Running a small business is not easy. Many day-to-day tasks need to be done, and it can be overwhelming to keep track of everything. One tool you may want to consider using is a marketing calendar for your small business. A marketing calendar will help keep you on top of all the details of your marketing efforts so that you know what needs to get done, when, and why. It will also help you be more consistent in your marketing. In this blog post, we’ll discuss how a marketing calendar can help improve your success in generating new leads and sales for your small business!
It should also be noted from the outset that most businesses have yearly cycles, often based on the products or services that they provide. A well-designed marketing calendar can fill in the gaps when your company is traditionally slower. Initially, we suggest that you don’t focus too much on the details – the important thing is just to get started.
The bottom line is that, like most entrepreneurs, you’re trying to grow your small business. Here are the six steps to launching an effective marketing calendar for your small business to get your message in front of more people and start growing today.
1. Clear Expectations and Deadlines
One of the biggest benefits of having a marketing calendar in place is planning and tracking upcoming promotions and marketing initiatives. This also allows you to set realistic deadlines, so you’re not scrambling to get things done at the last minute or, even worse, missing out on important opportunities.
This will also give you better-quality promotional materials. For example, if you plan your blog posts out a month or more in advance, you’ll have time to ensure you publish a high-quality, well-written piece that positions you as a thought-leader in your industry.
Plotting everything out on a marketing calendar will also help you see if you’ve got too many promotions lined up at the same time or if you’ve set any unrealistic deadlines.
2. Define Responsibilities
Once you’ve plotted out your calendar, you can also begin assigning tasks and responsibilities to your marketing team or staff members. It’s a great idea to put one person in charge of managing the calendar itself – keeping it up to date and ensuring that nobody misses deadlines. This will also be the point person for any questions that arise.
While one person should be responsible for the calendar, your entire team must have access to it. This will help to ensure everyone is always on the same page. You can use Dropbox, Google Drive, or Microsoft Office 365 to keep your calendar centralized and accessible to everyone.
Once you have a marketing team in place, their responsibilities must be well-defined so they know exactly what is expected of them. Depending on the size of your business, this responsibility could rest solely with one person – but if not, make sure all parties involved understand how each task contributes to the larger goals.
It’s also vital for your team to be able to prioritize their tasks accordingly — especially when things get busy! Someone should always take charge of making sure everything stays within deadlines, even as other projects arise. For example, let’s say right before the summer vacation season begins there are suddenly several new sales campaigns that need to be launched. The person in charge of the calendar can help coordinate when each project has its launch date so that your team doesn’t fall behind on any deadlines.
After you establish a marketing calendar with clear responsibilities, it should become easy for everyone involved to see how their tasks contribute to the larger goal and work together as a cohesive unit.
3. Organize Your Message
Planning out the specifics of your marketing campaign will help ensure you’re putting out an organized and consistent message. When you’re creating your calendar, try to be as specific as you can.
Include the actual titles of your blog posts, e-books, guides, webinars, and presentations. If you do email marketing, also add the subject lines of each email on the date you’re planning to distribute it.
Also add details for any paid advertising campaigns, including the platform, budget, target audience, and any other relevant information.
When you’re done with an activity, don’t delete it! Cross it off or shade it out, but keep all the details. This way, you can look back at what you’ve done in the past and use the information you’ve gathered to determine what’s likely to work best going forward.
Your message is the sum of all your marketing efforts. To make a good impression, it’s important to present this information cohesively and coherently. Your blog posts should complement each other by sharing similar ideas or approaches–not contradicting them. In addition, you can plan out messaging for social media updates as well as emails and newsletters. This will help ensure that none of these online communications overlap or come across as confusing or self-promotional.
4. Track and Optimize Your Budget
All small businesses need to track their spending. To make sure you stick to your marketing budget, consider adding your budgeted expenses to your marketing calendar as well.
A marketing calendar is an excellent way to plan and track your marketing budget. It’s a strategic roadmap for you and your team so that, no matter what market conditions are on the horizon, you’ll know how to get the most out of every dollar spent.
You’ll want to keep your budget spreadsheet separate from your marketing calendar, but tracking your financial and time costs on the calendar can help you compare your budget to the actual expenses.
This will also help prevent a common budgeting mistake – underspending throughout the year and then frantically trying to spend down during the year-end planning sessions. Listing the budget next to each marketing activity will help ensure your spending is allocated appropriately throughout the year.
This will also give your whole team greater clarity. If a new opportunity comes up, you’ll be able to evaluate the remaining budget easily and determine what you’ll swap out to take on the new project.
5. Keep Your Business Relevant
Most business owners start with the best of intentions when developing their marketing plans, but then they get distracted or other things come up and the momentum wears off.
If your marketing is inconsistent, your audience can quickly forget how much they love your brand, product, or service. Wait long enough and you’ll become irrelevant in your audience’s mind.
Another concern is your brand image. The most well-loved companies consistently provide quality content and entertaining media, making viewers feel endeared. If you virtually disappear and only show up when it’s time to push a promotion or sale, this will make your company look very opportunistic.
Your customers will start to feel that you don’t really care about them and will generally move on to another company that provides a similar product or service.
6. Connect with the Big Picture
Once they’re put together, comprehensive marketing plans give everyone on your team a clear look at the big picture. This way, each team member can see how their marketing efforts work together.
For example, your blog writer may be able to come up with great topics once they know that you have a particular speaking agent or event coming up. Looking at the year all at once will also help you plan for your peak seasons and incorporate holiday promotions and events.
To make this easier, make sure you put all of the important holidays on your calendar. Even lesser holidays, like Groundhog Day, can turn into a fun promotion if you’ve planned.
Need a Marketing Calendar? We Can Help
At ThinkStreet, we handle all of your print, video, and digital marketing needs. We’ll help you evaluate your marketing budget and create a comprehensive marketing calendar specifically for your business needs.