At some point or another, it’s happened to every marketer. Demands on your time within your business are pulling you from one direction to another. There’s barely any white space left on your calendar, your staff is behind on deadlines for rolling out a new product, multiple tech obstacles keep popping up, and you’re generally just exhausted.
And then it happens.
You look at the calendar and realized you missed a prime opportunity for a promotion that could have caught the attention of potential customers and reinvigorated the excitement of your current clientele.
Maybe it was something relatively big, like a Fourth of July or Valentine’s Day promotion. Or maybe it was one of those small holidays that, despite being nothing major that would appear on a calendar, is nonetheless relevant to the product you sell. Either way, any opportunity to catch the public eye is critical, especially if you’re a small business.
That’s why it pays to plan ahead, and that’s why the New Year is a prime time to build a promotional calendar.
A promotional calendar is just what it sounds like: a year-round schedule of all the sales, new products, and marketing events that you’ll roll out over the course of the next 12 months. While there are some promotional events that are just a given for any business (Black Friday, Cyber Monday, the holiday season in general), others are a little less obvious or take a little more planning.
Taking time to map out your whole year of marketing ahead of time will not only ensure that you don’t miss a thing, but that you know exactly how much money and time you need to make these promotions happen.
It will help you make sure that you have the right amount of people working to put the promotions into place and determine what your marketing budget for the year should be to execute them properly
Knowing how to make a promotional calendar is a worthy investment of your time that will let you get the most out of your marketing opportunities so you can win over more prospects and continue pleasing your customers.
Step 1: Assess Last Year’s Data
Obviously, there’s no point in working on how to make a promotional calendar for the coming year until you look at the results of past campaigns.
Review the data from the year that is ending as well as the previous year to track what promotions resonated the most with consumers, as well as other trends that show what aspects of your marketing were most successful.
As you look at this data, don’t forget to take into account factors that may have interrupted your expectations for a particular promotion. Did bad weather keep people from coming out to shop? Did an unexpected technical glitch interfere with sales? Make sure that you consider all relevant variables as you look at how to make your promotional calendar.
Once you examine your data, you’ll be in a position to determine which promotions were most successful and should be kept for the next year and which may not be worth putting forth the time and money.
Step 2: Consider Seasonality
Seasonality is the particular buying behavior that occurs during certain times of year. The holiday season is the most obvious example simply because it’s the time of year when most everyone shops for gifts—some studies show Black Friday accounting for as much as 30% of all sales for the entire year.
However, there are other examples of trends where seasonality is concerned. For example, back to school is prime time for buying fall clothes. Peak times for many tourist spots include the summer, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and spring break. Heating and cooling companies expect to see a spike in service requests at the beginning of the summer and winter.
The point is that seasonality helps businesses to forecast their projections for the coming year and know the amount of staffing, finances and other resources they’ll need at different points in each quarter. This will help determine when sales for your company are highest and most consistent, and thus, when different kinds of promotions will be most effective.
Step 3: Consider Holidays
Holidays are more than just Christmas in the grand scheme of your business’s year. A key part of knowing how to make a promotional calendar for your company is determining what holidays, major or minor, to focus on.
The key is to know which holidays are most relevant to your offers and your brand’s identity as a whole.
For example, Valentine’s Day, the second biggest retail holiday of the year after Christmas, might be a key occasion for most stores where people would go to buy gifts for significant others and loved ones.
However…if you run a media company or a marketing agency, a Valentine’s Day promotion wouldn’t be relevant to the services you provide and therefore wouldn’t make as much sense.
Even if major holidays don’t quite fit your core product, though, there’s almost certainly a minor or unofficial holiday that will. With the year containing hundreds of special days honoring everything from pets to bosses to peanut butter, it’s easy to find an excuse for a special event or sale.
Find out what special days might be worthy of a promotion that would both get your products in the public eye and catch the attention of consumers, then build them into your calendar.
Step 4: Create Your Schedule of Promotions
With your promotional themes and days chosen, start planning what products you’ll feature, what discounts will be involved, and any new products you plan on releasing.
This isn’t just about planning the promotions themselves. A big part of knowing how to make a promotional calendar is maximizing the profitability of each promotion by thinking about the timing as well as the logistics of your pricing.
For example, reducing prices at the beginning of a particular season, when your customers’ need for certain products and services are at their peak and they are primed and ready to buy, wouldn’t be the smartest choice for profitability. Therefore, your promotion for the season opener might be a sneak peek of new items to build anticipation and excitement.
Step 5: Determine Content Marketing and Social Media Needs
To truly make a promotion successful, you need great content marketing, which is why planning it needs to be a vital part of how to make your promotional calendar. Content like ad copy, graphics, videos, web design, blog posts and more is one of the most important elements of drawing customers to your business, if not the most important.
But good content doesn’t happen overnight—it takes multiple revisions, review processes and redesigns and rewrites to get it to the point where it can impact and persuade consumers. And that’s why you need to know as specifically as possible what kinds of content you’ll need so you can work deadlines for its creation into your calendar.
This will allow you time to take photos, shoot video footage, do the layout for websites and mailers and draft solid copy for gift guides, commercial scripts and advertisements, making all your content solid and well-assembled rather than sloppy and rushed.
The same goes for social media. An automated social media platform can be a real asset in this department because it allows you to schedule all your seasonal and promotion-specific posts ahead of time. You don’t even have to worry about pressing “POST” — just schedule the date and time and your post will be there.
The point is that the more you can schedule out in terms of required content, the more time you can leave your designers and copywriters to produce something that truly reflects your brand and shows the value of your product to your customers’ lives.
Step 6: Put It All Together
So, once you’ve got all these deadlines and promotion dates, where do you put it all?
The answer might vary according to your business type, but organizing some kind of spreadsheet that takes you month by month through the promotions for the next year is the ideal next step in knowing how to make a promotional calendar.
Your spreadsheet should, at the bare minimum, include the dates of your promotion, the occasion and the pertinent details—what product is being promoted, any discounts or coupons that are involved.
Also, to ensure that you accurately document the results of your promotion, include columns to calculate the conversion rate of the promotions and the overall earnings per conversion.
Are you resolving this New Year to learn how to make a promotional calendar so your business can crush the year ahead? Cirius Marketing would love to help, and we’ve got the perfect tool to help you do it.
The Double Your Sales Review is a free 30-minute strategy session with one of our Digital Marketects (which is like an architect for your business). You’ll learn which of our 73 ways to start doubling your business now are already at work in your company and which ones you can put into place to make your marketing even more effective.
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