Do you ever feel overwhelmed by all the marketing and social media options out there? What should you be doing first? How much time will it take and when should you start your campaigns? Blogging, tweeting, emailing…your brain is so full you don’t know where to begin! Sound familiar? You’re not alone! As small business owners, we necessarily wear a lot of hats — it’s just the way it is. Even if you have an amazing team of people working for you, you still need a plan to guide them. The problem is, many of us are already working full-on with precious spare time, so important stuff can often get left to the last minute causing energy-draining stress and frustration.

Enter your saviour: The Marketing Calendar! Imagine a step-by-step road map that itemizes exactly how to get you where you want to go…a smart, organized way to plan and implement all your marketing and social media. It’s by far the best way to get stuff done! And it can be as high-tech or low-tech as you like, from a detailed Excel spreadsheet to a hand-written calendar. Personally, I prefer a combination of a printable document that can be shared via email and a large, highly-visible, dry-erase wall calendar mapped out with coloured markers and stickers for EVERYONE in the office to see.

The first step is getting creative
The first step is coming up with promotional themes or events to promote throughout the year. Brainstorm all the marketing ideas that make sense for your business, then narrow it down to the best twelve ideas (approximately one main theme every month). Yes, you could easily come up with more ideas but keep in mind that you can’t do everything. Balance your marketing workload with all of the other things you need to do for your business. Plan for what you can do completely, not halfway. You’ll feel far more successful that way. Also be sure to plan for what you feel comfortable with emotionally and financially — that will add to your overall sense of accomplishment. You can always push your marketing boundaries further when you feel confident that you can pull off more with ease.

Next, chunk it down
Next, chunk down each of your themes into possible activities. For example, let’s say your a couples’ therapist and your theme for the month of February might be a Valentine’s Day/Relationship promotion. Possible activities could range from an on-site event to a daily ‘love’ newsletter with tips to help couples re-ignite their passion. You could work up to February 14th as your event date or use the whole month as a reason to promote your services. Either way, work backwards from your goal date and list all the items you need to complete to ramp up to it. Once you have that list ready, prioritize each activity with a colour-coded system (and the name of the team member doing the task, if that applies) and write them onto your dry-erase calendar. That way, when you look at your wall calendar each morning, you’ll know exactly what needs doing and when — eliminating any anxious guesswork from your day.

Five awesome benefits of a Marketing Calendar
Using a marketing calendar allows you to do five key things with your marketing and your business:

  1. It organizes, categorizes and prioritizes your marketing initiatives and activities taking a major load off your mind (and helping you keep your sanity = priceless)!
  2. It allows you to spot ‘bunches’ and gaps in your marketing activity. There will be natural busy times (‘bunches’) as a result of seasons in your business and/or trends in your customers’ buying habits. However, there may be some major gaps that you can easily identify and fill in with an action to stay connected with your customers and prospects during slower times.
  3. It helps you stick to your guns and be consistent with your marketing — which is key to staying top of mind in your consumers’ awareness! Having a visual marketing plan, chunked down by execution date, theme, activity and who’s doing what will make it that much easier to complete it all.
  4. It’s a fantastic way to track and evaluate your marketing efforts to know what works and what doesn’t — saving you time and money in the future. At the end of the year, or any other period of time you choose, rate individual activity and initiative items. You can use a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being spectacular and 1 being a flop. The real value of this activity is that you’ll know what to repeat when you plan your marketing for the next period. And you’ll have the experience to fix, modify or tweak the marketing that scored in the middle and eliminate the activities that didn’t work at all — saving you precious time and money.
  5. It helps simplify all the ideas orbiting your brain, bringing you greater ease and peace with getting everything DONE!

That’s really all there is to organizing your marketing and social media with a marketing calendar. Remember to keep it simple and do what works for your business. If a monthly event is too much, then plan something quarterly. The key is discerning what you can reliably do on a regular basis. Once you establish your marketing calendar, keep it up. Consistent marketing always wins out. Planned, consistent marketing with effective implementation wins out even more! And if you didn’t implement a marketing calendar when you first launched your business, don’t sweat it or beat yourself up. There’s no time like the present to start. So, here’s to an organized, ease-filled and successful 2013!

Join us for our next ‘Creating Your Marketing Calendar’ Meetup and stay tuned for details on a new monthly coaching group focused on supporting business owners to brainstorm, plan and implement their marketing calendar by visiting www.meetup.com/Empower-By-Design.

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