How to Develop Marketing Timelines The Best Way (Free Templates)
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You just finished documenting your entire marketing strategy.
And now you’re looking at a massive document that’s jam-packed full of projects, campaigns, and sales that are going on throughout the next year.
In order to execute your meticulously detailed strategy, you’ll need the right tools to keep organized.
That’s where having a marketing timeline comes in.
They make it easy for your entire team to see:
- Which projects are coming up in the pipeline.
- What they need to be working on right now.
- When their deadlines are (so they don’t get missed).
Above all, they eliminate the panic of trying to map out projects and campaigns at the last minute.
In this post, we’ll walk you through how to create marketing timelines for all your projects and campaigns.
Plus, we’ve included free templates you can download and start filling in right away.
Download Your Marketing Timeline Template Bundle
Instead of trying to mess around in Excel and create your marketing timeline (which let’s face it, is a whole task in and of itself), we built them all for you. This bundle contains:
- Annual Marketing Timeline Template: Plan all of your projects and campaigns for the year.
- Marketing and Sales Timeline Template: Plan your sales and their accompanying promotion campaigns.
- Project Timeline Template: Break down all the steps and phases of your latest marketing project.
- Event Marketing Timeline Template: to plan the scope of your marketing events from start to finish.
Plus, each one of these templates can be uploaded to Google Sheets or Office 365 for easier collaboration.
What Is A Marketing Timeline?
For the purposes of this post a marketing timeline is:
A marketing timeline allows your entire marketing team to see all projects, events, campaigns, and sales that will be happening throughout the year. They can be used to map out deadlines on a quarterly, annual, or per-project basis.
Why Should Your Team Have A Marketing Timeline
There are many reasons why a marketing team would adopt a marketing timeline into their overall marketing strategy.
- Timelines allow your team to see a full overview of which marketing activities are coming up.
- They allow you to (as we say at CoSchedule) plan your work, then work your plan. Planning ahead can mean the difference between a well-executed project and one that is thrown together haphazardly.
- Finally, they help keep all of your marketing tasks on track. These brief overviews can show each member of your marketing team at a glance what they need to get done for a specific project and more importantly when it is due. That means less stress and fewer missed deadlines.
Create An Annual Marketing Timeline
The first timeline your marketing team will need to create is an annual marketing timeline. These should contain every project, sale, and campaign that you plan to run in a year.
Why is a timeline like this so important?
Because this timeline is the one that you will base every other marketing timeline after. This is your home base so to speak.
So let’s move on to how to fill out the annual template that you just downloaded. In the bottom of your spreadsheet, there is a project notes section.
For each one of your projects, sales, and campaigns, fill out the:
- The team that is responsible for this project.
- The budget your team has.
- Any resources you might need.
- The goals you have.
It should look something like this:
Next, you need to fill out the start and end date of your campaign or project. These dates should begin the day you start your ideation (or planning process) for a specific campaign and end the day you complete your last report on said project.
The last thing you need to do in this section of your template is choose the color code for your project. This will be used in the top part of your template and will help you identify which project is which.
After that go up to the top part of your marketing template and fill in the color code on the dates that your project will be running, so it looks like this.
You can also merge the two sections by selecting Merge Across from the menu in Excel:
Repeat this process for every project until your timeline is filled in.
You can also create a more collaborative timeline by uploading your spreadsheet to Google Drive or another cloud-based program.
To convert your excel document to Google Sheets, go to your Drive and select Upload a File.
Select your annual template and click Open with Google Sheets.
After that Google should convert your template and you’ll be able to share it in Google Drive.
Organize Your Marketing And Sales Campaign Timeline
The next template we’re going to walk you through how to use is your marketing and sales campaign timeline.
Your marketing and sales campaign timeline is going to help track every sale and accompanying promotional campaign. This will help you avoid last minute planning or forgetting about a sale entirely. (After all, as a marketer you have a lot to do.)
Before you begin to fill in your template you need to figure out the list of sales and campaigns that you’re going to run for the year. Some common categories include:
- Seasonal Sales
If some of your sales recur annually, you can automatically add them to your calendar for next year. If you’re looking to add new sales, use the list above to get started or use tools like National Day Calendar for inspiration.
Once you have your list of events or holidays that your sales are going to be based on you can add them to your timeline on the left-hand side.
In your calendar highlight what times these sales and their campaigns will occur, so it looks something like this.
As you continue to scroll down your template, you’ll notice there are sections labeled for different marketing promotional tactics.
These are there so you can indicate to your team what tactics you’ll be using to run the promotional campaigns that are attached to each sale. Some common tactics are:
- Social Media
- Blog posts
- Landing pages
- Email newsletters
- Press releases
- Print ads
You name it, you can probably use it to promote your next sale. Depending on what your company decides to do for tactics you can add or remove sections from your template.
After you’ve determined your tactics highlight each week of a sale that you’re going to be using a particular tactic, so it looks something like this.
In the case of this example, you can see that during the first two weeks of your winter sale you’ll be running an insert in the local newspapers.
Fill out each of your sales and campaigns until your template is complete.
Map Out Projects With Your Project Timeline Template
The next template in your bundle is your project timeline template. This template will help you break down each one of the projects and campaigns that you listed in your annual marketing timeline.
Why is a project timeline like this so critical? Each one of your projects is going to have multiple moving parts that can become hard to keep track of.
Your project timeline will help you see all of those moving pieces on a project or campaign-based level. This provides a more granular view of each project’s timeline, giving anyone working on each one visibility on when their part is due.
Your projects will be broken down into four phases:
The ideation phase of your project planning is the first phase. This is where the initial idea of your project comes to fruition.
Your template should include the following steps:
- Project plan: What does the overarching process of your project planning look like?
- Initial launch: Decide when your official launch date will be.
- Meeting set up: When are you meetings going to occur and who needs to be in which ones?
In your template, it should look something like this.
The next phase of your project is the planning phase. This is the phase where you need to determine everything you need to do to hit publish on a project. It could include things like:
- Project scope: What needs to be completed to consider this project ready for launch?
- Goal setting: What are you hoping to achieve at the end of this project?
- Budgeting: What funds do you have to complete the project? Where are they going to go?
- Work breakdown: Who is doing what on this project? What are their deadlines?
- Contacts: Who are your key points of contact?
This is what it could look like in your template.
It’s important to note that some of your planning steps may overlap with one another and that’s okay!
Next is the execution phase of your project. At this point, you’ve hit the Go button, and now you need to keep track of everything that is going on.
How you decide to keep track of your execution process will be up to you. Here are a few things you could add to your timeline.
- Project launch: When are you publishing your project?
- Status and KPI tracking: What is the status of your project and what metrics do you need to track to make sure that you’re going to make your goal?
- Objective execution: Is each objective you planned being completed?
- Performance of project: What is the status of your project and can it run the full course of your plan?
In your template, it would look something like this.
This is one phase of your project where multiple steps will most likely be overlapping as you will be tracking a lot of metrics and data at one time.
The last phase of your project is going to be measurement. In this phase, you’re going to assess the data you gathered and determined if the project was a success or not.
This phase usually falls into four steps:
- Project debrief: Gather your team and talk about the successes (or failures) of the entire project.
- Time and cost tracking: Was your project completed on time and on budget?
- Goals met: Did you meet your goals?
- Reporting: Are there any reports that you need to put together for those who were not an active part of your project?
In your template, this final phase should look something like this.
Each project that you complete will need its own timeline so be sure to keep a blank copy of this template handy at all times.
Plan Events Marketing Event Timeline Template
The last template in your bundle is your marketing event timeline template. This template will help your team organize an event from start to finish.
Why is a timeline like this important?
Even if it is small, there are still lots of moving pieces that need to be taken care of in order to execute an event smoothly. Your timeline can help keep you on track and allow you to plan ahead for what is coming next.
Four phases go into planning an event:
- Final Preparation
- Post Event
Each one of these phases are broken down into different parts that will help you plan and execute your event.
You can remove or add things to these lists based on what you decide to do for your event.
The planning phase of your event usually happens six to eight months before your event takes place. Here are some steps you could take:
- Ideation. What do you want your event to be?
- Setting goals. What do you want your event to accomplish?
- Defining roles and responsibilities. Who is in charge and who is taking care of what part of your event?
- Determining when and where event meetings take place. Who needs to be at what meeting when?
- Deciding how many attendees need to be at an event. Is your event being enacted on a large scale with hundreds of people or are you planning a small get together?
- Setting an event budget. How much money does your event planning committee have to spend?
- Finding your vendors and venue. Where is your event taking place and who will be taking care of details like food, music, etc.
- Creating an emergency plan. What happens if something goes wrong at the venue, weather, etc.?
Fill in each part of your planning process and the dates it needs to take place on in your template.
As with some of the other templates and plans, it’s common to see tasks overlap.
The next phase of your event planning is going to focus solely on promoting said event.
As a committee, you need to determine what channels you’re going to promote your event on, what tactics you’re going to use, and when each of your promotions is going to launch.
Some examples of promotions you could run are:
- Social campaigns promoting your event.
- Including event information in your email newsletters.
- In-store signage
- Printing promotional posters and more.
Once you’ve determined your tactics and promotions record their start and end dates in your timeline, so they look like this.
You can add or remove rows from this section of your template based on the number of promotions your team needs to run.
The next phase of your event planning is going to be final preparations. These are the last things that your event planning team will need to take care of before the actual event takes place. It should include things like:
- Confirming your vendors. Is everyone that you paid to help complete your event going to show up?
- On-site run through (if needed). Do you have a significant change or part of your event that needs to be practiced in the space beforehand?
- Creating your day of event timeline. Create a timed list of who needs to be doing what and when.
Add each of these on to your template.
The last thing you need to take care of is your post-event debrief and cost comparison.
Your debrief should include the entire team and cover what did and didn’t go well and things you can learn from this recent event planning experience.
Your cost comparison should be a brief review of the budget you had vs. the money you spent. If you went over budget use this time to figure out why.
Record the days those meetings will take place in your template, and you’re done.
How To Plan Everything With CoSchedule
Now you know how to plan your entire marketing strategy into a marketing timeline. However, there is one big problem.
These spreadsheets are all pretty static. What happens if an event moves? You have to copy and paste everything into your timeline.
Which could lead to mistakes.
And missed deadlines.
And generally, make a mess of things.
What if there was a way to make it easier? A simple drag and drop calendar that could act as your marketing calendar and your marketing timeline?
That’s where CoSchedule comes in. Our marketing calendar will allow you to plan everything you need to complete your entire marketing timeline all in one place.
With Marketing Campaigns in CoSchedule.
Marketing Campaigns was designed to keep projects and campaigns neatly organized.
So how does this all work?
Go to your calendar select Marketing Campaigns from the menu, and title your project.
Select the start and end date of your project and click Create.
From there a new window will appear giving you a one on one view of your project.
You can add in the different parts your project by clicking the + arrow in the upper left-hand corner.
So for example, let’s say we need to add a social media campaign to our project. We’d simply click the arrow and select Social Campaign from the content menu. Remember to title your promotional pieces so you can keep track of them all.
You can also change the color of each of these additional items, so you have a more organized view.
Finally, you can assign tasks to the members of your project by adding them to the task section of each of your content pieces.
You can assign deadlines, team members and set approval steps for every task.
If you have a series of repetitive tasks that is continuously being assigned in your projects, make it easier on yourself by creating a Task Template that you can apply to a piece of content whenever you want.
The more tasks you check off on each of your content pieces, the more the progress bar in your Marketing Campaign will move.
The more content pieces and people you add to your project the more the calendar will expand.
As you can see, CoSchedule makes it easy to transfer your timeline from a static sheet to a responsive calendar. Create your free marketing calendar or schedule a demo to see what else CoSchedule can do for your team.
Go Create Your Entire Marketing Timeline With Ease
You have your templates. You have your timeline. Now plan your entire marketing strategy with ease knowing that you’ll be able to kick off your next project without missing a beat.
Plus your entire marketing team will be in the know now too. And who doesn’t like team communication and collaboration?
Have a question for us or think we missed something in our timeline? Let us know in the comments below.
February 26, 2018