Are you a planner? Do you treat your small business as a big corporation does? If you don’t, you should. And one way to tackle this is to create a marketing calendar. A marketing calendar is a way to evaluate your business and determine where it’s going. Recently I created a marketing calendar and have seen tremendous results already! So first I want to share a simple way of creating one.
Think of creating a calendar like chiseling a big rock. You start off with a giant boulder, which is your overall goal. Then you widdle it down to create more definitive steps to achieve your overall goal.
Step #1: Determine your overall goal
It can be something than can be achieved within 1 year or 5 years. But if it’s something that can be done in less than 1 year, it’s something that’s probably a step towards your overall goal. So take some time and think about this; where do you want your business to be? Do you want to be in 5 retail shops by years end? Do you want to make your side business your full-time business? Think about it and write it down.
Step #2: Break it down annually
What are you going to do this year to achieve your overall goal? What are 5-7 big things that need to happen?
Step #3: Now break it down monthly
Start with just one month and think, what do I have to accomplish in [insert month] to help make my goal a reality? Once you finish one month, the rest will start to flow effortlessly and soon you will have your entire year planned.
Step #4: Break it down further
This is something you want to evaluate on a weekly basis. More than likely your business is a one person shop, so hold a business meeting with yourself and determine what you need to accomplish this week to help meet your monthly goal. Accomplish. Rinse. Repeat.
Step #5: Determine your daily action steps
There is nothing too small here. The night before or first the in the morning, determine what you will accomplish that day. But make sure each step is in line with your weekly, monthly, annual and over business goal.
Have I lost you yet? Stick with me here because here are 3 reasons why you should create one.
I’ll admit, before I had a calendar I came up with an idea and within 1-2 days it was on the market. Luckily this system, or lack thereof, hasn’t hurt my business but in the long run it could have detrimental effects. By having a marketing calendar you are able to plan out, typically a year in advance, what you will accomplish and how you will get there.
For example, let’s say you sell stationery and you came up a brand new product. In your head you love it and are so excited about getting in your shop you quickly take photos and bam, it’s out there. People start flocking to your site and buying it left and right. But now you have a ton of orders but encountered a problem, you haven’t thought through packaging, shipping, turnaround time and the list goes on. But had you used a marketing calendar, you could schedule your product release, test it out and even develop a marketing campaign.
The dreaded “B” word! Yes, we all should have a business budget and having a marketing calendar will help tremendously in this aspect of your business. You are able to schedule product releases, plan for buying advertisements or even hire a PR rep to help with your new product launch. Having each cashflow planned you are able to set aside adequate funds to maintain balance.
Preparing for the future and having a solid plan can eliminate any stress running a business may cause. The exercise alone of creating a marketing calendar will help you anticipate any hurdles that may arise. For example, after the holidays sales are slow. Knowing this ahead of time will allow you to plan for more product releases during the slower periods to compensate for the busy times of the year.
Now that you know how and why you should have a marketing calendar, here are some helpful tips to get you started.
1. Keep it visible – Having a marketing calendar in your notebook or a computer file is terrific but it’s not a constant reminder of what you need to do and where you’re headed. So keep it visible. Get a cork board and print out each month and tack it up. Or get a wall calendar, like I did. But whatever you choose to do, make sure you can see it all the time!
2. Review…review…review – There is no point in having your business plan laid out when you don’t review what worked and what didn’t. And as the year progresses, your circumstances may change and your overall business goal(s) may have to shift focus. So take time, at the very least, monthly to review your progress and make any necessary changes.
3. Keep it simple – Having any type of complicated system will be your biggest hurdle to creating one and maintaining it. So I advise using a simple calendar. Less is more in this situation.
Would love to hear if you use a marketing calendar and if you found it helpful.