Planning Your Marketing Calendar

Posted on April 11, 2016 by Kevin Richards

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Having a fully planned out marketing calendar for the year is crucial for busy store owners. You don't have time during your busy seasons to sit down and come up with a marketing plan for promotions that need to go out on time. Graphics need to be created, compelling text needs to be written, coupons need to be made and tested, emails need to be crafted, social media posts need to be coordinated - it's a lot of work if you have a business to run as well.

If you're not constantly interacting with your customers, they tend to forget about your brand and lose loyalty. The best change you can make to get caught up on your marketing and stay in touch with your customer base is to first make a marketing calendar. So where to begin?

If you're new to making a marketing calendar for your business, a good place to start is by looking at all the calendar holidays. Here is a free resource with lots of holidays listed:

Most retailers do promotions and sales based on holidays, such as Mother's Day, Memorial Day, and of course Black Friday (in the US). If you're an international retailer, you have far more holidays to choose from.

Decide what promotions to run on which holidays. Emails with a "SALE" or a percentage off your order in the subject line tend to get opened more, so if you can run a sale on a holiday, do so. The best coupons promotions are ones that run only for a limited time, to create a sense of urgency.

How often do you want to send emails? Some retailers send marketing emails once a month, and some send them twice a week. It all depends on your business. If you are constantly getting new products and selling out of old ones, it's worth it to email as often as you can.

You could fill an entire year with just holiday promotions, but what about during the off weeks, and what if you don't have the margins to give discounts all the time? You can always fill those weeks with specific category, brand, or product promotions. Do you sell shoes? Promote a specific brand of shoe. Do you sell pool products? Promote your selection of Pool Covers. Got a great new blender in stock? Tout the features of it. Sure, you're not offering a discount or special deal, but what's important is that your message is getting out to your customers and you keep their attention so that when they ARE ready to buy, they know where to go.

You'll need to make a spreadsheet to track your marketing. For each row, include the following:

  • Title - A short title of your promotion that can also double as a subject line on emails.
  • Description - A short description that can be used for the content of your email and social posts for the promotion. You don't have to include a wall of text that no-one is going to ready anyway!
  • Send Date - The day you intend to send the promotion
  • Coupon - Is there a coupon for this promotion? Include the coupon code here for your reference.
  • Coupon Valid - Is the coupon valid for a specific set of dates?

Now that you have the structure of the calendar ready, work on filling out the most important holidays and sale days first. Once those are set, find (or make up) other promotion days to fill in the gaps.

That's it! Take a step back and look at what you've accomplished. With your marketing calendar for the year to come in place, you and your marketing team will know exactly what's coming and be better able to prepare for it. Some e-commerce platforms allow you to create coupon codes or time-sensitive discounts in advance. Better to get those setup now rather than at the last minute. You can always make adjustments later as necessary.

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