Marketing Planning Small Business Info

New Year, New Marketing Calendar

New Year, New Marketing Calendar - The 123Print BlogWith February right around the corner, your 2014 marketing calendar should already be created. But, if you are like many small business owners, finding time to plan ahead often is harder than it seems. Never fear! Creating a marketing calendar does not have to take a lot of time and the rewards you reap from advance strategizing and planning far outweigh the initial planning time.

With that said, let’s get started on your 2014 marketing calendar!

Actually … first let’s discuss what a marketing calendar is exactly. With many small businesses, you may be moving and growing on the fly — advanced strategy is not first on your to-do list. But, actually, it should be, and here is why!

A marketing calendar is an easy-to-read document that outlines your marketing strategy, goals and tactics for a certain period of time. I usually create mine for each calendar year. Your strategy and goals will will vary according to your business model and priorities, but there are several steps to take when building any solid marketing calendar.

1. Clarify Your Overarching Mission
This may seem like a no-brainer, but many businesses plan out their marketing effects backwards. Don’t start with your tactics, start with your overarching mission.  What is your business’s mission? What are you working so hard to accomplish? You should know the answer off the top of your head. Everything you plan out in the marketing calendar should be able to trace back to accomplish the overall goals set forth by your company.

2. Establish Tangible Goals
Next you need to consider what goals you have for your company. For most of us, our goals are monetary and in the form of monthly goals. These are a must when laying out your marketing calendar. You may not want to physically list the money goals on your document, but be fully cognizant of them because you want to plan your strategies and tactics around these goals.

3. Build a Workable Document
The most beautiful calendar in the world will do no good if it isn’t in an easy-to-read and easily editable format. I personally use Excel to set up my calendars; other programs also exist. The goal is to create a fluid and easily accessible document. I am a huge fan of color-coding myself, as I feel it draws eyes to the necessary and related elements. Some people prefer all text and no color formatting. It’s a personal preference. As long as everyone understands the document and can read and edit it, you’re good to go.

4. Do Your Research
Research relevant industry and seasonal trends. Retail shops? Think holiday shopping! Black Friday is your bread and butter. Online store? Cyber Monday is your BFF. Customized printed products such as banners, yard signs and door hangers are especially popular in warm months when people are enjoying the outdoors. The early months of the year are big months for the wedding industry (think of all those holiday engagements … awww.) Consider your industry trends, relevant seasonal trends and also your previous business trends. Then plot those out on your calendar. I usually add those at the top by month, but again, that’s what works for me.

2014 Marketing Calendar

5. Layer in Your Tactics
Okay, so now you’ve got a pretty Excel sheet and maybe even some fun colors going for seasonality or product trends. The next element to add in — and this is the really crucial one — is your marketing tactics! The best-laid plans go nowhere unless you actually execute them :)  So, think of what has worked in the past for your business and lay that down in the correct areas of the plan. Then think about what ideas you’ve been playing around with but weren’t sure how to bring them to fruition. Brainstorm with coworkers. See if you can flesh out those new ideas and then try them — maybe even one a month.

6. Divide and Conquer
Every marketing channel your business utilizes should be represented on your marketing calendar. Your goals and tactics should line up with each channel accordingly. Each channel should be responsible for their portion of goals and execution of tactics.

In addition to an overall marketing calendar, your team should definitely have additional tracking in place to keep everyone focused and working to deadline. But be sure to have those individual channel calendars or grids synced up with the holy grail of scheduling — your marketing calendar. And, remember, be nimble. Flexibility is key in marketing so even the best laid plans WILL change — but if you are prepared and ready for it, you’ll still come out on top!

Did you create a marketing calendar for 2014? How do you organize your campaigns? Let us know in the comments below, or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter or Google+.

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