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How to Create Your Annual Marketing Calendar, Part 1 — The Foundation

How to Create Your Annual Marketing Calendar, Part 1 -- The FoundationAt the end of each year, every business owner begins planning for the next year, and those plans usually include putting together an annual marketing calendar.

I’m doing things a bit differently this year with my own marketing calendar, so I thought I’d take you along on ride as I put it together.

The first part of this process is to create your foundation for your plan.  Without a strong foundation in place, your plan may not be stable enough to stand on its own.

Here is my 5-step process to complete the foundation for my annual marketing calendar:

1.  Find the right tools.  This year I’m using mind mapping software, Freemind, to help me plan out my marketing calendar, since it offers me the option to easily brainstorm all of my ideas and move them around as needed.  Once I’ve finished my planning, I’ll be transferring my plan to Dooster.  I’m creating a project in Dooster called Marketing Plan, and then I (or my assistant) can enter the To Do list into Dooster.  Dooster makes all of these tasks easy to view in a calendar view, so you can see everything going on in one month.

2.  Note all the holidays and celebratory points.  In your mindmap, create 12 nodes, one for each month of the year.  Do a quick online search to discover the primary holidays for your country and copy and paste your list of those. You might also want to note events like beginnings of seasons, back-to-school time, spring/fall breaks, your birthday, your business anniversary, or any other special occasion that might apply to your business. A great resource I’ve discovered for other days of note is the  2013 LEEP Calendar: Lewis Event, Editorial & Promotional Calendar (Volume 3),  where you can find special commemorative days that might apply to your business.

3.  Post your Rest Days and Business Development Days.  Rest days are those days when you’re not working.  For you, they might include days off during the week, weekends, and vacation time.  Business Development Days are those days when you’re working on your business doing things like marketing, planning, having conversations about strategic alliances, etc., or anything that will help your business be more profitable.  At a minimum, you need to have at least half a day for a Business Development Day each week; however, a full day is better. Add these to the mindmap created in item #2.

4.  Take stock.  In a separate mindmap or another node of your original mindmap, take stock of what you have and what you’re doing.  This includes current opportunities (what you’re doing now in terms of regular marketing or programs/products/services currently for sale), future opportunities (those that you’re thinking about pursuing), and those in the Idea Vault (brainstormed list of all possibilities). Next, inventory your challenges, both internal and external, as well as what obstacles you’re facing. Thirdly, list all of your assets.  These can include your email marketing list, your contact database, your list of web site properties, the training you’ve completed, and your social media properties.  Next, list the resources available to you, which would include any team members or contractors with whom you work regularly; any social networking groups, professional associations, or forums where you regularly participate; and any other memberships that help you in your business.  Lastly, note your needs, or what you’re lacking in your business.

5.  Determine your goals. What do you hope to accomplish in the upcoming year?  Are you seeking to increase overall sales or sales of a certain product or service?  Will you be introducing new products or services to the market?  Do you want to add an additional target market to your marketing mix?  Add this as another node to your mindmap.

In the next article, I’ll discuss how to begin the planning process for your marketing plan and how to turn your ideas into actionable projects and steps.

About the Author Donna Gunter

Best-selling author Donna Gunter works with successful business owners who are experts in their fields and established in their industry and are seeking a way to stand out from their competitors. Using her Ideal Clients on Autopilot System©, she helps them determine the exact strategies to generate more qualified leads and better-paying clients with automated systems. This proven system makes all their marketing easier and more effective and they find themselves positioned as the only choice for their clients.

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