When we’re busy, it’s easy to get caught up in simply getting by from week to week, and focusing on what needs to be addressed at the moment. Creating a small business marketing calendar, however, can be the key to breaking that habit!
This calendar, however, shouldn’t just be about the big moments. There are lots of little tasks or events that, when planned in advance, can make a big difference to your business. In this post, I’m breaking down 10 important tasks you should assign a date to in your calendar. By doing this you can start to reduce the stress of running behind, and take control of the year ahead!
1. Annual Planning
I’ve talked about planning for the year ahead before, but it’s one of the most important things to add to your small business marketing calendar. Why? Because it forces you to look at the big picture.
Set a date in your diary towards the end of the year – don’t wait to be scrambling halfway through January! Look at where you’re at in your business and outline some goals for the following year. This could include financial milestones you’d like to hit, clients you’d like to work with more, or changes you’d like to make to your products or services.
Take the time to acknowledge why these steps are important to you. Maybe you had a particularly positive experience with a certain type of client that helped you fall in love with your work again. Acknowledging why these goals are important can help with following through on accomplishing them.
Once you’ve found the what and why, it’s time to figure out how. Use this planning day (or week!) to set yourself some targets. This level of organisation will help inform everything you do the following year.
To read more on goal setting and annual planning, check out this post here.
2. Quarterly Reviews and Monitoring
An annual plan will likely fall by the wayside without regular progress check-ins. The next dates to set in your small business marketing calendar are four quarterly review days.
These reviews will allow you to keep track of your goals and adjust where needed. It also allows for reflection on your business, and gives you the opportunity to amend those plans! As time goes on both our wants and needs and the business environment can shift. Make time to explore that, rather than continuing to power through the day-to-day.
In between these reviews, set yourself a monthly reminder to ensure you continually monitor your progress. By keeping track you can ensure that if something isn’t working, you’ll catch it early.
I also have a full post focusing on reviewing and reflecting – you can find it here!
3. Holidays and Mid-Terms
Be honest – how many times has Christmas suddenly been just weeks away when you realise you haven’t organised your festive marketing?
We’ve all been there! The key then is to set dates well in advance in your small business marketing calendar to prepare for any upcoming holidays. Christmas marketing? Set a planning date in August. Valentine’s Day (if applicable!)? Get a brainstorming day scheduled in October or November!
Whatever your business, annual holidays will impact it to some degree. Whether you’re focusing on B2B or B2C, it’s important to know what message you want to put out around the holidays well in advance.
And remember – this includes mid-term holidays! It’s easy to forget the shorter breaks outside of summer and Christmas. Look them up at the start of the year and make a note.
If you tend to struggle with your Christmas marketing, here are a few ideas!
4. Quiet times and Busy Times
This is one that will become easier to plan for the longer you run your business. Depending on your industry, busy and quiet times will vary – so take note each year!
Whether your business suffers from the dreaded January lull, or you tend to notice things slowing down in the summer, quiet times are inevitable. But that doesn’t mean they have to be scary! Schedule in time for learning, networking or even a break for yourself.
And as for busy times? Knowing when you’re likely to be flat-out means you can get ahead of the game. Ensure your social media is scheduled in advance and that you’ve caught up on your admin. The little things that take up time every day.
Blocking out dates in the diary where you know the chances are you’ll have a lot of free time, or none at all, can streamline your business processes. Add them to your small business marketing calendar at the start of the year and plan your work accordingly.
5. Conference Season
How often have you said “I’ll book a ticket for that nearer the time”, only to find there are none left when you finally try?
Much like holidays, conferences and events that could be useful for your business are worth preparing for in advance. Generally speaking, spring and autumn are when these events come around. So set dates for your research in winter and in summer!
Figure out what events are going to be relevant to your business and book your spot. On top of simply attending, some of these events might even be worth pitching to speak at! And that is something you have to get the ball rolling with well in advance.
It might be that in your industry, there isn’t much that feels relevant to you. But it’s better to do your homework and confirm it isn’t for you than to miss out on a valuable opportunity.
6. Awards Season
Entering your business into local or national awards can be an excellent way of raising your profile and gaining valuable kudos. Whether you win or not, being in the running and seen as a leader in your field is always a good thing!
Awards season is generally in the autumn. So the next key dates for your small business marketing calendar are based on the deadlines for any awards applicable to you. Emphasis on ‘based on’!!
Don’t only mark the deadline itself in your calendar. Note in your diary at least one month in advance, with a follow-up reminder one week before. This gives you plenty of time to fill out the application properly and give yourself the best possible chance of going home with that coveted trophy!
7. Peak Networking Times
If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ll know I am a big advocate for networking. Both for growing your business and gaining support from like-minded people, it’s invaluable.
There are certain times of the year, however, when networking really peaks. The first is January and February, after the Christmas break and when everyone is focused on the year ahead. The second is September/October, after the summer holidays are done and the final quarter of the year is hurtling towards us!
With that in mind, make space for networking events, both in-person and virtual, in your diary. Make use of your small business marketing calendar to pencil in reminders to book tickets in advance. These peak times are perfect for making new connections, so don’t miss out!
Unsure about attending? Here are 7 important lessons I’ve learnt in business networking!
8. End of the Financial Year
March is the end of the financial year and an important time to highlight in your diary. This is when clients may be looking to spend the last of their money or might be tightening their purse strings! It all depends on the year they’ve had.
Prepare for this in advance. Set yourself a reminder at the end of February to tap into that. How could you help your clients during this period? Aim to chat with your customers before March and schedule projects accordingly.
9. Clocks Changing
This might not be one you automatically think about, but take a moment to reflect on your social media content when the clocks change!
People usually have a change in behaviour when the clocks change in spring and autumn. Longer days mean they stay out later and tend to be busier in the evening. Shorter days mean people are staying in more and are less active in the late afternoon and evening.
While this isn’t a done deal, taking the time to consider this is really useful. This change in behaviour could mean that your ideal posting time moves back an hour or so! Use this as an opportunity to do some research – check your audience stats on Instagram and Facebook and see when they are online. That way you can schedule your content to have the maximum impact all year round.
Starting to schedule your social media? Here’s my rundown of the best scheduling tools.
10. Times when people are busy/distracted
Much like quiet and busy times, this is one that you will become more familiar with the longer you run your business!
However, there are going to be some really obvious times when people are likely to be distracted. December, for one, is usually the biggest! The run-up to Christmas is usually hectic both personally and professionally for people. That means adjusting your marketing to grab their attention in the quickest, easiest way possible.
Make a note in your small business marketing calendar in advance of these busy periods. This will allow you to ensure your social media content and email marketing is as digestible as possible.
It also means that if you have an important announcement to publish or product to launch, you’ll know to avoid these times and schedule it in before or after.
Launching something new is an exciting and important time. Don’t let a distracted audience make it any less successful than it should be!
To read more about this topic, have a look at these:
Time-Saving Tips for Your Small Business Marketing
How to Create a Social Media Content Plan for Your Small Business
5 Ways to Beat Marketing Procrastination and Get Things Done
How to Improve your Social Media Organisation and Get Your Content Out There