Now it may seem obvious that every business needs a marketing plan but not every business has one or if they do it's often not mapped out on their calendar so it never really gets implemented as planned. This means the results are likely to be less than predicted and a lot less than desired so disappointment and frustration is often the outcome.
So, to be successful a marketing plan needs planning - followed by implementation! And creating your marketing calendar is the secret to that successful implementation.
Creating your marketing calendar means you can make sure there are no gaps or overload. Having this in place also means you can maximise the time available to create the most income while at the same time you will avoid getting overcommitted or overwhelmed.
Step 1: Get support
It's hard work and takes a lot of discipline to do this on your own and unless you're the lone ranger type my advice is to find a colleague or a coach to tackle this with you. Having a supportive person to brainstorm and act as a sounding board will be invaluable. Choose this person carefully and be clear about your objectives and their role in helping you accomplish the task.
Use a system to keep you on track. It will be a whole lot quicker and a lot more fun!
Step 2: Get attached emotionally.
Really understand at a heart level the value you bring to your clients and their lives or business and 'see' how your marketing will make it possible for you and them to connect. Without that connection you won't get what you want and neither will they. See marketing as the link and you'll be motivated to create your calendar as well as excited about implementing it. Procrastination will be a thing of the past.
Step 3: Decide your income goals
Having an income target is the first step to designing your marketing activities for the year. This will ensure your final plan is structured so that collectively the programs or events you run will bring the return on investment you want. It is a critical factor in determining which programs to run and when.
Naturally, you will plan for an increase on last year's income (if not then get some coaching around this). Simply decide how much and make it a stretch otherwise you'll find yourself doing pretty much what you've done in the past and that's no way to grow your business.
My tip is to make your decision from where you want your business to be - not where you are now. This will force you to do things differently and that's the only way you can change results.
Step 4: Review your programs and services.
Decide what you will be offering. Review your current programs and services and see if it's time to create new, retire or revamp old offerings. Remember what marketing legend Dan Kennedy has to say about this - the fastest and easiest way to add more money to your bottom line is to do what you are doing now but look at your fees and how your services are put together. In other words simply price and package what you are already doing, a little differently to increase your income without adding to your expenditure,
Once that's clear the next step is simple.
Step 5: Create your marketing calendar
Once you have decided what programs and packages you'll be offering it's time to look at how and when to promote them. This is where the rubber hits the road - mapping the possibilities across to your marketing calendar and blocking out that time visually is the objective.
I use a one year calendar showing each of the 12 months ruled off to 4 weeks so it's a one page view. The year at a glance.
Start by blocking out time for holidays and other known commitments and begin filling in the possibilities taking into account the time of the year and the length of time to execute each initiative from beginning to end.
I guarantee you'll run out of calendar before you run out of things you want to do so you'll be forced to sharpen your pencil and get the balance just right between activities and income.
Step 6: Check your revenue goals
Once you've mapped the content and timing across to your marketing calendar you must cross check your estimations on revenue for each initiative and total it up. Double check to see if you are going to meet your revenue goals and if not go back to your calendar and adjust accordingly.
Don't be tempted to lower your income goals. Instead look for ways to increase the income from particular events or do something else. This could mean running a program for more people or charging more per person or some other creative solution. The point is to see other ways to bring in the income you want rather than lower your sights.
Make adjustments to your calendar until it all fits together.
Now that you have finalized your marketing calendar you can chunk that down into the steps needed to implement each program in turn. It's not necessary to do that level of detail at the outset unless you choose to but as you move through the calendar year you will know what is up ahead and what is required and when.
In short you will be in control. Taking the time to create your marketing calendar means you will have much less stress, a lot more fun and a lot more money than winging it and hoping for the best.
By Kathleen Ann
Image by Jose Antonio Sanchez Reyes
Small business marketing expert Kathleen Ann is the "Marketing Champion for small Business and entrepreneurs." As a Certified Money, Marketing and Soul Coach Kathleen delivers breakthrough marketing strategies so heart-centered entrepreneurs can Brand, Package and Price their services to quickly create more money, time and freedom in their business. For free articles, free resources and to sign up for her free audio and transcript "7 Must Know Secrets to Business Branding Success", essential Branding strategies to help you attract qualified ideal clients in droves, visit http://www.powerupyourmarketing.com