How to Plan Promotions with Purpose – [FREE] 2021 eCommerce Calendar Download

If you’re anything like us, you threw your 2020 planner out the window at the first mention of ‘unprecedented times’.

But we’re jumping into 2021 with excitement, purpose and optimism… and some kick-ass promotional ideas.

There’s little that we can predict in this industry. MarTech evolution is moving at lightspeed, buying behaviour is as temperamental as a moody teenager and social platforms fall in and out of popularity faster than Australian Prime Ministers.

On the flip side, there are many things we can foretell. Like peak shopping periods, audience demographics and…promotional holidays that just so happen to be AT THE SAME DAMN TIME EVERY YEAR!

Apologies for the aggressive capitalisation. It’s just that us marketers like to treat promotional holidays like our annual car rego payment. We know it occurs every year. We even know when it will be due and for how much. And yet we’re still gobsmacked when the letter arrives asking us to pay up.

When you ignore campaign planning until the eleventh hour…again!

Make this pledge with me, 

In 2021, I will not let Easter, stocktake sales, Black Friday…or the 101 other promotional holidays hit me like a freight train.

I will be proactive about what holidays we will participate in, how large our promotions will be and when we need to start planning. My team will not be left scrambling to slap something together last minute. 2021 is our year to plan and execute our marketing campaigns like total proactive-pros!

Sign that dotted line and let’s get into it. Here’s exactly how to enact that pledge. 

 In this blog you will learn: 

  • The 6-step process for laying out a year of promotional campaigns for your business
  • How to make sure you’re never struck by the ‘Holy heck, it’s fathers day tomorrow’ panic EVER AGAIN
  • And of course, you’ll receive a free download of our brand spanking new 2021 eCommerce Promotional Calendar

The 6 Step Process to Planning Out a Year of Campaigns

Before we jump into the 6 step process we need to give you the resource that will make all the magic happen!

This is anything but a plain ol’ calendar. We’ve gone out and done the hard work for you, rounding up all the special events, sporting, public, promotional and holidays so you don’t have to.

And to top it off, we’ve packaged it all up with some killer tips, tricks and trends that will keep you motivated and inspired throughout the year. So go on and download the template and come right back!


You’ve downloaded and printed off your swanky new calendar, now it’s time to jump into our 6-step process for mapping our 12 months of campaigns!

Step 1: Identify Your Focus

Now’s not the time to half-ass the planning process.
Image Source: Giphy

Unless you’ve got a team of 100 coffee-charged pros ready that obey your every command, chances are you don’t have the capacity to go all-in on EVERY promotional holiday. Even if you did, it would be total campaign overload!

It’s time to narrow your focus:

  • What holidays have led to large traffic volume or conversions in the past? – It’s time to dig into Google Analytics.
  • Do you really need to participate in every sale period? – Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Vogue Shopping Night, Boxing Day…Today’s consumers are suffering from a serious case of promotion-fatigue so keep your focus narrow. It’s a-ok to be picky about when (or if) you want to run sales.
  • What promotional or holiday dates are the best fit for your business values? Will you do something special for International Women’s Day? Are their specific dates where you could partner with a charity? Are specific sporting or social events that are important to your business?

You can’t don’t need to do it all. Spend your resources wisely and focus your energy where it counts!

Step 2: Set Your Start Line

Ready. Set. GO!
Image Source: Giphy

Repeat after me, ‘I will set REALISTIC timeframes for my campaigns and I WILL stick to them.’

Perhaps the greatest mistake we see businesses make when planning their campaigns is the total and complete failure to set a start line.

Somehow we are all still so surprised when we hit late-November and Christmas is less than a month away. HOW? THE DATE DOESN’T CHANGE!

Unless you’re completely new to the marketing world you should have a good idea of how long it takes yourself, or your team, to plan, test and implement a campaign. When you’re planning your campaigns in your digital or physical calendar it’s super important to set a start line. Set a notification and mark your calendar, days, weeks or months out from your launch date and let the tasks cascade from there.

Step 3: Look for Downtime and OVERTIME

Only people who have watched Stepbrothers will get this 😹

Now let me jump in right here and say we do not recommend you go into immense detail in your 12-month plan. The marketing landscape moves so quickly—you need to remain flexible and adaptable to change. Agile roadmaps and 90-days projects are the new normal (more on this soon).

That being said, being able to see a blueprint of your year at a glance gives you the opportunity to not only see where the team may be overloaded with too many projects but also, your room for opportunity – eeep so exciting!

Do you need to move some timeframes? Is there more you could be doing? Where does your awesome new product launch fit? Respect your start lines and remember it’s always better to do fewer campaigns well than it is to do a boatload of half-assed ones!

Too busy to think about planning? Read: The Essential New Business Practice – Slowing Down to Speed Up

Step 4: Plan Your Campaigns

We’ve laid out the dates, now let’s get into the nitty-gritty. Get your creative cap on, it’s time to get campaign planning!

If you’ve been around here for a while, you would know that we live and breathe the design thinking framework for marketing innovation. So I’m going to leave this point right here. Go on and read; DESIGN THINKING: Milk It Academy’s Playbook for Marketing Innovation…and then come right back. I’ve still got some exciting points to share!

Here are some blogs to get your creative juices flowing:

Here are some blogs to help you understand campaign metrics: 

Step 5: Set Your Goals

You’ve got a whole year of campaigns ahead of you – that’s many, many days of testing new strategies, trying your luck with new technology and hopefully, learning a thing or two along the way. Setting goals around your campaigns, tracking your progress and most importantly, analysing what does/doesn’t work for your business, will transform your results ten-fold.

So how do you set great campaign goals? 

  • Be specific – I’m sure you’ve heard of the S.M.A.R.T goals method more times than you can count (if not, check out the image above)
  • Always work to improve on YOUR benchmarks – Look at your results from past campaigns and aim to beat them by 10-20%. Comparing your campaign success with others, even businesses within your own industry will not validate your success!
  • Understand the metrics you will be tracking – If your goal is to achieve a specific amount of conversions, focussing on your email open rate isn’t going to help you in the slightest. A goal must have a metric and method in which it will be measured, without that, you travelling down the murky tunnel of assumptions.

Read: How to Champion Team Focus with 90-Day Growth Goals

Step 6: Get to Work

Well, I’d love to do it all for you but we’ve got our own exciting campaigns and innovations in the works!

Now you’ve got a scope of your year, it’s time for you to put in the hard work. But remember this: you still need to be agile. If something isn’t working, or an opportunity is dropped into your lap, don’t worry, be happy agile. Just because you’ve planned something, it doesn’t mean it’s set in stone.

Need some added accountability?

Take a look at our upcoming 21 Day Recharge Your Marketing Challenge for some “no-nonsense, ‘here’s how you get your marketing sorted’ energy.”

Use our code ‘MI50’ to score $50 off the price of the program!

Join the 21 day challenge
Join the challenge today!

Before you jump into your campaign planning I’d really recommend you read our blog on The Power of Slowing Down to Speed Up.

In a nutshell 🥜, slowing down to speed up means stepping out of the daily grind, hitting pause on the constant stream of to-do’s, and taking time to reflect on your priorities and work to date. You’ve all heard the saying “getting out of the rat race” well that’s in essence what it is. Get your priorities in order before you begin piling campaigns onto your plate!

Now it’s over to you! If you have any questions about the calendar or need help identifying your core opportunities – the team is always here!

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