Monday, January 02, 2012

Use an Annual Calendar of Events as a Marketing Tool

It’s January, and you should be planning to launch your annual calendar of events.

This calendar will solidify planning and allow your staff to make suggestions and plans. Planning, as we all know, saves money. As a good example, I purchased candles for an event later this year for 25 cents each at Target. They were regularly $3. Of course, planning is not about finding the cheapest item. I picked up adorable favors for an event for May because when I saw them, I realized they would be perfect for my May event.

Having a calendar means you can get started on the details. You don’t need to know all your goals for the year to create this calendar. Once the calendar is created, your goals may be clearer. For example, you might realize you have nothing going on during May and June, and recognize this as a perfect time to work on a specific project. Or, you might realize that the calendar is really full this year, and you need to put off a project until the next year. What a relief to mark that worry off the list right now, rather than letting it nag at you all year.

To get started, print out blank calendar pages and grab a pencil. You can get blank calendar pages from these sources:
  • www.pdfcalendar.com - This site has a 12-week calendar and a monthly calendar. The 12-week calendar shows almost an entire season in one glance. I would print both and use the monthly calendars to lay everything out and then use the 12-week calendar as a cheat-sheet. 
  • Microsoft Word template
  • Google calendars
If you blog, consider downloading TipJunkie’s two-month printable blogging schedule.

Next, identify annual events you know will occur:

Sales. When do you offer things at a discount? Write those times in your calendar. Customers will learn to depend on these sales. The Container Store has its annual Elfa sale every January. Maybe Elfa is on sale during other times of the year, but January is The Elfa Sale.

Launches. Will you launch a product this year? Decide a launch date right now. Have a stand-up meeting if you need to for input from others about the launch-date, but get it on the calendar. Why? Because we’re all going to do things “this year.” How many things were you going to do last year that you didn’t do? You need a launch date. You can rally around the launch and plan it.

Big Push Season. Do you own a landscaping business that needs to do a big seasonal push in the spring? Or, for your off-season work snow plowing? Mark the weeks that advertising, sales calls, flyers, etc. need to go out of your office in order to get the big push started. How can you make it a little bit bigger this year?

Volunteer Work. Volunteer work gives back to the community and sometimes garners free press for you. What will you do this year to put some good karma into the world? Will you do a road race? Help build a house? Attend a charity auction? Write it down.

Events. My hair salon hosts an annual hair show and sells tickets to the even to raise money for a cause. What will you do this year to garner excitement? Perhaps you’ll make no money off of it, but it makes people happy to do business with you the rest of the year. Think: Hands-on Open House, Muffins to Midnight on New Year’s Eve, Crafts for Kids, etc.

Blog Schedule. Do you blog? You need a publication schedule especially if more than one person is writing the blog. Use your blog’s statement of purpose, if you have one, to guide the publication schedule. Who will write on which days? Will you have features that run on a certain day? Lay out the schedule and assign responsibility to the right people.

Website Update Schedule. Nothing is worse than clicking on the “Upcoming Events” link on a website and finding it is updated through the end of three years ago. Nothing new has been posted. Make sure someone is updating the website. Who will do that? When will they receive information? What day of the month or week will the site be updated? Does it need daily attention? Create a weekly plan, if needed, so that all aspects of the site are taken care of.

With your annual calendar set, you can plan your work more thoughtfully and meet your challenges head-on.

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