An editorial calendar helps answer the question, “What am I supposed to do next?” It’s a tactical element of your small business marketing plan that lays out the month, quarter or year. With only a few hours of work, you’ll boost marketing productivity and effectiveness.
Start with Effective Small Business Marketing Strategies
As a small business, it’s incredibly important you spend your marketing budget efficiently and effectively. You can’t afford to keep doing the same marketing tactics year after year unless you know they really work. Before implementing any marketing campaigns, make sure your strategy is solid and will help you meet your business goals.
Ensure Marketing Implementation with an Editorial Calendar
One of the toughest challenges for any small business is consistently deploying marketing campaigns on time. When you often spend your day “putting out fires,” it can be hard to remember to grow your audience on Facebook, communicate with customers via your email newsletter or schedule in-person meetings with prospects.
That’s where an editorial calendar comes in. This tool helps build discipline into the timing of your marketing and ensures no channel is neglected.
For each of my small business clients, I typically outline an entire year’s calendar, with goals set for each month. This document becomes our to-do list. It’s fairly simple– take a look at the sample below for 2016 Q1.
Sample Marketing Editorial Calendar
Film two videos surrounding “Winter” campaign, post second and fourth Tuesdays
Write two blog posts surrounding “Winter” campaign, publish first and third Tuesdays
Post “Winter” video or link to Facebook every Wednesday
Here’s a cautionary tale and follow-up to last week’s defense of marketing implementation. Be wary of implementing any marketing communication without an effective strategy. Marketing strategy is really important!
Check out this startling example of bad marketing implementation I stumbled across while Googling ‘hallway lighting:’
After reading, “Lighting So You’re Not Clutching the Walls at Night,” I quickly navigated away to the relative safety of Lowe’s and Home Depot’s lighting selections. The big box stores might not be incredibly innovative, but at least they aren’t creepy.
Engaging in marketing tactics without a strategy is dangerous! Understand your customers and understand your business, then launch your marketing campaigns.
In the world of marketing, strategy development gets all the glory. The role of implementing marketing strategies is often considered a menial task (or at least dreadfully boring). Doing tactical work just isn’t as glamorous as developing the knock-your-socks-off strategy behind the work.
But here’s an important reality. Marketing implementation is critical, and it’s something that needs to happen every day. Marketing strategy without implementation will never make sales, influence customers or grow your business. (Similarly, unplanned tactical marketing not based on a sound marketing strategy won’t work, either!)
I believe marketing professionals need to develop more respect for tactical marketing and realize how much creativity, critical thinking and ingenuity this role requires. Personally, there’s nothing I enjoy more than developing a marketing strategy for a client, then implementing that strategy and creating actual results for clients. This full-service marketing approach is truly needed in the marketplace.
Marketing implementation is just as important as strategy
Does your business have a great marketing plan that identifies who your customers are, what is important to them and how to reach them? As important as your plan is, it’s not enough if your implementation team isn’t just as strong. Here’s an example.
While shopping for a new car, I could tell Toyota had put some effort into making their sales team and showroom friendly towards women and how they buy. The salesperson made sure to make plenty of eye contact with me and ask me as many questions as he asked my husband. He gave us privacy and space to discuss our options. He was the opposite of the stereotypical car salesman– and his support staff were just as competent. It seems Toyota has invested in training programs to make their dealerships more women-friendly.
But their marketing communications team was much too literal in their interpretation of the marketing plan. Their commercials, with a strangely overt message announcing, “We are women and kid friendly!” were almost offensive, like the Toyota dealership was overly conscious of the difference between men and women, or they were grouping women and kids into the same category. Here’s a video from the same dealership that shows a similar misunderstanding of the marketing strategy, with service technicians stumbling around in high heels.
It’s important for all of your marketing efforts to coordinate and tell the same story– or you might end up like Kings Toyota, with a great sales experience but commercials that drive your customers away.
As I wrote in a recent article on implementing small business marketing strategies, “keeping at it,” is one of the hardest things to do in business. So many distractions and “emergencies” get in the way of fulfilling our well-planned strategies.
In this podcast, I offer several tips for small businesses looking to improve their implementation skills. Listen or download below:
So, you’ve developed a strategy that informs where you want your company to go. You’ve involved your team in developing and planning for this strategy. Together, you’ve made sure this strategy communicates with customers in ways that are meaningful to them and ensures your company is easy to do business with. You’re probably feeling pretty satisfied with your progress. But your work has only just begun.
The most difficult part of any plan is implementation. It’s not because the tasks of implementation are hard. Usually accomplishing these tasks don’t require great skill or superhuman brainpower. The difficulty arises because implementation requires dedication and tenacity. You have to keep at it. Every day.
For many small business entrepreneurs, this process is boring, and implementation is often cut short, displaced by more exciting strategizing and perceived opportunities. But a small business can never reach its potential without completing the initiatives it starts.
Develop easy-to-understand success metrics. Know you’re succeeding (or failing) by establishing milestones along the way to your goal. These milestones should have due dates to create a sense of urgency.
Hold quarterly or monthly check-up meetings. Grade your company’s success on a regular basis with progress reports on your milestones. Make these meetings short and to the point, or everyone will dread them (don’t you hate meetings that drag on and keep you from work?).
Don’t be a roadblock. Often small business owners are the bottleneck in the company’s decision-making process. Decide which decisions you don’t need to make. It will free up your time and speed up your strategy’s success.
Use your team’s strengths. If you find it difficult to stay on track, someone on your team likely has strong implementation skills. Give them authority to check in, set meetings and make sure progress is made.