You’re hard at work documenting an actionable marketing strategy.
And now it’s time to map out timelines for all your marketing projects.
Marketing timelines make it easy for your entire team to see:
Above all, they eliminate the panic of trying to map out projects and campaigns at the last minute.
In this chapter, we’ll walk you through how to create marketing timelines for all your projects and campaigns.
Table of Contents:
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.
There are many reasons why a marketing team would adopt a marketing timeline into their overall marketing strategy.
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:
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.
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:
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:
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.
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:
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:
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.
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:
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.
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:
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:
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:
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:
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.
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. Sign up for a two-week trial or schedule a demo to see what else CoSchedule can do for your team.
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.