What is a marketing calendar?
A marketing calendar is just what it sounds like: a calendar for your marketing schedule. It’s a great way to plan out a year’s worth (or more) of marketing campaigns so that you can see at a glance every thing you plan to do and what needs to happen to get it done.
Why do I need one?
A marketing plan saves you time and money–both things small business owners have very little of. You can plan ahead so that you’re not always rushing around last minute, applying the finishing touches just in the nick of time. You can also plan your budget so you don’t get shocked at the end of the year when you realize how much money got sucked into the poor-planning hole. You’ll be able to take advantage of sales and discounts for future campaigns – because you already know what you’ll need. It’ll also be easier for you to track and measure results once a campaign is complete, because you’ll have a record of when everything occurred.
Now, how to create a marketing calendar for your small business marketing efforts:
- Get a calendar (duh). Whether you make it in Microsoft Word, pick one up at the mall, or perhaps get a desk calendar or one of those cool dry-erase calendars to put on the wall.
- Review your mission statement. What are you trying to accomplish this year? What image do you want for your small business? Write out 3-5 marketing goals derived directly from your mission statement and business plan.
- Define your target market. Who are your customers? Who are your potential customers? Clearly identifying the people you want to talk to will help you determine when, where and how to convey your marketing message to get the biggest bang for your marketing buck. And it’s important to narrow down your audience. The idea is to take a ‘sniper’ approach to messaging, rather than a ‘shotgun’ approach.
- Identify your customers’ needs and how your service/product solves them. Before you advertise to your market, you need to know what to say! The most effective marketing techniques present a problem (presumably one that your target audience has) and then provide the perfect solution – your product or service.
- Get your marketing strategy together. Take all the information you’ve gathered in the previous steps and determine how you want to use it. Will you use billboards? TV commercials? Newspaper ads? What marketing tactics make the most sense for your business and your customers?
- Plan your marketing mix. Since I don’t have the patience to write about the complexities of developing a marketing mix, I’ll link you to the perfect resource instead. Check out QuickMBA’s primer on marketing mix, then incorporate it into your marketing strategy.
- Finally, create your marketing calendar. Take all the knowledge you’ve gathered in the previous steps and use it to input your strategy into your marketing calendar. Break it down by week and determine if you’ll do monthly or quarterly marketing campaigns.
Once you’ve outline what it is you want to do, develop your budget around it. Spread your money throughout the calendar, concentrating your advertising budget on your most intense advertising times. Then start calling up your vendors, shopping around, and get the best rates for your planned ad campaigns.Jillian's Currently Reading: Guerrilla Marketing, 4th edition: Easy and Inexpensive Strategies for Making Big Profits from Your Small Business