“Hi, my name is Becca, and I’m a scheduling junkie.”
Over the past twenty years, I’ve come to realize the importance of scheduling in order to manage everything that I have to do. I live by my Outlook calendar, which I use not only as a To Do list but also as a tracking tool for what has been done and how long it took.
Some people look at my calendar and comment that it looks like it has thrown up. Having every day scheduled out from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. with tasks, projects, meetings and appointments is instantly overwhelming to them. But I know that nothing will slip through the cracks if it is on my calendar, even if I have to snooze an appointment or move it to another day or time. I could not perform my duties as an Online Marketing Specialist without that level of organization.
I would probably miss a dinner party or two as well. If it’s not on my calendar somewhere, it may as well not exist.
Why should you care about my scheduling proclivities?
Firms can learn from my addiction to organization. My Outlook calendar is for my own personal use so that I stay on track from one day to the next. What you may not realize is that I take that kind of organization and use it to communicate our marketing plans to the rest of the team. I am in love with spreadsheets as much as I am in love with my calendar.
Like many firms with a robust marketing plan, we utilize several different strategies to get our messages out. We blog. We send out email newsletters. We engage in social media. We mail post cards. We attend conferences. We host webinars. We mass email important communications.
In order to plan, manage and track each of our marketing efforts, we utilize several Editorial Calendars (set up on spreadsheets) to lay out pending campaigns and messages. The spreadsheets are shared with the entire team through an internal website and are updated whenever things change, sometimes daily. Other marketing managers I know use programs like Dropbox to share and collaborate with team members.
How will spreadsheets help you stay on track with your marketing plans?
Aside from the benefit of keeping management informed of our activities and facilitating inter-departmental collaboration and communications, an Editorial Calendar is essential for any firm that participates in marketing. It helps you keep your content consistent, relevant and timely. It helps you plan your time (which saves you time). It also helps you communicate your efforts to all those who have the need to know.
You can start with a simple Editorial Calendar that simply tracks the date and content you are planning. Include all days of the business week and mark holidays in advance. Add your key dates, such as events, newsletter deadlines, email messages and blog posts.
If you want to take it to the next level, add a few separate Editorial Calendars to track specific content types and marketing initiatives. Keep all the spreadsheets together in one workbook for easy reference. Each of the tabs might include more details about certain activities that are listed on your master Editorial Calendar.
We maintain an Editorial Calendar for all six prospect newsletters we send out, as well as one for email messages scheduled for the specific target markets we serve, another for our client communications, and an additional one that shows the pending blog schedule. These Editorial Calendars not only help our marketing team members know how to plan their priorities each week and collaborate on themes and messaging, but it also informs our sales team about the subjects and topics being highlighted so that they are fully prepared for inquiries that come in as a result of our efforts.
Why would you want to become a scheduling junkie like me?
Using an Editorial Calendar will help everyone involved stay on track with your campaigns, avoid overwhelming your target markets, prioritize messages and tasks, keep your audience fulfilled and satisfied with quality content, help your teams collaborate and share ideas, and maximize your marketing efforts with streamlined, organized and scheduled activities.
Once you realize all of the tremendous benefits of uber-organized planning, you might become a scheduling junkie too.
Becca Fieler is an Online Marketing Specialist for BizActions, a Thomson Reuters Business, serving as a strategic partner in the planning and implementation of electronic communication and marketing initiatives. She develops and oversees comprehensive programs that present marketing strategies and solutions to diverse audiences, including attorneys, accountants, banks and credit unions, human resource companies and other professional service providers.
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