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Marketing Plan Timeline Examples & How to Create them?

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You should always have a timeline for your marketing strategy. That timeline shouldn't just reflect when projects are due; it should also be tied to your marketing goals.

Marketers rely on time to measure the effectiveness of every effort. However, it's difficult to gauge the duration of long-term marketing campaigns. Every campaign relies on research, strategy, execution, and the time it takes to do each.

You already know that everything you do at work needs a timeline (or a deadline). But for each campaign, what should your marketing timeline look like?

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If you’re about to embark on an ambitious new marketing campaign, investigate each individual task. Determine how long it will take your team members to accomplish those tasks. Get a rough idea of how long it takes to create, design, and implement each individual marketing effort. Eventually, you’ll have enough insight to create a schedule. Compiled together, all of those tasks should make up your marketing timeline.

Many marketing campaigns are ongoing, however. If you’re engaged in digital marketing, you’re going to be producing content for quite some time. Forever, even. You’ll never stop sending out emails to nurture your leads or posting on social media. Therefore, set a measurable marketing goal for each effort. With a timeline for each goal, you'll be able to adjust your strategy as necessary.

What Influences Your Marketing Timeline?

Your Daily Routine

At the end of 2015, HubSpot marketing manager, Sam Balter, decided to conduct a survey to determine how marketers were spending their time. He found that the average marketer spends about a third of their workweek doing routine tasks.

Why is this important to your marketing timeline? In order to set a timeline that is realistic, you have to incorporate these routine tasks into the mix. In some cases, you may be able to make them easier and less time consuming, but they may be necessary components of your marketing machine.

Teamwork

The way your team communicates can have an enormous effect on your timeline. If you haven’t taken advantage of them already, project management tools can help you can track progress and save relevant information. If you find that communication issues are causing you to extend your timeline, you may want to reshape how your team works together.

When tasks are documented and checked off, and when everyone is working together towards the same goal, you’ll be able to set more reasonable timelines and more attainable goals.

Campaign Type

A content campaign in which a copywriter needs to draft a 4,000-word “Ultimate Guide,” will likely have a different timeline than an Instagram photo campaign. Social media campaigns can take a long time to prepare, but posts can be scheduled for months in advance, freeing your time up to work on other tasks.

Depending on what marketing channel you are using, the type of marketing campaign you pick will have a direct impact on your timeline. For ongoing campaigns, you can keep things simple and reachable by setting the same timeline month after month, week after week. If you find that your team is finishing their tasks with time to spare, you can adjust the timeline.

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Goals

Your marketing timeline should reflect your specific marketing goal. If your goal is to get 1000 Facebook followers, you’ll need a reasonable timeframe for accomplishing it if you want your goal to remain attainable. If your timeline is too short, you run the risk of missing your goal or having to extend your timeline. Alternatively, a long timeline could get in the way of other scheduled projects.

For example, if you achieve your goal of getting 1000 Facebook followers but you’re still scheduling your team to work on getting Facebook exposure, you might be late in adopting your next marketing strategy: pushing content out to your Facebook followers to get more leads and conversions. A reasonable timeline will see you achieve your goals on time so you can move on to the next phase in your marketing effort.

Your Marketing Calendar

Whether you use a digital project management tool or you rely on the whiteboard hanging on your office wall, it’s a good idea to create a marketing calendar. You can set specific dates for each segment of your marketing strategy. For content creation, you can create deadlines for each component and a final deadline for the finished product. If you’re working on multiple marketing efforts at the same time, a marketing calendar can give you a full view of all your marketing timelines in a single space.

What should your marketing timeline look like?

(Image Source:https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hub/53/file-1592784305-png/ed.calendar.png)

If you outsource your marketing efforts, your team should know how long it takes to complete each marketing task. Work with them on your marketing strategy. You’ll establish an executable timeline for each marketing effort and a calendar to keep track of your progress.

Setting goals and timelines is one of the most important steps in the marketing process. They allow you to follow your progress as your campaign evolves from the idea stage to the execution stage. By creating reasonable timelines for tasks and your overall effort, you can boost your efficiency and keep your team focused.

 

What Should Your Marketing Timeline Look Like?  

Marketing Timeline Formats

Your marketing timeline is a visual presentation of your marketing plan. Different team members may connect with different formats; a calendar is just one marketing timeline format. Check out how it compares to other options and let individual team members decide what format works best for them if possible.

How Long Should Your Marketing Timeline Formats Be?

The most common marketing timeline formats are either one year or 3 months. Many marketing departments create an annual marketing plan framework for budget allocation and execute it in 90-day sprints throughout the year. In general, 90 days is a long enough period to execute and evaluate the efficacy of most marketing programs, except for longer-term initiatives like loyalty programs, for example.

Marketing Timeline Formats: Calendar

Using a calendar format is familiar to everyone and can help manage daily marketing operations. However, the calendar marketing timeline format can sometimes be challenging if you want to see the overall project status or zero in on resource allocation.

Marketing Timeline Formats: Gantt Chart

A Gantt chart is a bar graph that runs horizontally, with initiatives cascading down over time. Each activity has its own start and end time. This approach provides an overview of activities, assigned responsibilities, and resource allocations on any given day while also providing a sense of progress at a glance.

Marketing Timeline Formats: Table

Using a table as your marketing timeline format can give you a quick and easy overview of your initiatives. You can add as many details as needed to make the format work for you, such as responsible parties, critical dates for deliverables, and dependencies.

9 Steps for Creating a Marketing Plan Timeline

A marketing plan timeline is simply an action plan framework that translates your ideas into smaller steps, each with a deadline, to make the overall task less daunting and the plan more doable. What should your marketing plan timeline include?

1. SWOT Analysis: Review and Evaluate Your Current Situation

Every plan should start with an analysis of your current situation. Even a quick SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) will give you and your team a realistic view of where your company sits in the marketplace.

2. Define Your Target Audience

Your target audience or ICP (ideal customer persona) are the prospects who can best be served by the product or service you offer. Finding out what your best customers have in common is a great way to begin to define your target audience. Then, develop a persona for that audience to better understand their pain points and motivations for purchase. Creating marketing messages that resonate with your audience and reach them where they spend their time will help optimize your marketing budget.

3. Set Your Marketing Goals

What do you need to accomplish? Most businesses create metrics tied to different revenue goals. You can start by separating those goals into new customer vs. existing customer revenue and then begin to break down and work backward to set your targets. For instance, if you need to drive $100,000 in revenue for the quarter, and each customer's order averages $5,000, you will need 20 customers per quarter to hit that number. Then, expand to look at the average deal close rate, landing page conversions, and views to set metrics throughout the journey.

4. Set a Budget

Nothing happens without a budget. And when you begin a digital marketing campaign with ad spend, expect it to take a while to optimize. Start with a dollar figure, and then you can work to allocate it to the products and services you need to make it happen.

5. Outline Roles and Responsibilities for Team Members

Tasks need to be assigned to team members, or they won't get done. Assigning tasks gives your team a feeling of ownership and allows managers to allocate resources and time appropriately. Ensure you assign a project manager to ensure that project tasks are completed on time and delivered as expected.

6. Set a Deadline for Each Step

People don't take action without a deadline. That holds true for your prospects as well as your team members. If you want to bring your marketing plan timeline to life, you will need actual deadlines to hold your team members accountable for hitting their goals.

7. Create Your Campaigns

Develop campaign concepts and strategies for each essential activity. Once this step is done, you can add executional detail to your timelines. Don't forget to allow time for internal approvals within your organization, including legal, if needed.

8. Schedule Progress Reviews

Add scheduled project reviews to your marketing timeline at the cadence that best suits your team to ensure your team is on track. You may find that weekly meetings are essential during critical phases of the timeline but that you can reduce the frequency after your initial launch.

9. Measure Your Success, Evaluate Your Failures

The digital landscape gives marketers a chance to "fail fast." Today's campaigns allow you to optimize on the fly with ads, lead magnets, and even headlines. What's important is that you and your team constantly monitor how your campaigns are progressing and can apply key learnings to your next marketing plan timeline.

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