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Craig Greenup 19/10/23, 09:46
Small business marketing is often a bit stop-start. You have a great idea and create a social post, a blog post or a marketing email. But then go for weeks on end without putting anything else out there.
This is a problem – for two key reasons.
When you neglect your marketing, you fall off the radar. Potential customers forget all about you and you miss out on sales.
And when you fail to plan your marketing, it’s a lot less effective. You find it harder to put a strategy into action and get the results you’re looking for.
This is where a marketing calendar – even a basic one – can help. Building a marketing calendar takes a little bit of time. But it’s a good investment. Because, by being organised, you save time in the long run.
In this post we explore a few marketing calendar fundamentals. What is a marketing calendar? Why do you need one? And how do you go about building one?
A marketing calendar is your trusty marketing roadmap. It’s a schedule where you set out what marketing tasks you plan to complete – and when. Usually, a calendar covers marketing activities for the quarter or year ahead.
The best marketing calendars present your marketing activities in an accessible, visual format. And depending on your business marketing strategy, it will include all or some of the following:
Some companies keep it simple – opting for just one master marketing calendar. But if you’re a bigger business with a more complex marketing strategy, breaking things down can help.
Rather than crowding all of your marketing activity onto the same document you can create separate schedules for:
Your marketing calendar can be as detailed or as straightforward as you need it to be. It’s a tool designed to make life easier – not harder. So there’s no need for multiple marketing calendars if your marketing activity is fairly streamlined.
Marketing calendars help you work smarter. Instead of approaching marketing in a piecemeal way, you have a plan to stick to. This makes your marketing much more effective.
When you use a marketing calendar you:
Good marketing takes time. You need to create copy, design graphics, snap pics, shoot video. These are things you can’t rush (unless you want it to be blatantly obvious to your audience). So you need to get started in plenty of time.
When you have a marketing calendar you schedule marketing activities and deadlines well in advance. This helps you to meet milestones.
You can prepare marketing campaigns in time for product launches. Create social posts suited to the changing seasons. And market your business consistently, which helps to build credibility, reputation and trust.
Another point on the topic of consistency. When you have a consistent brand message it’s more likely to hit home. And this is another thing that a marketing calendar can help with.
You get to see exactly what is happening across your business and all marketing channels at any given moment. You can then coordinate your messaging so it has maximum reach and impact.
Marketing calendars keep all team members on the same page. You can assign tasks, manage workflow and get all marketing bods working together.
It’s the same if you work alongside external teams – like an SEO, content creation or web design agency. You can share your marketing calendar with your partners so they know exactly when their deliverables are due.
A marketing calendar helps you stick to your marketing strategy. You design marketing tasks around your business goals and then commit them to paper.
A calendar can also help you to hone your marketing strategy. It provides a reference for all past marketing activity. So if a strategy has been successful you can simply put the same plan into action next year. Or fine-tune to improve things next time round.
The recipe for a successful marketing calendar is pretty straightforward. Once you have a clear idea of your marketing strategy and the marketing channels you want to use, follow these simple steps.
First, you need a tool or platform to craft your marketing calendar. Don’t worry – this doesn’t have to be complicated or costly!
Small businesses can keep things simple with Google Sheets. It’s familiar and easy to use. Plus handy sharing features make it easy to keep all team members on the same page.
If you want more functionality you can opt for marketing calendar tools like Asana, TeamGantt or Monday.com. These tools have a ton of cool features like roadmap creation, workflow visualisation and project management.
You’re planning your marketing activities in advance. But you need to make sure that everything you create is relevant to the time of year.
So the first thing to add to your marketing calendar template is dates. Highlight the changing seasons and big national holidays – like Easter and Christmas.
Depending on your business, other yearly events like Valentine’s Day and the back-to-school season may be important. And don’t forget to add national awareness days, weeks and months, too.
The final dates you need to add to your marketing calendar? Anything specific to your business. That might be a business birthday, a new product launch or a special promotion you have planned for the upcoming year.
This is the most intensive step of building a marketing calendar. Time to input all marketing tasks you want to complete over the next quarter or year.
Separate tasks according to each marketing channel. And break tasks down where relevant. For example, you may plan to publish blog content on a certain date. But before that date, you need to set deadlines for:
Also, decide on the frequency of marketing activities. Will you post to your chosen social media channels multiple times a week? How often will you send marketing emails? By mapping everything out in your calendar you create a consistent and achievable marketing plan.
As well as naming the marketing task and setting a deadline, your marketing calendar should have space for:
That way anyone using your marketing calendar has the info they need to make progress and smash goals.
So you’ve entered all relevant details onto your marketing calendar. Now it’s time to assign tasks to yourself, your employees or agency support.
By clearly assigning each task, there’s never any doubt who is working on what. This improves accountability. And ensure each mini-marketing project progresses smoothly.
Don’t treat your marketing calendar as a fixed document. It should never be set in stone. Revisit your calendar regularly so you can adapt to unexpected opportunities, shifts in strategy and changing priorities.
Once you get the hang of using your marketing calendar, you’ll wonder how you ever survived without one. They’re a simple tool. But they really can make all the difference to your marketing efforts.
Another way to supercharge your small business marketing? Getting the support of a web and graphic design team like Radical. We can create the logos, social media assets and landing pages that help your brand stand out from the crowd.
Get in touch to tell us about your business and find out how we can support your marketing efforts.