A well-crafted marketing calendar allows businesses of any size to launch, monitor, analyze and adjust marketing efforts as campaigns are evaluated. For small-to-medium companies, however, the benefits are even more far-reaching. A comprehensive marketing calendar acts as a blueprint for all active marketing channels and strategies while providing a consistent and relevant stream of content, brand promotion, products and services to your intended audience.
Why Do You Need a Marketing Calendar?
Whether you’re the owner of a small online shop or have a physical location business, a thoughtful and well-coordinated marketing calendar is an essential component to an effective overall marketing strategy. Understanding the elements of a robust full-year marketing timetable will enable you to understand both short and long-term goals in one view, while at the same time allowing you to see the big picture.
Maybe you have too many irons in the fire, or just can’t get a handle on what your marketing calendar should include. Perhaps you’re not sure you want to tackle this at all, so you’re looking for information to help you with that decision. Perhaps the piles got higher, priorities shifted, and the monthly newsletter was cut back to quarterly editions, with once-active social media accounts collecting cobwebs. Without a marketing calendar to tie these elements of your efforts together, it becomes a game of marketing Jenga; carefully trying to balance everything just so – knowing it’s not sound, and there’s no buildable foundation to speak of. Neglecting only one component of your marketing strategy can hurt other elements you didn’t consider.
Ask Questions and Evaluate Options
Unfortunately, most of us just can’t grab a notebook and create an effective, coordinated, and strategic 12-month marketing calendar. By ALL MEANS, jot down notes, ideas, doodles, sweepstakes ideas, promotion strategies and the like! Notes and ideas are fantastic, as long as they have intent and purpose, which brings us back to the topic of preparing in advance and getting your business ducks in a row, so to speak!
Think of the next section as Phase 1: The Evaluation. This phase requires thought, insight, realistic expectations, and a commitment to scheduled blocks of time devoted to implementing and monitoring marketing efforts. Investing your time in the initial and thorough development of your marketing calendar, it will serve as a template and reference for the following year. So, to make this process straightforward and solid from the very beginning, there are some steps you need to take that will help you create a basic framework on which to begin building your marketing calendar.
By answering the following questions honestly, you will gain an understanding of the marketing efforts that make sense for your business and those that don’t. Answer the following with thought and purpose.
- Who is your customer? Do you have a demographic profile in place? Your consumer profile should provide age, gender, education level, interests, and other crucial information about the specific consumer you’re trying to reach.
- How much time per week can you realistically commit to focusing on your marketing calendar efforts?
- What month(s) or seasons are your most profitable? What is the least?
- Realistically, what is your budget for marketing efforts?
- What are your specific goals? More than “making a sale,” what specifically? Opt-in, social media share/follow, click a link, call, etc.
- Where will you reach your current and potential customers? Email marketing, social media, guess/cross content posts, paid search/advertising, etc.)
Look at your answers and really think about them. Is your expectation of gaining 500 Twitter followers organically in 48 hours a realistic one? Once you feel that you have thought out accurate answers and achievable goals, you’ve completed Phase 1.
After completing the above, you should be able to comfortably take a step back from “the pile of overwhelm,” start at the beginning, and lay a strong and solid foundation for efforts moving forward. The time you invest now will come back tenfold later
Phase II: Choosing the Right Marketing Options for Your Business
Depending on your product, service, and business industry, there are a wide variety of marketing sub-sections that could apply to your specific circumstances and industry. In Phase II, you will learn to identify the best marketing efforts to suit your budget, business, and goals, including only those elements that would benefit your business, brand recognition, reputation, and consumer awareness.
Commit to scheduling a full day dedicated to conceptualizing, completing the calendar once you’ve begun. As you start populating various areas of your marketing calendar, you will see how these areas connect together.