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Business Strategy

Your Complete 2013 Business and Marketing Strategic Plan in Just 2 Hours (Part 3): How to Create a Marketing Calendar

Photo by Jenn Vargas

Have you ever had someone ask you for your advice, and then…

… proceed to RESIST everything you had to say?

Well, last November I was sitting in a café in Oakland with my boyfriend Murray.

We were sipping Mexican hot chocolates and peering into his Macbook.

Photo by crownbindery

Our mission: come up with a strategic plan for his business in 2013.

The only problem was that I was the one coming up with the plan and he was doing everything he could to wiggle out of committing to ANYTHING.

Murray is one of those brilliant guys who loves freedom so much that he resists anything that might tie him down. (Relate?)

It’s not that he’s lazy…

Each morning, he wakes up and dives right into his work, often spending 10 or 12 hours in front of his computer.

He moves mountains…

But it doesn’t always get him where he wants to go because he’s working without a clearly defined focus or direction. (Still relate?)

Well, this year he decided to do things differently and he asked for my support.

We made it through Don’s strategic planning worksheet (Part 1 of this series) and Mynders business decision-making model (Part 2 of this series) without breaking up and then we got to Part 3.

Now that he knew what his priorities were, it was time to put them into a marketing calendar and wrap some promotional initiatives around them.

Oh boy.

Did you say calendar?

When Murray and I first got together he used to gloat over showing me his calendar – it was full of blank white boxes.

And then tease me about mine, which was booked wall-to-wall with appointments.

As if to say, what are you doing with all your time?

So now the tables were turned and it was his turn to put some ink to that calendar…

And something unexpected happened.

He started to really see his year snap into focus and get excited about what he was doing and know what the next steps were….

Flash-forward two months and it’s like I’m living with a new man.

He wakes up each morning and looks at his calendar, then chooses to focus his time on the biggest priority in his business.

He’s now more organized than I am… lol

This is the third article in my New Years series and I wanted to walk you through the process of creating a marketing and promotional calendar.

The thing is, the two most important factors in your business success are how you spend your time and where you direct your focus.

99% of business owners give away their time and focus to the squeeky wheel, the urgent but unimportant things that have to get done but don’t necessarily get you to where you want .

It’s time to take your year back and direct your energy on what matters to you.

?This one exercise of creating a marketing and promotional calendar will make the difference between having a business stuck in neutral or driving your success forward.

Not only will having a marketing calendar allow you to consciously craft your year, it will give you the “mental freedom” of knowing exactly what to write/say and when to write/say it.

No more staring at a blank sheet of paper…

Here’s how it works:

Step 1: Identify the top 6-12 actions, priorities or initiatives you want to take to close the gap between where you currently are in your business and where you want to go by the end of 2012.

If you need help identifying these priorities, check out Part 1 of this New Years series.

If you have too many opportunities or you want to evaluate which ones to focus on first, then check out Part 2 of this series.

Step 2: Place your top priorities for the year into a 12-month calendar.

For example, if you plan on creating and releasing 2 products this year, what months will you release them? If you also want to launch 2 major list-building efforts such as telesummits or giveaways, when will they take place?

To keep it simple, you can use the calendar from the 2-page strategic planning template you downloaded in Part 1.

Step 3: Once you know what you’re doing over the year, it’s easier to see the message, story and topic themes for each month.

For example, I’m hosting a Video Superhero Summit in May where I’ll be sharing my Hidden Story Power product for the first time, so I plan on writing a lot about video and personal storytelling in April and May.

Structuring your marketing around clear themes will allow you to:

  • provide value around your key topics before and after you promote anything, so your audience doesn’t feel like you’re just slamming them with sales pitches and promotions
  • build interest and desire for each promotion by giving value around that specific topic in the days and weeks leading up to your promotion
  • focus ALL your marketing efforts (from blogs to social media posts) strategically around topics related to your products and services
  • give you crystal clarity on what to write about every time you sit down at your computer to craft an email or social media post

For more on choosing the right topics, check out my post: The #1 Thing You Should Be Writing About: How to Develop a Content Strategy for Your Blog and Social Media.

Step 4: Add in major holidays and events that will make your marketing or promotion relevant to what’s going on in your client’s lives when they read your emails. Remember, the best marketing taps into the thoughts and conversations that your prospects are already having.

If you’re a good storyteller you can spin a vivid tale around almost any event. For example, Murray just used the end of the Mayan calendar to talk about getting a “second chance” with blogging and building an audience-focused business. Sounds far-fetched, but it worked and he got a great response!

Here are a list of holidays to get your marketing calendar started:


  • New Years Day (popular topics: weight loss, resolutions, business/financial success, having a great life)?World Religion Day (popular topics: spirituality)
  • Martin Luther King Day


  • Groundhog Day
  • Super Bowl (popular topics: football, commercials, advertising)
  • Valentine’s Day (popular topics: love and relationships)
  • President’s Day
  • Mardi Gras
  • Black History Month


  • First Day of Spring (popular topics: cleaning and organizing, fresh starts, new life)
  • St. Patrick’s Day (popular topics: green, parades, good cheer)
  • Women’s History Month
  • National Nutrition Month


  • April Fool’s Day
  • Tax Day (popular topics: finance, government)
  • Easter
  • Earth Day (popular topics: environment, living green, recycling)
  • Jazz Appreciation Month
  • National Poetry Month


  • Cinco de Mayo
  • Mother’s Day (popular topics: family, moms, being a mom)
  • Memorial Day (popular topics: patriotic, veteran, military)
  • Lupus Awareness Month
  • ALS Awareness Month


  • Father’s Day (popular topic: family, dads, being a dad)
  • First Day of Summer
  • LGBT Pride Month


  • Fourth of July (popular topics: freedom, barbeques)
  • Dance Appreciation Month
  • Eye Injury Prevention Month


  • Back to School (popular topics: education, summer vacation, feeling good)
  • National Immunization Awareness Month
  • Medic Alert Month


  • Labor Day (popular topics: workers, American principles)
  • First Day of Fall
  • Patriot Day
  • National Yoga Month


  • Columbus Day
  • Halloween (popular topics: costumes, makeup, candy, treats)
  • Breast Cancer Awareness Month
  • National Book Month


  • All Saints’ Day (popular topics: costumes, makeup)
  • Veterans’ Day (popular topics: soldier, military service, war)
  • Election Day
  • Thanksgiving (popular topics: gratitude, recipes, family)
  • Black Friday (popular topics: shopping, sales, deals)


  • Christmas (popular topics: shopping, family, celebration, traditions)
  • Hanukkah (popular topics: shopping, family, celebration, traditions)
  • Kwanzaa
  • New Year’s Eve
  • National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month
  • Seasonal Depression Awareness Month

Step 5: Find opportunities to promote other people’s products.

It goes without saying: If you want to grow your business and reach a bigger audience, you need partners. That means that you also have to be willing to promote other people in turn. The trick is balancing your own promotions with partner promotions and giving value to your list, so you don’t burn out your audience.

I try to limit partner promotions to one a month and I turn down any partnership opportunities that will interfere with my internal promotions.

Having a marketing and promotional calendar allows you to evaluate each opportunity that comes your way and say yes or no based on whether it fits into your overall priorities and plan for the year.

This will take you out of reacting to opportunities and put you in the driver’s seat.

My coach Brendon Burchard says that he can tell how successful someone will be by looking at their calendar.

You have the opportunity to breakout this year and build a thriving business around your passions and expertise. The world needs what you have to offer.

Leave a comment below letting us know how this is going to be your breakout year!

Now go out there and Live Your Message!

Love it? Hate it? Let me know...

  1. images

    It’s nearly impossible to find well-informed people on this topic, however, you seem like
    you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

    Reply ·
  2. Susan L. Miller

    Marissa, you are the BEST! Thank you for your generous sharing of this very helpful information.
    All the best to you in 2013 and beyond~ Susan

    Reply ·
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About the Author Marisa Murgatroyd

Marisa is the founder of Live Your Message, where she turns entrepreneurs into Online Superheroes, and the creator of Start With You where she helps people just like you to discover the business they're meant to build, not just the business they can build. At 4’11 and a quarter, she’s called the shortest woman in marketing — and that doesn’t stop her from having huge ideas. She’s the “go to” brand builder for industry luminaries and heavyweights such as Justin Livingston, Callan Rush, Danny Iny, Alexis Neely and Susan Peirce Thompson. Marisa helps entrepreneurs create a business that is authentic and aligned with who they are, to empower them to turn up the dial on their “inner superhero”, so they can be the superhero to their tribe, as well as in their own lives.

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