Get The Biggest Bang From Your Marketing Budget By Creating An Annual Marketing Calendar

Do you create an annual calendar yet?

By taking the time to evaluate major events and activities, you can plan marketing activities to exploit these targets of opportunity. You can also prevent your marketing from conflicting with other activities that might compromise their efficacy.

A good annual marketing calendar helps coordinate your overall marketing strategy. It helps you determine when to implement your advertising and other promotions and often helps you determine your marketing priorities. Understanding your annual calendar can be dynamite when planning media releases and media events.

What can happen if you don't do a calendar? Last year, a friend of mine held an evening reception for all the local businesses in town. He spent a ton of his hard earned dough. When the big night arrived, he didn't get the really large turn out he expected. We looked around the room and noticed there was a really high percentage of women to men in the room.

Then it hit us like a baseball bat upside the head ... a key World Series game was on that night. Lots of the guys were home watching. These were people that normally would have been at the reception. These are the types of things you need to consider before you spend a ton of money on a major promotion.

Here is how using your calendar can help you. I have some clients in the heating and air business. They are in very hot parts of the country. Their advertising needs change drastically in the Summer when everyone needs to get their air conditioning working. Because they know this is a peak part of the year, they can focus their advertising on this seasonal need and bring in maximum revenue. They can also plan special promotions targeted to this part of the year.

I recommend that you start your annual calendar before you commit to your marketing strategy. This will allow you to generate a marketing plan that takes advantage of key events during the year.

You can get a copy of a simple annual calendar format I use by clicking on the following link: http://www.profitzonemarketing.com/annualcalendar.pdf.

I suggest you blow this up to 11" X 17" (or you can buy full-year calendars at most office supply stores). Of course there are many software programs that will also allow you to set up your calendar. The key thing here is to use a year-at-a-glance format so you can get the overall, integrated picture.

What should you consider putting on your calendar:

Internal Events. Think about what is happening in your company that might impact your overall marketing and advertising strategy. Here are some examples:
Annual shutdown
Company holiday
Scratch-and-dent sales (where you get rid of inventory that has imperfections)
Renovations
New product or service releases
Store openings
Company or store anniversaries
Product releases and major product development milestones
Your budgeting cycle (ever have trouble at the end of the year because you ran out of money?)

External Events. There are lots of things going on in the world that could impact your business. Some things, like 911, you can't plan for, and hopefully, you won't have to worry about too often in your lifetime. But there are many other events that you can plan for or around (such as the World Series game mentioned above). Here are some examples:
Major elections
Major sporting events
Major TV events (e.g. academy awards)
Local community or city celebrations and events
Local expos, balls, social activities

Seasonal cycles. Many businesses are sensitive to seasonal or industry cycles. The sensitivity of heating and air companies to the heat of the summer season is a great example. Obviously, winter is a key season for ski resorts. Here are some other examples to consider for your calendar:
Seasonal variations that impact your business due to weather
Quarterly and annual financial reports
Tax season
Summer vacation
Winter vacation
School holidays
Government budget cycle (this is critical if you bid to the government or lobby to preserve funding)
Government procurement cycles

Major Industry Events. Most industries have major events that can impact businesses in that industry and many other businesses. Here are some examples:
Major tradeshows
Industry reports
Annual lobbying
Major corporate budget and procurement cycles

Major Holidays. You would be shocked at how many businesses fail to take into account the impact of holiday seasons on their business. Depending on what you do, holidays could mean more or less business. For example, business-to-business advertising is often ineffective during the Christmas holiday, but consumer advertising promoting Christmas gifts can be critical. Definitely consider the big holidays, but don't underrate the significance of some of the smaller holidays, particularly religious holidays.

For example, if you observe Christian holidays, it could be easy to miss the timing on Jewish holidays. Be sensitive to this. If your customer base has a large ethnic population from other parts of the world, don't neglect them in planning for holidays.

Major Competitor Activities. Understanding your competitor's key annual activities can help you create marketing to exploit their weaknesses and mitigate their strengths. For example, if you know your competitor will have a product release in March, you could advertise your new product in February and get first to market advantage. Anything that would be a major event to your business may also be a major event for your competitors. Here are some things to watch for:
Quarterly and annual financial reports
Major sales
Product releases
Major annual promotional events (if you know they will occur every year)
Major procurement activities
Major conferences and related events they will attend

Supplier Events. These can be your suppliers or other non-competitors who supply to your customers. Your suppliers can be a key factor in your marketing decision making. Their success can become your successes if they contribute to the performance of your product or service. Other suppliers to your customer base can be joint venture partners.

Important Prospect and Customer Activities. This one is critical. If you understand your prospects' and customers' key annual events you can fine-tune how, when, and where to target your marketing to them. Here are things to watch for:
Preferred buying seasons
Times of the year when they won't purchase
Major events they would attend (conferences, trade shows, social events)
Holidays
If they are a business, their product cycles, financial reporting cycles, R&D cycles, budgeting cycles, vendor relations events, procurement cycles and events, and much more.

Not all of these things will apply to you. This is a "shopping list" to get your started. Pick out the key things and fill in your annual calendar.

The next step is to lay out your marketing events for the year. Determine all of the things you would like to do (within your budget constraints).

Look for conflicts with other events on your master calendar. How can you minimize the impact of these on your results?

Look for synergies. How can you exploit these?

Look for marketing opportunities you might have missed if you hadn't laid out the master calendar.

Finally, based on the year's activities, anticipated return-on-investment and other factors, and prioritize your marketing.

If you haven't done an annual marketing calendar, take some time out the next two weeks and put one together. It can save you a lot of money and help you really optimize your marketing strategies.

Preston Campbell has been a marketing professional for over 18 years. He uses innovative marketing strategies and proven processes to create marketing systems for his clients that achieve dramatic results.

He is author of the first comprehensive course on how to create massive sales with teleseminars even if you don't have a list or a penny in your pocket. Learn more at: http://www.teleseminarsuccess.com

Preston is available for coaching, consulting, trainings, seminars, and teleseminars. Learn more at: http://www.profitzonemarketing.com


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