How to create a marketing calendar
Being organized is essential to running a successful business – regardless of what type of business you are in. In terms of putting together a successful marketing plan, the first thing you need to do is to create a monthly calendar of promotions, or a marketing calendar.
A marketing calendar will document the dates, the types of tasks and the targeted budget for each marketing campaign you plan to run. This will help you stay on track and within your budget. It will also help you organize your promotions for the entire year by putting all this information into a single spreadsheet.
Diane Chiasson, FCSI, President of Chiasson Consultants Inc., a restaurant and foodservice consultancy firm in Toronto, offers the following advice on how to start a marketing calendar.
Identify your goals
Before you decide what type of marketing campaigns you want to run for your restaurant or foodservice operation, you need to first consider your business goals. Do you want to increase your average checks? Attract a new customer base? Introduce a new menu? Bring in a new demographic? Make a list of the goals you want to achieve this year, and then you will be able to decide what types of promotions and strategies you can use to help you reach your goals.
Create a marketing plan for the year
Hold a staff meeting to get everyone involved with the planning. Your staff will be more enthusiastic and more willing to participate in your marketing campaigns if they are able to provide some input. They may also have some great ideas. You should aim to run at least two promotions per month. Look for holidays, sporting events and seasonality to tie in with your promotions. Assess your marketing campaigns from last year to see what worked and what didn’t. Check out what your competition is doing. Although your strategies, plans and budget may change throughout the year, it is important to at least have an outline of what you want to achieve at the beginning of the year.
Make a list of marketing strategies
Decide what types of marketing strategies you want to use for your promotions, and whether or not they fit within your assigned budget. These could include email blasts, text message marketing, social media, postcard marketing, video podcasts, radio/TV commercials, press releases, posters, table-top tent cards, banners or any other print materials, community relations, direct mail, etc. Assign the appropriate marketing strategies to each promotion you want to run during the year.
Assign the tasks
For each promotion, write down a complete list of tasks for your team to follow. For example, press releases should be sent out at least two weeks prior to each event, while social media sites should be updated on a daily basis. Assign appropriate staff members to each task. Make sure that you select one person who will manage and oversee the calendar, and who will be responsible for ensuring that each staff member has done his/her task on time.
Choose a calendar format that works for you
Once you have outlined all the different types of promotions you plan to run, how you plan to run them and who will do what, it’s time to create your calendar. Choose a template that is easy to use and easily accessible to anyone who is involved with the calendar. For example, using a template from Google or Microsoft Outlook might be a good idea if there are multiple people involved in the campaigns, as the calendar can be updated and notifications of the updates can be easily emailed to everyone involved. However, if you have staff that may not be so computer savvy, you might want to consider a more traditional calendar in print format, or even just a large whiteboard with all the relevant information written on it. Regardless of what you use, it needs to be something that can changed and edited with ease.
Execute your calendar
Now that you have identified your goals, created a plan, assigned the tasks, and written a time line, it’s time to execute. Be sure to track the results of each promotion to see whether or not they were worth your while, and use this information to refine your tactics for future promotions. When you take the time to execute and evaluate your plan, you will put yourself in a better position to succeed.