Article Summary: Marketing can be a challenge for many small businesses who might not have the resources to dedicate to a full-blown marketing department. Nevertheless, there is one tool that will help maximize marketing effectiveness with a small team.
The marketing calendar is a great first step to build an integrated and effective marketing effort, regardless of the size of you team or your marketing budget. In this article we'll talk about:
- The benefits of a marketing calendar
- The elements of a good marketing calendar
- How to get started building you calendar
- And how this simple step will help you see great results
Keep reading to learn more.
As a small business owner, you undoubtedly wear multiple hats. You and your staff members maintain an all hands on deck environment to handle everything from operations and sales to human resources. With so many demands on your time, effort and resources, maximizing marketing effectiveness with a small team can be a challenge.
However, promoting your business to both existing and potential customers is also important. The key is to divide marketing tasks among each member of your team, giving priority to those strategies and efforts that hold the potential to generate the most bang for your limited bucks. A marketing calendar represents one of the most effective strategies for executing effective promotions with a small team.
Benefits of a Marketing Calendar
A marketing calendar is just what it sounds like: a timeline for marketing and promotional efforts. Starting a marketing calendar in December for the year ahead is ideal, but don’t dismiss the idea of creating a marketing calendar in March, July, or even later in the year. A marketing calendar accomplishes multiple goals:
- Organizes Marketing Efforts – A marketing calendar simplifies the task of categorizing and assigning marketing tasks among your team members. A calendar also makes it easier to prioritize marketing tasks.
- Discloses Bunches and Gaps in Marketing Schedules – Once you’ve mapped out a marketing calendar, you should have a clear picture of periods where there are large concentrations of activity. Likewise, you should also be able to determine where gaps occur.
- Facilitates Evaluation of Marketing Strategies – A marketing calendar provides a visual record of your company’s promotional efforts. These results can be evaluated the end of the year, or at periodic intervals, to determine which efforts are most effective, and which ones fell flat.
Elements of a Marketing Calendar
There is no one-size-fits-all template for marketing calendars. The specific elements will vary from company to company — and often within the same company. Seasonal variations and market forces also play a role in altering promotional efforts. However there are common elements that belong in every marketing calendar.
- Project or Promotional Names – This can be as simple as “March Promotional Campaign” or as elaborate as a label for an overall branding campaign.
- Launch or “Live” Dates – This element of a marketing calendar includes specific date(s) for various elements of your marketing campaign, for instance, blog post publication schedules, along with deadlines for various elements of each campaign.
- Marketing Frequency – Specifically, how often certain elements of your marketing campaign will be executed. For example, scheduling Twitter or Facebook posts throughout the day.
- Primary Team Member Assignments – One way to ensure an even distribution of marketing tasks is to set out assignments in black and white. An assignment chart for a marketing calendar discloses inequities of assignments among team members.
- Additional Team Members or Contractors – A marketing calendar can also ensure additional team members are assigned where they are needed, or reveal the need for contractors or temporary hires.
- Effectiveness Results and Reports – Effectiveness results can be reported in additional sales, increased customer or client numbers or by whatever measurement is most relevant for your company.
Creating a Marketing Calendar
In a small company, every dollar counts. Therefore allocating your company’s marketing dollars is vital. Aspects to consider in creating a marketing strategy include marketing frequency, targeting peak demand periods such as holidays, promotional tools such as social media, blog posts or SEO content as well as your company’s target audience.
Determine your company’s specific needs. Does your business focus on tangible products or services? Is your market base local, regional, national, or international? Are there seasonal variations in your company’s business volume or demand? Are there specific products that are difficult to move — or services that are seldom used? These questions help disclose your company’s promotional needs — and determine possible targets for marketing campaigns.
You should also make a realistic assessment of the tools you have on hand. Is there someone on staff who is especially skilled at marketing? Do you have high-end equipment on hand, such as a video camera? You may be pleasantly surprised by your company’s hidden advantages.
Once you have determined your company’s marketing needs and the resources you have on hand, much of the work of creating a marketing calendar is already done. Many marketing calendars take the form of either a Word or Excel document. Marketing calendars are frequently based on monthly or weekly intervals over a calendar year, but different time periods may make more sense for your specific company.
Big Results from a Small Team
Marketing and promotional efforts are essential for businesses large and small. However, small business owners often have neither the time, money, nor personnel on hand to carry out an elaborate advertising campaign. Instead, it’s necessary to focus on marketing efforts that generate the effective marketing efforts with limited dollars and personnel. A marketing calendar can make it easier to accomplish more with less.
However, a marketing calendar may reveal that your company needs more resources to carry out an effective promotional campaign. If so, OnDeck has you covered, with term loans and lines of credit for advertising, additional equipment, or contracting the services of a social media guru. Check out our website to learn more.