As a brand consultant, I often meet clients whose marketing efforts are haphazard. Sometimes it’s in full swing with a plethora of events, social media posts, PR and much more and other times it an afterthought – usually driven by demand of an emergency situation. As a result the marketing portfolio languishes and sporadic initiatives are labelled as failure.And than, in my opinion, is because any activity without a proper goal oriented plan is sure to fail.
So when companies want to acquire customers, using a mix of marketing tools, it’s best they use a simple but comprehensive calendar. Calendars that are too complicated or lack clear deliverables are discarded the moment enthusiasm wains.
In this post, I have shared some key steps we use, to creating a marketing calendar that works for my clients. Please feel free to adapt and use as per your category or business needs. Remember, templates that are freely available, work best when they are customized to the needs of the company.
But before building a calendar, we need to clear on the following:
A simple statement of business objectives – including topline, bottom line, time frame and how the overall goal will be achieved.The goal statement should be short, believable and comprehensive.
Defining the primary and secondary groups of people the company wishes to engage with is critical for success. That is because we need to have a firm understanding of their rational and emotional needs, in order to design a marketing campaign that works. The more granular the definition of the customer – the better.
The Marketing Calendar is made up on media vehicles that will be used – face to face meetings, webinars, PR, Social media Post, Website promotions and much more. The absolute number of elements – simply called the Media Mix - are often decided by the budget. The larger the budget the more the media vehicles – because each media vehicle requires a minimum amount of money (or effort) to become effective.
And do remember, in today’s world the basics of marketing include a website, brochure, single page value proposition and some form of social media.
Once we know who we are speaking to and what they are looking for, it’s the role of the brand team to bring alive the value proposition in a compelling manner. This aspect includes both the messaging and visual appeal. The latter is especially important if the company is a startup or trying to win share from MNC competition – as customers often decide upon a company’s image based on their marketing collateral.
Once all this is in place, it’s time to draw up a Marketing Calendar. Honestly it’s all about lists.
Step 1: List down the key customer groups the company wants to engage with – the fewer the better. And state what is the call to action we want from each group.
E.g. For a B2B company this could be maintaining existing customers, getting warm leads from prospects and re-engaging lapsed users.
Please remember each group has a different requirement in terms of messaging as their needs are varied.So you will need to create different messaging for each cluster while remaining true to your value proposition.
Step 2 : List down the best way to reach them – using the proposed media mix.
E.g. In my opinion, Key Accounts are best managed using one on one interactions whereas Prospects can be connected via Social Media promoting smart content and personalized email.
This is the most critical aspect of the plan as the marketing calendar is simply a way to enforce the execution of the said plan.
Step 3: List down the key things that the company will do over the next few quarters that are of interest to their customers. As marketing communication is providing information that will engage the customer.
E.g. A company making specialized products with high caliber research could treat new launches and research papers which address the needs of their customers as milestones for communication.
Step 4 : And then its making a simple grid linking the stakeholder to the media in a quarterly or monthly manner. Some people, who like structure, even make weekly plans as they are quick to review and implement. If you need some help on generating the right template – please google and look for options – but don’t forget to customize for maximum impact.
Read the case studies below to gain some practical flavor. They have been shared for a B2B situation to show the variations possible depending on the size of the company and the nature of business goals.
Case Study 1 : Early Stage MedTech Start Up
This early stage Startup offers highly sophisticated solutions using a mix of medical science and AI. Their business objective is to get their initial customer on – board and happy with their services, before raising the next round of funding.
As new entrants, in a world dominated by MNC players, the founders spend a fair amount of time pitching for new business by showcasing their product and reiterating their trial results. The calendar allows them to divide their roles and review performance on a monthly basis.
Case Study 2: Mis Stage Software Solution Provider
This mid-sized company is committed to doubling their sales by engaging existing customers and onboarding new customers across geographies using a mix of low and high value offerings.
Their marketing team consists for a manager and three assistants who also provide pre-sales support.