The Value of an Annual Marketing Calendar

“Good Organization is Priceless”

“Pragmatic Sales Psychology” short episode series, writing #2

I know of a few retailers and service providers who have a promotional calendar, but the key word here is “few.” Some have monthly or quarterly meetings where they discuss sale events and promotions but many, many businesses don’t know exactly what they are doing from January 1 until December 31. They have no road map on what specials or motivational messages they are planning to place in front of the consumers. The auto dealers, furniture stores that are a part of national chains and have agencies and marketing departments typically do… I’m not speaking to the effectiveness of them, only that they do plan ahead. I am also sure that the promotions which have worked in the past have been considered before their annual marketing calendar is decided upon. In a past life, I was in some of those meetings. This particular article is not meant for those dealers. The vast majority of our clients are small and medium sized businesses, most of whom throw promotions together on an “as inspired” or, “Gee, we need to do something to stir things up!” basis. Why is an annual marketing calendar a good idea? I’m glad you asked. Here are some great reasons why:

  • Regardless of what the annual percentage of gross that you dedicate toward promotions/advertisement is (usually in the 2-6% range), knowing how much you have to throw at a message instead of using your gut or emotions at the time is much more predictable and manageable when it comes to the final fiscal outlay.
  • If you know what promotions are forthcoming, your sales staff, techs and admin people can know ahead of time what is coming and prepare logistically and psychologically for them better than if things are sprung on them.
  • If you have a sales staff who is rewarded with extra percentages or paid by commissions, they can organize their prospects into pools that apply logically to the proper promotion, therefore boost their income and, consequently, your revenue.
  • Advertisement resources can be negotiated more aggressively. We have a couple of clients who give us enough volume that they are awarded better rates than the average or occasional client enjoys.
  • If people in your camp know what is coming, especially your marketing and sales minds, they can spend time refining and polishing the promotion in an effort to improve its performance. Ideas take time and forethought; if you’re throwing stuff together and letting the calendar get away from you, you are stealing valuable “think” time and regardless of popular proclivities, the fact is that if you are more prepared you are more efficient. Efficiency and profitability are first cousins. Being prepared is the only way to maximize the performance of your strategies.
  • You have a deeper feeling of confidence if you know what is coming and start preparing for it in advance. Crisis management decisions may allow you to get lucky sometimes but most often they lose, not gain, businesses money. 
  • It is the only way to get everyone in your organization singing off the same page of the old proverbial hymnal sufficiently. In that way, you can get your story “well defined” enough to know that everyone is telling it properly.    

I’m not saying that you can never flex and never should. Being opportunistic is a smart thing for entrepreneurs to be, but being opportunistic and “flying by the seat of your pants” are two entirely different things.

There really isn’t a good argument against sitting down either before the new year occurs, or within the first couple weeks of the year, and mapping out a course. At least you would have a well-thought-out one to veer from, should the sincere opportunity arrive and yes, having a few contingency dollars in the budget for unexpected good ideas isn’t such a bad thing either. You really can’t argue against the value of being well prepared for anything or the value of being well organized. It doesn’t matter to the writer of this article though, because he is not going to make himself available for a rebuttal. He will instead chicken out, and defer to some much more famous and quotable folks…

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Benjamin Franklin

“The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.” – John F. Kennedy

“It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

“Good fortune is what happens when opportunity meets with planning.” – Thomas Edison

And I couldn’t resist ending with this one:                                                                                                                                        “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” – Yogi Berra                                                  

Happy Planning!

Jack Klinefelter
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