Plan Your Best 2018 | How to Build a Promo Calendar - Charliemadison Originals LLC

Plan Your Best 2018 | How to Build a Promo Calendar

As a small business owner and part-time side-hustlin' entrepreneur, I am keenly aware of the time investment it takes to do all the things in your business - new product design, social media, shipping, marketing. It can be overwhelming some days! Only recently have I discovered the greatest time-saving and sanity-saving tool that is completely free - it just takes a little investment of your time - a Promo Calendar!

My sweet friend KJ Blattenbauer of Hearsay Public Relations is sharing her step-by-step plan and tips to help you create your very own Promo Calendar for 2018. Be sure to read to the end - KJ is giving away two copies of her eBook, The Buzz: A Media Darling's Guide to Press Coverage.

Plan Your 2018 | How to Build a Promo Calendar

A Guest Post from KJ Blattenbauer of Hearsay PR

January is right around the corner! Which means it’s the time of year when most people start to think about the goals they want to accomplish in 2018. Both personally and professionally.

On the business side of things, that means laying out a strategic plan and then working hard to carry it out. It also means scheduling out your promotions for the year and deciding how to best publicize your business.

Where do you start when you have all the ideas, but not a clear, defined path on where (or how) to start writing up a promo calendar?

You follow the simple roadmap below.

What is a promo calendar?

Before we get started, I want to make sure we are all on the same page with what exactly a promo calendar is (and is not).

Typically thought of as a marketing or public relations plan, your promo calendar is 12-months of content that you’ll be sharing with your target audience on a consistent basis. This is all the sales, promotions, social media posts, media pitches, and advertising you’ll be sending out the door—organized in an orderly fashion.

Put another way, if you are the Miranda Priestly of your brand and it’s a magazine, the promo calendar is your schedule of promotions your editor’s eye picks to run.

It also is important to note that a big company will have both public relations and marketing plans working together simultaneously. However, because when you own a small business you are the doer of all the things, I’m going to combine both here for ease of use.

I am a firm believer that deliberate planning can give restorative seasons to your business, and a smart promo calendar can save the day when you thought your business was going to miss the mark. It also comes in really handing when trying to avoid any of-the-moment social media posts and creative atrophy.

Here are the three steps I follow to put together an effective and restorative promo calendar.

1 - Determine your goals

The first step in building a promo calendar requires starting with your end goal in mind.

What is the result you want to achieve for executing on your promo calendar? What does success look like for your business in 2018? Write all ideas down that come to mind.

Whether you plan on building a 12-month promo calendar or only laying out the next 90 days, knowing what your overall goals are is where every successful promo calendar starts.

As an entrepreneur launching a dress line in early 2018, I know that my goals in the first 90 days of 2018, include setting up a Shopify site, hosting two photoshoots (one for web, one for lookbook), growing my email newsletter list, and launching my first collection of 10 designs.

2 - Map it out


Once you’ve identified your goals, the fun begins.

I’m a long-term planner, so I like to take a blank desk calendar and map out what 12 entire months of promotions will look like for my businesses. Yes, by desk calendar I mean the very large old school ones from office supply stores. You know, where you sometimes need to pencil in what the date even is. I love those guys!

I’m a visual girl in a digital world, so I choose to go pen and paper with my planning. However, if you are more apt to work online, you do you.

I then take this calendar, and pencil in every national and marketing holiday for the next year. However, given that there are so many national marketing holidays now in play, I select only those that apply (even if loosely) to my target audience or brand.

Sorry, Rhubarb Vodka Day, we won’t be celebrating you on December 7, 2018, in my world. But, National Cookie Day? Yep, I’ll be celebrating that in both January and December next year.

Once holidays, both real and marketing, are out of the way, I go month-by-month and mark down the seasonal topics that apply to each timeframe.

Just as January is always about fresh starts and fitness, March is always about babies and Spring, May is always summer-focused and full of wedding talk, and then August launches all things back to school. As Fall and Thanksgiving nears, we have the month of gratitude and, would you look at that, it’s then the holiday season and time for gift guides.

You’re going to start seeing very quickly how full a calendar can get. This is a good thing!

It’s now time to revisit your overall goals and start identifying where any of your sales or promotions fit into the timeline you’re building on the calendar. Obviously, the holidays are huge. Make sure you plan for them. 

Do you own a jewelry company? Mother’s Day, wedding season, Valentine’s Day, and other similar points in time are ones you are going to want to pay special attention to and work promotions in around.

Is your product or service aimed at busy moms? The first of the year, end of school, summer vacations, back to school, and holidays are all great times to make your target customer’s life a little easier. Position your promotions around those times.

Are you a small business that has annual sales your customers have come to know and love? Make sure you keep the tradition alive by including these events on your calendar. 

Laying out all these important dates on your calendar can help you to not only plan for what is to come, but also to determine when your quiet months may occur. You can then plan accordingly. 

The beauty of this method is that you can see everything, all in one place. But it can still be altered and shifted around. Nothing is set in stone.

Because sometimes it’s fun to leave a little bit of room for creativity.

3 - Create your content


Now that you’ve built out the skeleton for your promo calendar, it’s time to fill in the gaps.

Look at everything that you have listed, and start planning what content you are going to create each week to make people buy your goods or services.

This includes any social media posts, additional in-store or online promotions you may run, blog content that you can use, or special events.

Not sure where to start? Ask yourself questions like:

  • What are the recent trends in my industry?
  • What gaps in my industry do I fill that my competitors do not?
  • Who is perfect for each service or product I have?
  • What are the questions I am asked all the time?

By far the hardest part of planning a promo calendar, this also is the most important step.

Don’t rush through it. Take your time. I promise that this step will involve a lot of reading past emails and scraps of paper, but it also will produce tons of content and promo ideas.

Armed with this information, go week by week and start filling in your calendar with content.

Assuming New Year’s Eve was on a Saturday, the last week in December may look something like this for my dress line:

1 - Sunday—A blog post roundup of 10 great dresses for New Year’s Eve

2 - Monday—A newsletter to my email list linking to Sunday’s blog post, which may or may not include a coupon for purchase or another promo offer, but includes a call to action to purchase. Posts on all social media platforms promoting the Sunday blog post and teasing the dress looks.

    3 - Tuesday—Follow up social media posts on all platforms that features a new look, or customer-submitted image, that again ties back to Sunday’s blog post.

      4 - Bonus—Hopping on Insta Stories to show which styles are the most popular or share screenshots from customers happily showing off their purchases.

        5 - Wednesday—Social media posts on all platforms featuring a fun quiz about style or color customers would prefer to wear out on New Year’s Eve. Includes link back to the article.

          6 - Thursday—Email to newsletter list highlighting that time is running out to shop for Saturday night looks and gives any shipping deadlines with call to action to purchase before it’s too late.

            7 - Bonus—Hopping on Insta Stories to show which styles are the most popular or share screenshots from customers happily showing off their purchases.

              8 - Friday—Fun, interactive post across all social media platforms about Friday night and date night look inspiration. Links back to blog post.

                9 - Saturday—Happy New Year’s message featuring a party scene and one of that year’s most popular dress styles.

                    Before you know it, you’ll have an entire year laid out and ready to go.

                    How good would that feel?

                    While initially, the process of building a promo calendar can seem overwhelming and painful, it actually provides you more time and freedom later on to be more productive. And to excel at all the other things you need to do to keep your business running smoothly—like hitting your sales goals.

                    How do you plan your promo calendar?

                    KJ Blattenbauer is a public relations professional with more than 21 years of experience. When she’s not traveling around the country 43 weeks a year running her PR company, Hearsay, she keeps busy with my naming business, Name Droppers, and will be launching a line of effortlessly glamorous dresses under the vieve and jo label in January 2018. Want a promo calendar built for you? KJ can help with that, just click here.

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