Planning Your Marketing Calendar

As part of the Business Development Series by the Alamance County Chamber, North Star Marketing & Communications’ Andy Lynch visited yesterday to speak about how to develop and plan your company’s marketing calendar…

He began by pointing out some very common, and very easy, mistakes made by businesses in their marketing efforts. A lot of companies think of marketing as a series of on going projects rather than an integrated strategy; too often to companies only respond to urgent situations where promotion is needed rather than proactively planning and executing marketing tactics; and another common issues among businesses is getting their ENTIRE team on the same page.

Marketing plans fail because of…

  • lack of plan
  • too spread out
  • lack of structure & consistency
  • lack of funding
  • too ambitious
  • wrong tools being used
  • distraction
  • undervalued
  • wrong people for the job

Businesses must build a strong ‘Marketing Infrastructure’ suitable for any traffic at all, and with a ‘Marketing Mix’ specified for their targeted audience(s). Andy presented this idea plain and simple: a three-legged stool.

“Everyone knows, without either of those three legs, that stool will not stand!”  A strong balance of brand, web, and print can successfully support the weight of both inbound and outbound marketing (marketing mix)….

  • Brand: logo, tagline, colors & fonts, photography, messaging
  • Web: audience, content, design, programming, user control, mobile, support
  • Print: business collateral, signage, logo wares

3 legs of marketing

With a sound infrastructure, you need to determine your marketing mix by segmenting your market… Who are your target markets? Make a list of clients from the last 12 months and determine…

  • What are their specific pain points?
  • What would prompt them to need your product or service?
  • How does your product or service help solve their problems?

Then think…

  • Where are your customers?
  • What do they read, watch, listen to, search the web?
  • Who do they trust?
  • What keywords are they or would they use?
  • Where are they when they discover their need for your solution?

Once you’ve developed your marketing infrastructure and marketing mix, its time to plan your marketing calendar!

According to Andy, you should be tracking two types of activities:

  • Promotions: any marketing activity that prompts a target segment to take action
  • Projects: any activity required to move a marketing promotion forward

When planning promotions, consider the title, point person, description, targeted segment, placement, placement & production costs, start date, end date for each activity. For future projects, be thinking about the title, point person, description, associated promotion, production costs, start/end dates for each one.

Throw out the paper calendar tacked to your wall or the revised spreadsheet that shows up in your inbox twice a day! Use an online calendar instead where you can color code your projects and promotions, as well as each targeted segment, align all of your activities, plan 12-18 months ahead… all in REAL TIME! Your entire team can log into Google Calendar, for instance, and see what changes or updates have been made to your marketing calendar right away!!

Other marketing tips to keep in mind:

  • Carefully map out your content in your calendar at least 30 days in advance! 90 if possible.
  • Coordinate your blog posts, social media updates, broadcast emails, hardcopy newsletters, press releases, mailers, etc. in that same calendar

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