Creating a Marketing Calendar for Your Small Business in 2018

Creating Small Business Marketing Calendar

Creating a Marketing Calendar for Your Small Business

Successful small businesses, freelancers, authors, brands and entrepreneurs plan out marketing activities months if not a year in advance.  Creating a marketing calendar as a visual and scheduled part of your marketing plan lets appropriately allocate your most valuable resources: time, budget, and manpower.

Why is Creating a Marketing Calendar Important?

Creating a marketing calendar gives you a clear advantage in effectively marketing your business.  While your competitors are scrambling to play catch up with holiday marketing and special event marketing you are ahead of the game and reaching customers first by deploying unique marketing planned months in advance.

For your marketing to be effective, you must prioritize activities and combine many marketing strategies. And juggle all of that while…

♦ planning content

♦ managing ads

♦ coordinating staff

♦ monitoring outsourced support

♦ tracking marketing supplies and deliverables

♦ meeting deadlines

This can be especially difficult for small business owners and solopreneurs who have to wear multiple hats and manage all business operations.

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How are you keeping track of all of that without creating a Marketing Calendar?

 

You just cannot keep track of all the moving parts of your marketing plan when it is in a folder on a flash drive or in a file cabinet.  Your marketing plan is the key to growing your business! Creating a marketing calendar puts a clear visual of scheduled, actionable steps in front of you every day.  You’ll know what needs to be done to reach your goals and be prepared to meet your customer’s needs.


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Creating a Marketing CalendarWhat if I don’t have a marketing plan for my small business yet?

If you don’t have a marketing plan in place, then creating a marketing calendar is an EXCELLENT exercise to get you started. You just need a goal and a strategy to give your marketing plan focus.  From there you look at each month and fill in the marketing activities that will help you reach that goal.
Example of how you can build a marketing plan from filling in your marketing calendar…

COMPANY: Flora’s Florals

GOAL: Increase sales by 10% each month

STRATEGY: Get more customers in the store

FILL IN MARKETING CALENDAR:

Jan 2 – Give new logo to printers for Valentine postcard

Jan 6 – Schedule Facebook and Twitter post for next week

Jan 8 – Proof Sunday paper ad for Valentine section

Jan 9 – BLOG POST “How to get Cheaper Valentine Flowers”

Jan 13 – Schedule Facebook and Twitter post for next week

Jan 14 – Put up POS Flyer with Valentine PRE-ORDER specials

Jan 17 – Prepare coupons for Chamber of Commerce luncheon

Jan 18 – Pick up new sidewalk sign

Jan 19 – Review Facebook Ad retargeting for local performance

Jan 20 – Schedule Facebook and Twitter post for next week

Jan 23 – Launch revised Facebook campaign

Jan 27 – Schedule Facebook and Twitter post for next week

Jan 29 – AD IN SUNDAY PAPER for Valentine’s Day

Jan 30 – Put up POS Flyer with Valentine’s specials

WRITE YOUR MARKETING PLAN: Using your planned tasked from above you can start to categorize your marketing activities and build out your marketing plan.

With Flora’s Florals January scheduled activities as an example she can start to build out her marketing plan knowing she will need sections for:

♦ Budget (for everything)

♦ Marketing Collateral (logo design, postcards, flyers, sidewalk sign)

♦ Social Media Planning and Advertising (post schedule, advertising)

♦ Traditional Marketing (direct mail, ad in paper, sidewalk sign, flyers)

♦ Content (blog, social media posts, graphics)

♦ Digital Marketing (Facebook Ads, Ads for blog)

You can build a marketing plan for yourself by creating a marketing calendar by filling in a few months first.  With your marketing calendar in front of you write a simple marketing plan that includes your marketing goals, your strategies to reach those goals, and what is already being done.

Refine and edit the document and your activities by asking yourself these questions:

♦ Do my activities support my strategy?

♦ Where is my highest ROI?

♦ What activities can I add to my marketing plan to get me closer to my goal?

♦ Where is my lowest ROI?

♦ Will a redistribution of resources make a positive change?

Answering these questions will help you generate ideas on how you can improve your marketing.  They will also spotlight activities you should consider getting rid of to allocate those resources to new or better performing activities.

In the end, you’ll have documented what your marketing goals are, your strategies for reaching those goals, and the steps that will get you there.

Having a Marketing Plan + Creating a Marketing Calendar = SUCCESS

Your marketing calendar is not a replacement for having a marketing plan. And a marketing plan that is created and not looked at for a year isn’t going to do much to grow your business.  With strategic planning and a commitment to executing the marketing activities that support your goals, effectively utilizing your marketing plan and your marketing calendar is the fastest path to success.

Download the FREE 2018 Marketing Calendar Template in Excel Here

 

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How to Use Your Marketing Calendar HEADER 2018 Marketing Calendar Template (1)

Creating a 2018 Marketing Calendar For Your Small Business

If you are wondering “When is the right time to develop your marketing calendar?”

The answer is NOW.

The answer is really A WHILE AGO but now will work too.

Without a marketing calendar, you are already at a disadvantage in the marketing game. To be effective you must prioritize, combine many strategies while coordinating staff, outsourced support, and marketing supplies, all with various deadlines and deliverables.

Your 2018 Marketing Calendar Template helps you plan, track, and measure the activities that grow your business.2018 Marketing Calendar Template Download Now Banner

How Do You Use a Marketing Calendar?

Use the 2018 marketing calendar template to plan future marketing efforts, but also refer to it daily to keep track of day to day activities and upcoming deadlines. Referencing your marketing calendar you can manage multiple marketing projects, stay on task, and establish a routine inside a working document that is revised and updated throughout the year.

  • Organize your marketing efforts, structure and schedule your marketing activities, highlight important marketing events/activities and deadlines, and focus your efforts and budget on successful strategies as you plan, review and adjust.
  • Save on shared drives (cloud), print, or email as a pdf to keep your entire management and marketing team working on the same plan throughout the year. Also share it with people who support your marketing so content developers, copywriters, window designers, printers, etc. can best design a package that is exactly what you need with your brand, schedule, and plan in mind.
  • Adjust if, when looking at the whole month, all activities are bunched together. Putting your marketing ideas and goals on a calendar gives you a visual representation of marketing activities and deadlines, highlighting periods of little action and periods of frenzied work, helping you balance out your marketing workload through scheduling, delegation, and better planning.
  • Schedule a monthly review and planning session. When you do your monthly review and planning session, dive into the analytics of the previous month or two and make note of results from various campaigns, sales, strategies, and activities. What’s working? What can we do better? What do we need to never do again?

What to put on your Marketing Calendar

Online marketing activities and deadlines for needed content and photos such as blog posts, email campaigns, newsletters. Facebook/Twitter ads or campaigns, Google/Yahoo ads, mobile ads, billboards and street signage, as well as ads and banners on other websites.

Events like trade shows, conferences, industry workshops, charity fundraisers, Chamber of Commerce mixers, professional organization awards and meetings. Any happening where you can network, stay on top of local and industry changes and forecasting, highlight your products or services, and learn from colleagues and competitors.

Marketing campaigns and the deadlines for promotion deliverables (content to the designer, proofs to printer, mailings) to include:2018 Marketing Calendar Template SAMPLE Screenshot

  • TV, radio, print, and outdoor ads
  • Press Releases
  • Direct Mailings
  • Specials and Promotions
  • Sponsorships
  • Presentations

Adding your Blog Post Topics adds “Content Calendar” duties to your Marketing Calendar helping you keep your blog post messages timely and in line with the rest of your marketing and branding efforts.  HubSpot has a great guide on building out your content!  Read it here: HUBSPOT: How to Build an Unbeatable Content Marketing Plan

Put your Marketing Calendar RAP (Review, Assessment, and Planning) monthly meeting on your calendar. I suggest mid-month so you can have some results back from the previous month’s efforts and also give yourself enough time adjust next month’s activities.

Schedule a Brand Day at least twice a year where you assess the “perception” customers have of your image and revisit your logo, slogans, taglines, and colors to see if your website, signage, business cards, packaging and such need fine-tuning.

Website maintenance such as website updates and launches. This should include updating social media profiles and pages such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn business profiles as well as your pages on review sites like Yelp, online business directories, and business listings with industry organizations and chambers of commerce if any information has changed.

Your Marketing Calendar is NOT Your Marketing Plan

Your marketing calendar is a visual representation of your marketing plan giving a quick glance compilation of activities, tasks, upcoming events, and deadlines. This helps keep your marketing plan out in front of your with actionable steps, instead of in a file. It also assists in coordinating the efforts of your whole marketing team (which is everyone who works with you who comes in contact with a customer or touches your product).

Use the marketing calendar for planning, coordinating, budgeting and more. Use it to help create your marketing plan if you are a visual thinker, but having a marketing plan is still important.

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