As you dive into your marketing programs, you should be able to precisely identify your target customer based on a detailed demographic profile outlining age, race, sex, income, education, interests, spending habits, and more. Using this information, you will determine what components would complement your business, product, and goals, without investing time and resources blindly in casting a wide net over as many marketing elements. The terms “marketing strategy” and “let’s see what sticks” should never be used in the same sentence.
Now that you’re armed with very valuable, well-articulated, and organized information, it’s time to begin developing your calendar. Below you will find an overview of the more common elements of a general marketing calendar, applicable across most business sectors. As you become more comfortable with this, you will recognize opportunities that present themselves unannounced. Keeping a pulse on your marketing results, along with industry and interest trends, will allow you to adapt and change as circumstances dictate.
General Marketing Calendar Elements
At first glance, you may struggle to find connections between some of these elements. Often, each item is treated as a stand-alone module, rather than the necessary piece of the puzzle that it is. As you read the below summaries of marketing components, notice how they all seem to tie back to one another somehow.
- Campaigns and Promotions
Marketing campaigns and promotions center around a season, holiday, business anniversary, theme, or any other subject you can think of! Advertisements can run for a specified amount of time, while supplies last, or follow any other parameters that you set.
- Days to Promote
These promoted days can include traditional and non-traditional holidays and observances, personal/business celebrations and milestones, #hashtag holidays, or any other occasion that appeals to you, your community, or your industry (to name a few). These days can serve as a springboard for ideas that you hadn’t previously considered. For example, you may see that #Loyalty Day is May 1. You could use this day to focus on a campaign or promotion that offers a discount, gift, or perk for long-time customers targeted in your effort. (See #1)
- Social Media
Social media can be an essential asset in raising awareness about your brand/service, increasing engagement among current and potential customers, or communicating news and updates quickly. With that said, utilize only on those channels that you will be regularly active. Social media is useful for promoting the holidays as mentioned above and observances (See #2), as well as conveying relating information about any campaigns or promotions that you have on your schedule. (See #1)
- Blog Posts
Blog posts are a great way to engage visitors who are on your website and move them through your marketing funnel. Blog posts can provide information about your products or services, news about your industry, staff spotlights, featured products or upcoming promotions (See #1) and more. Social media can be used to share a link to the blog post (See #2), which in turn brings more potential customers to your website.
- Newsletter/Email Marketing
Creating a monthly newsletter is a great way to keep your brand, product or service in front of current and potential customers. Use the newsletter to provide bite-sized chunks of information that can quickly be scanned by readers, while prominently featuring a snippet from your latest blog (See #4), with a link back to your website, and into the marketing funnel.
- Direct Mail
While direct mail can be a great asset, it’s not necessary for all businesses. Typically, direct mail is most heavily used by brick-and-mortar businesses wanting to promote a product, service, promotion or campaign (See #1) in a specific geographic area. There are small and online who utilize direct mail to direct recipients to a website or social channel (See #3), but it’s not a required – or common – element for many small businesses.
Advertising can come in many forms, from billboards to skywriting airplanes. We are going to focus on more widely used (and affordable!) methods commonly used by small businesses. These include, but aren’t limited to:
- Digital Advertising
Any advertisement that you see on the internet is classified as digital advertising. Within that generalization, there is a myriad of types, options, and categories. But, for our purposes, think of Google Adwords, LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media advertising (See #3), to name a few.
- Mobile Advertising
Similar to digital advertising, mobile marketing takes place on devices such as smartphones, iPads, Kindles, and other mobile devices with an internet connection. This form of advertising is used heavily throughout social media, with Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook leading the pack (See #3)
- Broadcast Advertising
Broadcast advertising is delivered to consumers via television and radio. Once the dominant force in reaching large numbers of consumers, the high cost and customer ability to skip commercials broadcast advertising doesn’t have the success or small business support that it did in the past.
Using the above elements as a basis, begin creating a marketing calendar from the ground up. Begin with the days to promote, as those will provide the most opportunities to advertise your business, service or mission.
In reading the above, it’s easy to see how these very different methods can tie into one another. It’s a cycle and process that should be monitored for performance and engagement and will require adjustments over time. A healthy and successful marketing strategy is continuously changing and evolving, and a marketing calendar developed with this in mind will help to keep you on track – and involved – in current and future marketing efforts.