How are you doing keeping up with your Marketing Calendar? Are your promotions and Social Media campaigns on track? Do you have everything in place for the big Labor Day weekend?
You don’t have a Marketing Calendar? That’s okay, while there are thousands and thousands of articles online about them, most small businesses don’t have one or abandon it shortly after starting. With any luck this article will give you some ideas for creating an easy-to-make and, more importantly, easy-to-implement Marketing Calendar for your small (or large!) business.
Why should I bother with this, if no one else is doing it?
More marketing = more market share.
It’s as simple as that. If you still are not convinced, well, here are some more reasons:
- You can learn what works and what doesn’t by measuring the results of specific activities. Did anyone redeem that coupon that you put in the local paper? Yes? How many? How much did they spend? No? Why not?
- You can create a realistic budget in advance, so you don’t get stuck in a cash flow crunch and not have money for marketing materials and activities.
- You can plan to schedule your staff to be in the right place at the right time to handle customers and keeping products in stock.
- You can make smarter decisions and be able to get out in front of your potential customers repeatedly before a big promotional opportunity. (Labor Day weekend is in eight days, you should have started promoting your special two weeks ago…)
- You will finally have a use for those Comment Cards you ordered last year, to survey your customers about how they found out about you or the promotion.
Quick, right now, I want you to think about an opportunity to rake in a bunch of business that you missed because you didn’t plan your advertising far enough ahead of time. Can you think of more than one? Now do you see why you need a Marketing Calendar?
Create Your Plan
What are your business goals for the next three months?
- Increase sales revenue? By how much? (be specific)
- Gain new clients or memberships? How many?
- Introduce a new product or service?
- Enter a new geographical market?
Whatever your goal is, write it down as specifically as possible.
- Choose the most important dates for these promotions to run
- Determine your budget for each promotion
- Take advantage of unusual holidays to make the promotions more fun and interesting
- Create the enticing offer for each promotion
Take a look at your past sales records to determine the best time to promote each of the items. For example, a business that sells home improvement services would be best suited to promote Spring Cleaning services in March and April, while an company that sells water skis would like be best served to promote the skis themselves in April and May, then promote ski maintenance products and services when the season is winding down in September and October.
Your promotional budget includes all of the expenses involved in marketing your products and services including blog/website hosting, postage expense, Chamber of Commerce membership, etc. It is important to keep good records on your expenses and to have a method of capturing data on the return that each marketing channel provides.
Keep in mind that while some services are “free” (like Facebook and Foursquare), they still involve an investment of time on your part. Hours that you invest in Facebook and other Social Network marketing should be logged.
These can really make your marketing efforts fun for yourself, your staff and your customers. There are a slew of unusual and unique “holidays” and “National ____ Days” that you can choose from to make your promotion stand out. For example, the month of October alone features these non-standard “holidays”:
(These holidays and more can be found at http://www.gone-ta-pott.com/weird_october_holidays.html )
Create an Enticing Offer
Now that you have paired a product or service with a “holiday” you will have the dates for your promotion to run, a theme to use in your marketing, and an idea of what it may cost to run that promotion. Now it is time to come up with the offer itself.
As an example, “Toot Your Own Flute Day“, on October 4th, would work for nearly any business – with a brick-and-mortar store or even online – to gain attention to your business by inviting your customers to share their own accomplishments.
A restaurant can offer free french fries to anyone bringing in a flute or kazoo and plays a song, a home improvement company can offer to showcase customer’s gardens/vegetables/fruit trees.
Action Step: Schedule an Appointment to Make Your Calendar Now
Now that you have a plan, a budget, a schedule and an offer you can get to work assigning the relevant duties and planning your activities. Setting aside a time to do this every quarter takes less of an investment of time than plotting out the whole year. It also gives you the opportunity to measure results, eliminate poorly-performing programs and adjust your marketing efforts more quickly.
Remember to keep careful notes for the next Quarterly planning session and for the same period next year.