Use A Marketing Calendar For Business Growth

Does working on a marketing plan make you feel overwhelmed? The use of a marketing calendar for business growth should be an essential part of your arsenal. When you create a plan you remove the need to think about what to do each month. Whether you use an agency or a contractor, Audrey will provide some tips and tricks in this episode to get even the most disorganized person feeling great about planning their content each month.

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Seasonal Business Podcast

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Use A Marketing Calendar For Business Growth Transcription

Announcer:

Welcome to Marketing Strategies with Audrey Kerchner, sponsored by Inkyma, taking your small business to the next level with proven creative solutions designed to grow your awareness and connect to your customers. Now, here’s Audrey.

Audrey Kerchner:

Hi there and welcome. This is Audrey Kerchner, Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Strategist here at Inkyma. Inkyma is a full-service marketing agency and we bring that big agency process and feel to the small business community. We do marketing strategy, branding, website design and hosting, content marketing, search engine optimization, social media marketing and digital advertising. To learn more about what we do, ask a question or schedule a marketing evaluation for your business, go to our website Inkyma.com. That’s I-N-K-Y-M-A.com. If you’re a new listener or you’re back for more, welcome. I really appreciate everyone listening. If you haven’t listened to other episodes, because we have quite a few out there, everything’s available on your favorite podcast platform or you can listen to them on our website at Inkyma.com and we also have mall up on YouTube now, so listen where you like.

Audrey Kerchner:

So this week, I’m going to talk about marketing calendars and this topic was a special request from Jen Draper, a business coach that I know. She and I were chit-chatting and I was asking her, “So what are a lot of the things that you talk to your clients about from a marketing perspective?” Because business coaching and marketing share a beautiful gray area where coaches dip into marketing and marketers dip into business coaching. This was like her top three. So thanks Jen, I appreciate it and I hope that this will help you with your clients in the future. You can just kind of point them to it and they can learn all about marketing calendars. So if anyone else has questions or suggestions for topics, definitely go to our website and submit it through the contact form and we’ll take a look at it there.

Audrey Kerchner:

Now, let’s talk about marketing calendars, what they are, why you need them, because they’re not the most favorite thing of everybody’s to fill out. Nobody wakes up in the morning and says, “Hey, I want to go fill out a marketing calendar,” but they’re extremely useful tools when you’re trying to grow a business. Marketing’s all about consistency and it’s about execution, really about being consistent with your execution if we really get down to tax on that. So if you’re consistently marketing your business from a solid plan, you’re going to grow and a marketing calendar can help you be consistent and really also help you get really great content, hopefully the best content you can create for your business, because you get to break out the thought process of a marketing plan into small chunks or into small blocks. By doing that, you get better content and better content leads to more growth.

Audrey Kerchner:

That’s really the simple explanation. Let’s talk about why you need a marketing calendar. What’s beneficial about it? Once you’ve created your strategy and your tactics and you’ve defined both of them, which if you need some support for that, please go back and listen to episode one. I talk all about what strategy versus tactics and why you really need to start with strategy first so that you don’t do the wrong tactics. Once you’ve created those, a marketing calendar really lets you at first plan what to do when and that’s that first chunk or that first block and it removes the need to plan on a day-to-day, week-to-week level, so you kind of get all the planning out of the way and then you can focus on content and that makes it easier to figure everything out. It also makes it manageable. As business owners, we’re constantly getting pulled in nine different directions.

Audrey Kerchner:

Sometimes we have to worry about IT stuff. Sometimes we have to worry about employees. Sometimes we have to spend time on growth planning. What you want to be able to do is sit down when you’re ready to sit down on your marketing and go, “Oh, everything’s all right there. I know I need to do this, this, this and this,” and that’s what the marketing calendar allows you to do. It creates those blocks of time to focus on the creation piece. It also keeps you organized. You may sit down in January and plan out a bunch of things for the year. And unless you put it into a marketing calendar, you’re not going to remember. And hopefully, you don’t scribble it on the back of a napkin that accidentally gets thrown away in two months.

Audrey Kerchner:

The other nice thing about marketing calendars is if you have an agency or you have employees that do this on your behalf or you have other contractors, like maybe you have someone solely dedicated to social media marketing, if you create this plan for the entire company, then you can hand that to someone and then they will actually create better content on your behalf because of the fact that they have more knowledge. The more you give them, the better they’re going to produce on your behalf. The nice thing about if you hired an agency, they will actually create that plan for you and then all you have to do is review and approve the plan so that they can execute it or someone else can execute it. That’s that delegation process. So even if you’re not planning on doing your own marketing, it’s worthwhile to create that marketing calendar along with your plan so that you can get better results.

Audrey Kerchner:

Now, let’s talk about the types of things you can put on this marketing calendar. Sometimes people think, “Oh, I need a calendar for all these different things.” The way I like to think about it is there’s one calendar that really rules them all. If you put it all in one place, then you can look at something for an entire week and say, “Oh, I need to do this for this part of my marketing and I need to do that for my other parts of my marketing.” I want to walk through with you all the different types of things that you could put on this calendar. Let’s start out with blog content or editorial content. These are your blog articles that will go on your website. Maybe you’re going to use them for other things, but let’s talk about content creation first.

Audrey Kerchner:

The way to use the calendar for this is to decide how many articles you want to write per month throughout the entire year. Maybe it’s two articles, maybe it’s three, maybe you’re really gung ho and you want to do four articles per week. That’s all well and good, that’s what you put on the calendar. I also suggest to put in your topic, a high level description of what it is for at least six months worth, if not for the full entire year, so that when you sit down to write content, all you’re doing is worrying about writing content, you’re not worried about trying to think of what to write about because that’s usually the stumbling point for people is to try to figure out what to write about. But if you can do that high level thought process all at one time, it makes it easier for you.

Audrey Kerchner:

The next thing is email marketing. So whether you’re doing newsletters, monthly, bi-monthly, or maybe you have some sales funnels or maybe you have some specific email campaigns to support specials throughout the year, you need to add all of your email sending to the calendar as well. Pick the days that you’re actually going to send the newsletter. And if your blog articles are part of your newsletter, this is when the magic starts to happen. You can put in specific days for when you’re going to write articles and then specific days on when you’re going to create the newsletter itself and when it should be published. Keeping those separate on the calendar is important because blog articles and newsletters are not the same thing, they can be very different. For example, you may send out an email newsletter that doesn’t have the blog article in it, or it has the blog article, some additional information like a quiz or a fun test, depending on your business, and or a special offer.

Audrey Kerchner:

You may have additional types of emails that go out in addition to your newsletter and you don’t want them to overlap or make someone feel like they’re getting too many emails from you at one time. Let’s see. You’re running a special promotion to a certain subset of your newsletter or your email list, you don’t want it to hit the same exact day that your newsletter does. One should go out Monday, the other one should go out Thursday and then on and on. You may also have different lists that you send different things to. Email sending can get much more complicated than just article writing. Same thing with the sales funnel piece of it is you may have an onboarding sales funnel that you send out to all brand new customers and you may not want your newsletters to start going out to those folks until after they finished the funnel. You can set all of that up in your calendaring system as well.

Audrey Kerchner:

Now, let’s move on to advertising, doing digital ads or even print ads or both. I recommend keeping all of your advertising pieces together when you’re scheduling them out because sometimes they complement each other. You may run a postcard for a special and then you want a digital ad to support the postcard that is going out so that those folks that are part of your target audience see it in both places. There’s nothing wrong with doubling up on that exposure. I have some clients where every quarter we change their ad. It may be changing the special, it may be changing the offer and maybe talking about a seasonality change. So for example, an auto mechanic business that we work with is we have a first quarter, second quarter, third and fourth quarter offer. The fourth quarter offer is going to be about winter. The first quarter offer can be about getting ready for spring. The summertime offer is about getting ready for vacation travel.

Audrey Kerchner:

All of that gets planned out at the beginning of the year and what we put on the calendar is not only the date that each one should launch, but the lead time that we need to produce all the content that’s part of the ad. That could be the postcard, it could be a video, it could be images. We’re going to talk a little bit more later about lead time, so keep that one in the back of your head there because lead times are extremely important. That’s where the magic of the calendar really comes into play when you’re talking about launch dates and lead dates. The next area I want to talk about are events. All businesses have some type of an event that they plan for during the year or they should, whether it’s an in-store event, an online event or you’re taking your business to another venue.

Audrey Kerchner:

That event could be a selling at a show or going to an expo where you’re trying to generate leads for your business or create strategic business partnerships like conventions or educational pieces and you need to be prepared for all of those because you didn’t spend the money to create the event for it not to go off as well as possible. Of course, there’s seasonality to your business that you have to consider here. What you want to do is put all of those events on your calendar, figure out exactly what you want to do to support those events and put that on there as well. Something that’s like an undercurrent of all of these are offers. You’re going to have offers for your event advertising email, but sometimes these offers thread through one or many of them, depending on what you’re doing.

Audrey Kerchner:

If you’ve got a holiday show coming up and you get a booth at a craft Bazaar or at a high-end retail boutique, in a hotel and then you’re still doing stuff in your store and you’re doing items online, do you want the same offers to be thread through all three areas or do you want different offers for different locations? Do you want something a little more exclusive for the in-person, one day or two day event that you’re not offering online? Part of figuring that out gets put on the calendar too because they’re all going to go off at a different time and your offering is going to be different for them and the calendar is a really great place to keep track of all that. This is why calendars are important. In the next section, we’re actually going to talk about calendar creation because a calendar is not useful unless you know how to create one and then maintain it and execute based off of it.

Audrey Kerchner:

You’re listening to Marketing Strategies and I’m Audrey Kirchner. We’re talking about how to use a marketing calendar for business growth. If you have any marketing questions or ideas for topics that you want to share, please go to our website, Inkyma.com. That’s I-N-K-Y-M-A.com, and fill out the contact form at the bottom of any page. When your calendar is complete, you should be able to go to any week of any month and know exactly what you need to do that week to keep your marketing strategy on point and moving forward. This is a great warm feeling that all of us business owners get when we know, “Okay, I don’t have to worry about that. I can focus on something else if there’s a different fire,” and then I come back to this and I’m ready to move on it. Again, another great reason to have a calendar, but how do you get there?

Audrey Kerchner:

How do you get to that warm and fuzzy feeling? Let’s walk through the beginning steps and what you need to do to create a calendar. I’m also going to give you an example of kind of what one looks like for a business so that it can really kind of get stuck in your head a little bit. The first thing I want you to do is you need to create a calendar, 12 months, 52 week calendar. I recommend a calendar year, unless your business has a very specific calendar where you’re from July to June because of the type of business you have. But most of us, January to December works totally fine. If you do a different fiscal calendar and for budgetary reasons you need to go for different timeframe, use what worked for you. Now, you could use Excel or you could use Google Sheets, but what I recommend and what I like to really use is to create a free Gmail account that’s dedicated to your marketing program and use the calendar feature that comes with it.

Audrey Kerchner:

Call it your company name marketing@gmail.com. This is so much easier than having to either get a template for Excel or filling stuff in because it’s pretty much done for you. All you have to do is fill it out. It has all the abilities for notification reminders. If there are other people that need to be involved in a specific task or event, you can actually invite them to that calendar event. You can even attach the calendar to your personal calendar so that they show up in two different places, but it’s still separate from yours and there’s a ton of other things that you can do with it too, so that’s why I recommend a Google calendar versus you creating a spreadsheet. Once your calendar is created, and you’ve got that lovely blank slate sitting in front of you, you need to decide what type of marketing campaigns and tactics you’re going to do for that 12 month period. Before you do that, make sure your strategy is in place, then I want you to start listing out tactics.

Audrey Kerchner:

What are the things you want to do to achieve the goals that you’ve created? Those could be tactics. They can be events. For example, an in-store Mother’s Day shopping event for husbands and kids so that mom gets something wonderful. When is that event going to be? Probably the three to four weeks leading up to Mother’s Day so that the gift gets purchased before Mother’s Day because that’s always more successful than after and then figure out what types of things you’re going to do to promote that. That’s the best place to start and you can do that on a different sheet of paper. Just list them all out, general idea when they’re going to be. The next thing you want to do is also as part of that, figure out the seasonality of your business. Do you do a lot for Christmas? Is that a big season for you? Maybe you don’t have a common season, maybe the vacation season, which is June, July, and August is really big because of either where you live or the type of service you’re providing.

Audrey Kerchner:

You’re a travel agent. You’re a dog kennel. They’ve got a lot of seasonality, believe it or not, so figure out what that is and make sure that gets added to your events and tactics as well. Another trick that I like, it’s a visual trick, for calendars is color-coding the different types of events. And depending on the type of events that you’re putting in or the way you’re doing it, color-code it to what makes sense for you. It may be that if you’re hugely seasonal, then creating a campaign for each season and that has a color and all its surrounding tactics, which would include advertising, social media, blog writing, is one color. Or you may just have evergreen, ongoing campaigns that you just keep doing and you plug in different content there. That’s where you can make social media one color. Blog writing another. Advertising a third one. Website updates a fourth.

Audrey Kerchner:

Figure out what works best for you and then color code them. ‘Cause that way when you’re looking at a week, you’ll know exactly what you’re working on when visually, as well as with the rest of the team. Now that you have all of those items, the tactics, the events, put all of that on the calendar. Put the events, the date that they’re supposed to arrive. The event date, so like Christmas, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, first quarter. Add, change, launch, put those on there. Then put the lead time of how long it’s going to take to produce all the items that you need for that day. If it’s an event like Mother’s Day, you need to also put the lead time in there for how long things are supposed to run. Because obviously, if you’re running Mother’s Day ad, you’re not going to start the ads on Mother’s Day, you’re going to start them two to three weeks ahead of time.

Audrey Kerchner:

If you have an in-person event, when are you going to send out invitations? Usually two weeks before. Four weeks may be too much. One week is not enough. Two weeks could be the sweet spot for that. You’ll know anecdotally if you’ve ever run these type events before what you need to put there. That’s the next wave. Again, what I touched on before, social media writing for posts, blog article topics, maybe titles for newsletters, put that all into the description area of the event that you’ve created so that when you sit down, you know exactly what you’re writing for. Fill in as much as you can so that when you’re sitting down week-to-week, you know what you need to do. Now, let’s walk through an example of how all of this comes together for one specific type of business.

Audrey Kerchner:

Let’s talk about a jewelry business. A jewelry business is going to a show, an in-person event, August 15th. One-day event, big, big sales. They’re going to have a bunch of people there that are really, really interested in jewelry. That event, the signing up for that event, even though it’s an August, could very well have happened in January or from August of the previous year. Sometimes these events, they book out a year in advance, so there’s a lot of prep time. As soon as the event gets booked, the owner then sits down and figures out what needs to be done when for their calendar. The event date, boom, gets put right in. August 15th. Then they figure out what their goals are for the event. What do they want to achieve? Is it a sales goal as a primary goal and then a getting as many leads as possible as a secondary goal so that they can get more people to follow social media, get more people onto their email list? What are those goals?

Audrey Kerchner:

Then based on those goals, what tactics need to be created? Does a website update need to happen so that anybody coming to the website knows when it’s going to be? Newsletters go out, special articles written about the benefits of going to a show like this from the attendee’s perspective. Social media post, digital advertising, because you want your warm audience to come, which is your newsletter and your social people, and then you want to attract brand new people as well with advertising. Once you figured out those tactics, flow those in from the date backwards. When do you want the website updates to go live? They should go live on July 1st. If the website update goes live on July 1st, when does the work need to start? Two weeks before, three weeks before, then you do the same thing with the newsletter.

Audrey Kerchner:

I want the newsletters to go out a month before. I want the social hosts to start a month before. I want the ads to start out a month before. Let’s say as part of the newsletters, you want to do a special invitation email that goes out to a subset of your email list. When should that go out? Two weeks before. How long is it going to take to plan? This is where I’m talking about launch dates and lead time. Launch dates are when you want that specific campaign to go live. Lead time is when you need to start production of that tactic so that it does launch on time. This trips up a lot of business owners and frankly a lot of marketing companies too because they never estimate time correctly and it’s a really, really hard thing to do.

Audrey Kerchner:

So if you think you need two days, give yourself four, but make sure you’re giving yourself lead time. I always hear, “Oh, I forgot about this and I know I need to work on it because it’s coming up next week,” and then everyone is scrambling and that scrambling doesn’t create the best work product. Giving people extra time, giving them think time, collaboration time to move back and forth on things, edit, is really what you need so make sure you’re getting your lunch dates, your lead time in there. That is basically how you do it. Hopefully, I’ve gotten you excited about creating a marketing calendar, maybe more excited than you were before when we started, but this information isn’t any good to you unless you take action on it.

Audrey Kerchner:

Let’s talk about the things I want you to do next so that you can actually embrace this concept and implement it in your business. First thing I want to tell you is start small. If you’ve never done a marketing calendar before, then don’t go and try to create the entire thing all at one time. For every little thing that you’re doing or all the things you want to plan on doing, pick one channel, pick one tactic, pick one event. Choose something that’s going to be really great for your business and that you’re going to be inspired to create it for. It could be the up-and-coming holiday season in December if you’re listening to this in August or it could be the planets aligned and you just signed up for this big, huge event and you want to make the most of it. Great, that’s what you start with. Get that all set up on the calendar first before you move on to adding in the other things like your blogging and your website and your social media.

Audrey Kerchner:

Get familiar with it first. So then create that master calendar, put that one event on it. First, put the event on and then figure out the tactics that you’re going to do to support that event. Put the dates that you want those events to launch and then put in the lead time of when they need to start, whether you’re starting it or someone else is starting it. Color code it and then make sure all the people that need to have access to it have access to it. Then once the calendar’s done, make sure you have some type of notification process set up so that if you’re scheduled on Tuesday to write a blog article or someone else on the team is scheduled on Tuesday to write the blog article that they get some type of notification to write that blog article. That’s where the power of the calendar comes in because you can set people invitations and notifications and that notification can be set days in advance. It doesn’t have to be 10 minutes before like a traditional meeting, so make sure the reminder mechanisms are in place.

Audrey Kerchner:

Now that you have your calendar created, you have that one event on there, you’ll start to see how easy it is for you to then execute all of those things. In summary, a marketing calendar is going to make your life easier overall. You’re going to feel less overwhelmed about the marketing of your business. You’re also going to have clarity, not just for you, but anyone on your team that is supporting you with the marketing effort of the business. And that is basically it. I hope this information is helpful to you and I hope you’re going to finish listening to this and go and start your brand new calendar.

Audrey Kerchner:

Here at Inkyma, we like to give back to the business community. I provide a free 45 minute marketing consultation to any business owner, whether you’re looking for a marketing agency, having a website built or want support and help with creating your marketing calendar for your up and coming year. We could talk about whatever you want to talk about. So just go to the website Inkyma.com, I-N-K-Y-M-A.com, in the upper right-hand corner is a button to schedule a marketing evaluation. Pick your date and time and you’re on my calendar. If you just have a question or a suggestion about a show topic, at the bottom of every page is a contact form. You can fill that out and those all come directly to me as well. Hopefully, this episode was inspiring for you. If you’re talking to other business owners and they want similar types of information, educational marketing, please share the podcast because the purpose of this is to help all small businesses grow and learn the right way to market their business. Thanks for listening and have an amazing day.

Announcer: Thanks for listening to a Marketing Strategy, sponsored by Inkyma. Online at Inkyma.com. Listen to Marketing Strategies every Saturday at 7:30 on KPPF.

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