.

This will help you develop consistent messaging across all channels.

2.     Align on your business goals

Does your organization see marketing as a cost center or as a revenue center? If you think your CFO sees you as a cost center, you need to start taking revenue responsibility. By that I mean start aligning your goals with the goals your President has set for the business.

Figure out the revenue goals of your organization and how that trickles down to marketing contribution.

Read more about how you can achieve revenue responsibility by aligning marketing goals to business goals.

3.     Understand your database

It is important for every marketer to know who is in their database and who they will be marketing to. This helps achieve two objectives:

  • Identify gaps in the database: I recommend going back to the drawing board where you identified each member of the buying committee. Study your database and determine if you have the right people in the database. If you don’t see the right people or the right number of people, plan to increase your database with the right people.
  • Identify opportunities for segmentation: There is a lot of information you can segment your database on. Industry, job role, job title, business segment by intent, content download data, are some of the pieces you can pull out to slice and dice your data. This will help you determine how you want to plan your marketing campaigns so that your messaging is targeted and on-point. Which in turn will help create a bigger impact and fetch better results for the campaign.

4.     Understand your funnel

When it comes to rolling out campaigns or campaign planning, not everything needs to be top of funnel demand gen.   There are instances when there are a lot of leads/MQLs coming in but most of them are treated as disqualified. Whereas sometimes, a decent amount of leads get converted to an opportunity. But these opportunities have a hard time converting into a closed-won business.

Calculate your top, mid, and bottom-funnel conversion rates. What is the industry average? Has it always been like this for your business? How does it compare with your historical data?

Dig deeper into what levers you can pull to impact any of these conversion rates. That is where you can focus some of your marketing campaigns. Instead of all campaigns just focusing on bringing in net new people into the database, plan some of them around mid-funnel and bottom-funnel. Plan larger campaigns with end-to-end funnel goals that touch the buyer in their entire journey. Meaning, bringing in net new leads and how to bring them all the way to closed-won.

Create campaigns with goals that are working towards a common business goal of revenue achievement. The ideal sales and marketing funnel is really a revenue funnel in which both sales and marketing teams are accountable, in varying degrees, at each stage of the funnel.

5.     Develop a Marketing Calendar

Once you know what the business needs (strategy), it is time to dive into the planning phase.

Determine which channels resonate with your target audience. Prepare a marketing calendar with integrated marketing campaigns. Utilize the work you did in the prior steps to determine what campaigns you want to roll out and when.

Align with your cross-functional teams and present your plan. Gather their inputs and if required, pivot.

Once you have the marketing campaign calendar finalized, it is time to dive into individual campaigns and determine requirements. Now is the time to estimate your budget requirements per campaign, depending on the impact you are planning to gain from each campaign. This is when you showcase your contribution to the bottom line.

Not all campaigns need the same focus and same resources. I have developed a template that can help you define Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 campaigns. Email me and I’ll send you a free copy!

This is your finalized marketing calendar. It will help you guide the day-to-day planning and execution for each individual campaign. Once your plan is finalized and you have gained alignment with sales and other executives within the organization, including finance; it is time to gather all your resources and have them get started!

  • Set campaign goals: Don’t forget to align each of your campaigns to the overall business goals! Read more on my other blog on how you can align marketing goals to business goals.
  • Establish channels: Prepare the channels for each campaign. It is very important to include sales enablement as a channel. This step will ensure your sales teams are enabled to follow up with your marketing leads.
  • Develop content calendar: You will need a content calendar to support all your upcoming campaigns as well as to provide brand air cover.
  • Develop reporting: Make sure you don’t forget this, after all you will want to show off the results of all your hard work!

Are there any other steps I missed here? How do you do things differently at your organization? Reply in the comments below!

If you need tools and tips from us on marketing campaign planning, reach out to us for a free 30 min consultation! payal@heinzmarketing.com