7 Steps for Creating a Small Business Marketing Calendar That Delivers Results
For small businesses, digital marketing delivers many benefits. It helps to develop relationships with customers and keep them updated with a personalized experience, and quality content helps your business to gain referrals and grow a loyal customer base.
But delivering quality content that engages your audience consistently can be challenging. The people in a small business are pulled in many directions.
This is where a marketing calendar pays dividends. It can help you answer questions like:
- What marketing projects are we working on?
- Who is in charge of each project and task?
- When are your projects due?
A marketing calendar will also help you anticipate potential problems or gaps in your company’s marketing plan.
In short, a marketing schedule helps you to stay organized, producing quality content consistently in a cohesive campaign.
Here’s how to create your unique marketing calendar in seven steps.
Step #1: Choose your format
A calendar can be in various formats ─ spreadsheets, Google calendar, printable, or apps like CoSchedule. You can choose whichever format you are comfortable with and that works best for you:
The spreadsheet is an easy way to manage all your marketing activities on one page, but it might be time-consuming to keep updated.
Google Calendar is popular because it syncs with other calendars like Outlook and Apple Calendar ─ but it, too, requires a lot of manual inputting of data.
Printable calendars are good if you have limited access to technology but are less effective if you need to update and refer to them often.
Apps like CoSchedule offer a more visual approach to managing your marketing calendar, making it easier for you and your team members to see what needs to be done when without having to spend time looking up due dates in a long list of tasks.
Step #2: Consider your audience
Now, to the content. The first thing here is to define the audience for which you are creating content. Who is your ideal client? Build up a mental picture of him/her/them as you answer questions such as:
- Buying habits
- Socioeconomic status
Knowing your customer intimately will help you to define the kind of content you should be offering to your customers.
Step #3: Use the SMART method to define your marketing goals
The SMART method is a process of defining goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. This technique helps to focus on the most important goals to achieve to have a successful marketing campaign.
To increase customer engagement by 10% within the next three months.
We will measure this by counting the number of customer engagement posts we have made on social media networks in the last three months.
Yes, we will make sure that we post at least one engagement post per week for the next three months.
Yes, this is an achievable goal, as our current average is four posts per month and there are 12 weeks in three months.
Give yourself a deadline by which to complete this goal so you have an incentive to stay focused on it.
Step #4: Define your content marketing strategy
A content marketing strategy is not a one-size-fits-all document. The best approach is to start with a high-level overview of your objectives and goals and then break them down into specific tactics that will help you map the customer journey. To do this:
- Start with a blank 12-month plan
- Chart the selling cycle and seasonality of your product/service (for example, when do you start marketing for Black Friday and Cyber Monday? What holiday promotions are you planning?)
- Determine the platforms you’ll be using
- Document the details of your planned marketing events
- Notate market research opportunities
- Include costs and deadlines
Step #5: Make sure to include the following activities
As you build out your marketing calendar, it is crucial to take a strategic view. How will you reach your target audience? Which type of content should you produce and publish? How will you support your content production? Here are seven elements that you should consider within your diary:
Events (e.g. webinars)
Content marketing (social media posts, emails, blog posts, vlogs or YouTube videos, case studies, newsletter blasts, podcasts, white papers, eBooks)
Email marketing campaigns
Social media campaigns
Public relations/media relations
Point of purchase displays
Step #6: Determine who, what, and how
During a brainstorming session, figure out:
Who will contribute to your content?
What will be your content topics?
Working titles of your content pieces
What supplementary media will be needed (for example, infographics)
The marketing channels you will use to distribute your content
Step #7: Analyze and document the outcomes of your plan for future reference
Marketing is a process of building relationships with customers. It’s essential to analyze and document the outcomes of your marketing plan for future reference, to improve and deliver better results. By doing this, you can develop a blueprint as a guide to successful strategies and tactics for campaigns that follow.
However, you should also remember that marketing plans must be flexible enough to adapt to changes in the market, competition, or customer needs. They should also provide a clear picture of the relationships between different parts of your business, its marketing teams, and how they must interact to maximize the potential of your content marketing efforts.
Start planning your marketing calendar today
An effective marketing plan is crucial to your success. But that first plan can be challenging to create. Download our Content Marketing Calendar template to help you with your first steps. It’s important not to get overwhelmed by all the elements you must include in your marketing calendar.
When we work with clients, we help them overcome this overwhelm. We get to understand your business, and create a calendar template that is unique to you, focused on your business goals, and building a loyal customer base that will develop into viral advocacy of your products and/or services.
To book a live demo and see BlabberJax in action, click here.