I often meet clients who tell me their marketing efforts are inconsistent. 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 demands of sales people. In my opinion, that’s because quite a few people don’t know how to create an effective marketing calendar.
So when companies want to acquire customers using a mix of marketing tools, I recommend they use a simple but comprehensive calendar. Marketing calendars that are too complicated or lack clear deliverables are discarded the moment enthusiasm wains.
In this post, I have outlines how to create a marketing calendar for customer acquisition. Adapt as per your category or business needs. Remember templates are freely available, but they work best when customized to the marketing plan.
But before building a calendar, we need to be clear on the following:
1. What is the Business Goal
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.
eg. When asked by early stage start ups on how to create a marketing calendar, we often ask them to clearly define what is their primary goal – engage investors or get early customers on board. That is because both goals, while very valid, have different marketing requirements.
2. Who is the Target Audience
Defining the primary and secondary groups of people the company wishes to engage with is critical for success. Without a good understanding of their rational and emotional needs, the communication will fail. In fact, the more granular the definition of the customer – the better for planning of the marketing calendar.
eg. For the marketing head of a company, getting a clear pen picture of the target audience from sales people and relevant research is key to success. Without this understanding, it will not be possible to create an effective marketing calendar.
3. How are we going to Communicate
The Marketing Calendar is made up of media vehicles and how they will be used. I refer to face to face meetings, webinars, PR, Social media Post, Website promotions and much more. These elements – often called the Media Mix – are usually dependent on the available 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.
- So, when people ask me how they can create an effective marketing calendar, I ask them to factor in these elements and available budgets before taking further steps.
4. Communication strategy and design
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 when 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.
And then 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. And that has to be captured in the marketing calendar.
Step 2 : List down the best way to reach them – using the proposed media mix.
E.g. Key Accounts are best managed using one on one interactions whereas Prospects can be connected with via Social Media and email. This is the most critical aspect of the plan as the marketing calendar is merely a means to enforce execution.
Step 3: List down the key things that the company will do over the next few quarters that are of interest to customers.
The most effective marketing campaigns provide useful information that engages the customer. It’s important to remember that the marketing calendar is to help sell the companies products or services by engaging them a relevant manner. E.g. A company making specialized products with high caliber research could treat new launches and research papers are corner stones for communication.
After the lists are done, make a simple grid, connecting the stakeholder to the activity planned in a quarterly or monthly manner. If you prefer using a template, either contact us or google for options – but don’t forget to customize the marketing calendar for maximum impact.
For those want a practical example, please read on.
Case Study : Mid – Size Industrial Ingredient Company
This five year old company is committed to doubling their sales over next three years. They plan to grow existing customers (using a Key Account mining strategy) and on-board new customers in unexplored geographies.
The company is aware of their barriers to growth. Research indicates the brand is well respected but loses out to lower priced competition in high value deals. Buyers also feel the company is not as responsive as desired, given their premium pricing.
To combat this, the company will build their brand image by focusing on their core differentiators – superior quality and state of the art research facilities. Both factors are important drivers of choice in this category. They have also put a Customer Support team into place to address perceptions related to speed of response.
As company is bootstrapped with a small team – the marketing calendar is designed for execution control and collaboration – with a monthly review of performance vis a vis targets.
Thank you for reading this article. If you need any clarification or support, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also join us for a monthly webinar on ‘All things Marketing’ – available for free but registration is required.