What Do We Mean By "Marketing Schedule"?In simplest terms, a marketing schedule can be anything that's used to track the following:
- Projects and campaigns your team will work on.
- Which team members will be responsible for each one.
- The deadlines and ship dates for deliverables.
- Stress less. Working without a clear strategy sucks. It leaves team members frantically scrambling to produce directionless content at the last minute. Ultimately, this leaves everyone feeling exasperated and undermines success.
- Work more efficiently. When you don’t have to think about what you’re going to do in a day, you’re mentally free to focus on what matters. That leads to getting more done in less time.
- Increasing transparency across your team. Not knowing what the rest of your team is working on can lead to misunderstandings and frustration. Laying out all your projects in one shared space makes it easier for everyone to see what everyone else is doing (and plan projects accordingly).
Step 1: Determine Projects to Place on Your ScheduleSo, you've decided you’re ready to build out a complete marketing schedule for your content. The first thing you’ll need to do is figure out which projects need to go on your schedule. Start by listing out all your recurring project types. Essentially, what we want to first establish is which recurring types of content do you know you’ll create regularly on an ongoing basis. Once you have this figured out, start planning out the specific ideas for each content type you’ll create. This means developing a list of specific titles and working headlines for each piece.
Fill Your Schedule With an Effective Brainstorming ProcessWe’re big believers in group brainstorming here at CoSchedule. If you don’t have any specific ideas for content lined up yet, this quick process may help you change that. Here’s how our 30-minute three-step brainstorming process works:
- Have everyone on your team spend 10 minutes writing down ideas. Don’t worry if they’re good or not. Just get them down on paper.
- Then, spend 10 minutes reading those ideas aloud, and have everyone score them silently. Use a three-point scale, where three’s are the best ideas you absolutely need to create, two’s are average ideas that need work, and one’s are duds to be tossed out. Expect to see a mix of ideas that fall into all three buckets.
- Last, spend ten minutes discussing every idea that everyone agreed was a three. From these, choose the ideas you’ll actually execute on. Depending on how much content you typically produce, you can expect to generate a month’s worth of ideas this way (that’s typically the result we get, but your results may vary).
Assign Projects to Team MembersNext, determine who will be creating each piece of content on your schedule. This means including everyone involved in seeing each project through from ideation to completion. Possible team members could include:
- Project Managers
- And anyone else involved
Establish a Color-Coding SchemeColor-coding your schedule makes it easier to tell projects apart at a glance. Assign one color to each type of project. For example, all your blog posts might be green, while videos could be orange, and so on. Alternatively, you might also want to color-code projects based on the teams or individuals they’re assigned to.
Step 2: Determine the Steps Required to Complete Each ProjectIf you have recurring project types you create on a regular basis, odds are you have pre-defined workflows for each project. If you don’t, it’s time to consider documenting checklists you can use to make sure every project on your schedule is completed thoroughly. This helps prevent wasting time to fix errors later and enables teams to work more efficiently and effectively. Get out a text editor and lay out your steps like this:
Step 1: [INSERT STEP] Step 2: [INSERT STEP] Step 3: [INSERT STEP]For a blog post, a hypothetical checklist might look like this:
Step 1: Find a target keyword Step 2: Write 20 headline options Step 3: Craft an outline Step 4: Write your post Step 5: Proofread / edit Step 6: Schedule publish dateSimple stuff. To build your own checklists, ask yourself:
- Which steps do we usually follow to complete this task?
- Are there steps we could consider adding, to make this process more effective?
- Are there unnecessary steps we should remove to increase efficiency?
Why Are Checklists Important?Checklists are essential for making your marketing schedule more useful. Planning projects ahead of time loses its value if those projects aren’t completed properly. Plus, if part of our goal is to increase efficiency and effectiveness, ensuring steps aren’t missed is crucial. For more insight into the power of checklists, watch this video of Atul Gawande, author of The Checklist Manifesto:
Step 3: Place Projects on Your Marketing ScheduleNow that you’ve got all your ducks in a row, it’s time to start dropping your content onto your marketing schedule.
Set (Realistic) DeadlinesEvery project should have a clear and realistic deadline. But, how do you determine what a realistic deadline looks like? There’s a data-backed solution to help you figure out. Start by roughly estimating the amount of time it usually takes you to complete a certain type of task or project. Set your first deadline accordingly. Then, track your actual time spent working on those types of projects over time.
Set realistic deadlines by tracking the actual time it takes to complete projects.Click To Tweet
Set Up Deadline AlertsWhat happens if you forget to check your schedule and blow a deadline? Odds are, your boss will look something like this: Giphy And you’ll feel something like this: Giphy Avoid catastrophe! Use Google Calendar to set up an alert for each deadline. That way, you’ll get an email reminder to make sure you don’t forget. Start by clicking a time on your Google Calendar and give your project a name: Then, click Edit Event to control how frequently you receive reminders. Adjust to your own preference: Now, you won’t have an excuse for blowing that deadline. If you’re a CoSchedule user, you’ll receive email and in-app notifications to show you when deadlines are approaching. They're all visible upon logging in on your dashboard as well:
Now, Finally, Let’s Add Your Projects to Your Marketing ScheduleIf you haven’t done so yet, download the marketing schedule template included in this blog post. Then, click the Marketing Schedule tab in the lower left: Here’s what you’ll see in there: At first, you’ll see a ton of columns. Let’s break down what each one is for:
- Title: Self-explanatory. This is your headline.
- Article Type: For a blog post or article, list the article type. Ex: How-To, News Announcement, etc.
- Image Type: If your post will include an infographic, image gallery, or other design-intensive graphic, list it here.
- Deadline: If it’s not done by this date, there had better be a good reason.
- Step In Process: Update your progress here. Ex: Ideation, Writing, Design, Editing, etc.
- Subject Matter Expert: If you’re depending on an internal subject matter expert to support and review your content for factual accuracy, include their name here.
- Designer: Who’s creating your graphics”
- Author: Who’s writing your content?
- Notes: Keep miscellaneous notes about your project here.
- In Edit Folder?: If this content is ready for editing, denote that in this column.
- Steps: List out each step to complete that project type.
- Hours: Include how much time each step should take (on average).
- Explanation: Write out a short description of what each step entails.
Here's how to keep every content marketing project you create on trackClick To Tweet