You’ve heard it said time and time again at every conference and webinar ever created on marketing. “You must create a marketing calendar!” I must admit that I have struggled over the past 5 years to find an organized way to create and stick to a marketing calendar that didn’t stink.

Here’s a quick run down of what I’ve tried:

Paper Planner Days – I would add things into my calendar but the day would come and go and it wouldn’t get accomplished and then since it was in the past I would no longer look at it. Fail.

Separate Paper Calendar – I would create a plan for the quarter, or if I was really ambitious the year, but then the loose paper would get misplaced or sucked into my pile of “inevitable clutter”. This is the place that all items that have a pending decision to be made live in limbo until the pile gets out of hand and you go through it recycling at least half and wondering to yourself why you saved it in the first place. Fail.

Individual Event Planning – I then threw caution to the wind and decided that a marketing calendar just wasn’t for me. I would work on marketing projects when they came up and not plan them out in advance. Any guesses on how that worked? Big. Fat. FAIL. I realized this was not sustainable when it was December 21st and I never did any Christmas Card marketing nor marketing to the previous years clients about purchasing additional prints as gifts….let alone any marketing that was any more complex!

The Digital Age – I created a marketing calendar on Evernote. This was better, but I tend to use Evernote as a place to store digital stuff and not as a stop on my workflow. It works as the perfect place to store goals, brainstorming, random tutorials or blog posts that I want to read, notes from conferences, etc. I just didn’t go into Evernote as often as was necessary to make it a sustainable marketing calendar. Fail.

Details on how I worked on creating this version of the marketing calendar can be found here.

Trello – Cue the angels singing. By George, I think I’ve found it!

What is Trello? In a nutshell, it is a collaboration tool that organizes your projects into boards. However, it is so much more powerful then that suggests.   If you aren’t familiar with Trello, take a few minutes to go on a tour. 

Pretty sweet right? Did you notice that it’s free? Even better.

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First, I created a Marketing Calendar Board. Within that board I created a list for each month of the year. On each list I created a card with a different marketing event. On each card you can add information to the back in the form of links, lists, contacts, due dates, etc. It’s all self contained and if you want to move an event from February to April you just pick it up and move it to that month.

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If you have an idea for a marketing event but aren’t sure where to put it, create another list for “to be scheduled” and keep the overflow ideas there.

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I have also created an email marketing calendar board in the same format. This is a great place to remind me to send fall booking information out by August 1st. Offer digital files to clients from 2 years prior in March. Advertise for dog days of summer minis in June. It’s just such a simple way to keep an updated marketing calendar…dare I say that it’s actually fun!

Trello is also an excellent way to break down a large project and manage all of the smaller pieces. Are you updating your website? Create an update website board. Create a to do, in progress, and done list. Create a card in the to do list for each small action item, such as update pricing page, update about me page, check links, etc… As you accomplish each task move it over into the done column.

This works incredibly well for managing events. For instance, I hold a charitable mini-session event each year and I have created a Trello board for it. I have a card for each action item….4 weeks open registration, 6 weeks press release, blog post, e-blast, etc…

Remember, a marketing plan is only effective when it is put into action. I think that Winston Churchill said it best, “I never worry about action, but only inaction”.

Create your marketing board and share it in the Hair of the Dog Faceboook community! Not a member yet, simply request to join here.