A strategic marketing plan, with a supporting calendar, should be the first thing on your to do list after you create your business plan, marketing budget, and operating budgets.
Time for Battle
Every war in history began with a plan; not one sports team will get onto the field without going over their strategy to win, and, successful business owners do not deny the use of a well thought-out marketing strategy. You do not want to go into the competitive battle of business without a road map.
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Benjamin Franklin
What is Marketing Anyway?
The American Marketing Association (AMA) defines marketing as the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.
Planning is the most important “process” in building a strong, cohesive winning strategy. Public speakers build an outline of sub-topics before they get on the stage. Prepare your outline to be a leader in your field.
So Many Methods, So Little Time
When you’re not prepared, and your marketing is done piece mail, your best intentions will be overlooked; you will soon be overwhelmed and never reach your goals. Take a big block of time at the beginning to build your annual line of attack, and your dream will become a reality. You can change and alter as you go along based on the results.
The main ingredients: What to Include In Your Plan
The Marketing Calendar
The marketing calendar is your schedule, your timeline, and your compass that will guide you and keep your activities organized. You can use this for the following, or create additional timelines for blogging and social media, if you wish.
- Events and Activities
- Timeline of Tasks
- Task Ownership (including outside vendors)
- National Holidays (with awareness dates to match up promotional ideas)
- Launch Dates for Programs
- Budgets and Staffing
- Networking Events
- Speaking Engagements
- Trade Shows and Expos
- Email Campaigns
- Website Updates
Tracking: If you don’t track the results of your marketing efforts, you won’t have a clue as to what’s working and what’s not. Make a spreadsheet and list your program or event, the budget you allot, and the end result you want to achieve. This will allow you to get a head start on your annual plan for the next year.
Let’s Get Social
FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Blogging in some combination are a must!
We live in a digital age; if you are resistant to what some of the most successful businesses are doing, it’s time to get with the program! Depending on which methods you choose, you need to have a fail-safe plan in place. Without a plan, you are wasting your time, efforts, and marketing budget.
In 2005, about 5% of Americans were linked to at least one site; by 2011, that number rose to half of all Americans, and today, that number is 69%. Your potential clients are included in that 69%.
Elements To Include
- Method (which social media platform)
- Post dates (when you will push the red button)
- Result (did it work?)
If you don’t have systems set up, marketing can easily overwhelm you when you add all of your other responsibilities as a business owner. One of the most common reasons we hear that businesses give up is that they can’t keep up with the pace of handling it all. Effective planning combined with manageable systems can go a long way toward reducing and eventually eliminating the sense of drowning in endless tasks.
Blogging for Dollars
A well planned out content calendar including your blog post schedule is equally important. Your posts will generate traffic to your website and promote your product or service indirectly. If you offer information that will help your clients, or your targeted audience, on a regular basis you will start to build loyalty (and with that comes business and referrals.)
When an effective blogging campaign incorporates excellent information, coupled with incentives for people to opt in to your email database, then you can create lasting relationships with your potential clients. Being of use and serving them from the very beginning builds trust and allows your target market to do business with you gladly and naturally over time, rather than pushing sales and driving what could have been future business away.
Remember to address your potential and current clients during each phase of their buying cycle and customer journey. Many of our clients have stated something like this during their discovery call, “I’ve been following your online posts for quite some time. I knew you were the provider I wanted to work with, this conversation was just a confirmation for me.”
Plan Your Own Marketing Calendar
Grab your free marketing calendar workbook to create your own strategic marketing calendar or re-evaluate your existing efforts. Includes a brainstorming exercise, example marketing activities list (ours!), and more…
Now you are equipped with the ammunition to enter into battle. Take the time to plan and schedule before you pull the trigger on any marketing efforts ornetworking with business peers. Do some homework on your competition. If you require help, you can hire a professional consultant or a virtual assistant. Trust me, you won’t regret it. With proper planning, determination, and follow-through in implementation, your success is a sure-fire thing.