Don’t Throw Spaghetti – Build a Marketing Calendar
It’s a new year and you’re ready to focus on your marketing with some new tools and new energy—excellent! Whether you’re in your first year or your second decade, you need to find new customers. Marketing builds awareness of your company so you can start creating relationships to nurture for years to come.
Newer small businesses often use a spaghetti-throwing approach to marketing. Then, they wait for customers to come clamoring for their products and services and can’t understand why it doesn’t happen.
There are a few key rules to marketing – repetition, strong branding, and clear guidelines for future clients. Your next customers need to learn about you over time, in a variety of ways, before you can break through the noise of all the messages everyone is getting every day. Something like 3,000 ads cross a person’s radar in a typical day, so repeating your offerings and continually guiding people toward your website and store are critical if you want prospective customers to get to know you.
We know that you have 17 other responsibilities as an entrepreneur that take your mind off marketing. So, the best way to create and execute a successful marketing plan over time is to sit down and build a marketing calendar.
A marketing calendar is a roadmap that will make your marketing less scrambled and chaotic and more thoughtful and organized. Every week, you’ll know what you need to execute for the week to keep potential clients aware of and learning more about you and your business.
Start with a strong understanding of your target market. If your ideal customer is Gen Z sports enthusiasts, you’ll have a very different approach than if you’re targeting Gen X moms. Where they get their information and what social media they use are different. Who they trust to give them advice is different. Make sure you know exactly who you want to reach online and in your community.
Then, identify the various media sources you’ll use to reach your target market:
- Which social media outlets?
- Any radio stations or podcast advertising?
- What about community events or partnerships?
- Do you need to do some market research?
- Is your reach this year local, regional, or national?
- Will you collect emails and how will you use them to reinforce your message?
Finally, consider straight up advertising in dozens of formats. Where will your target audience be so that you can get in front of them repeatedly in Q1?
Your marketing calendar should show a map of when, where and how customers will learn about your unique offerings and how those solutions solve problems they’re having right now.
Here is a sample marketing calendar template but you can find dozens of templates online or create your own. The key is that it focuses on your target audience and reaches them with specific messages over a distinct period of time.
Finally, before you execute the plan, consider how you’ll be able to measure your success – in addition to sales. Can you track clicks on ads or on landing pages? Do you have your website analytics set up to measure increased traffic from specific locations? Can you count people coming through the door at your shop before and after the campaign? At the end of every campaign, review what worked, what didn’t, and make adjustments for the next campaign so you can become more and more efficient and successful every quarter of the year!