2 February 2020
Bogoto to NY. Avianca Flight 52 was regularly scheduled from Bogota to NY. The flight left Medellín with more than enough fuel for the journey and progressed toward JFK normally. Just at the time of landing, the flight was placed in three holding patterns.
The controller instructed the flight to turn to the northeast and asked the flight crew if they had enough fuel to be directed fifteen miles from the airport. First Officer Klotz replied, “I guess so thank you very much.
The controller then asked Avianca to climb to 3,000 feet (910 m). They were running out of fuel at that point. The controller asked the flight to climb once more to 3,000 feet (910 m). The captain asked the first officer again to “advise him we don’t have fuel.” The first officer replied, “Climb and maintain three thousand and ah we’re running out of fuel sir”.
The controller tried to radio the flight, asking, “You have enough fuel to make it to the airport?” There was no response.
At this point, the flight had already crashed. The aircraft disintegrated into three distinct pieces. They had run out of fuel, and it was too late.
Marketing in business can be just like that fuel in the plane, that runs the engine of a business. No matter what kind of business you have – you need the fuel of marketing to bring in customers through the door.
But every time you think of Marketing, it can easily seem like a land of overwhelm. It is hard even to begin or be consistent, with so many things and choices to market your business. Have you been in a situation where you miss things, and sometimes they are important ones? We have the best intentions, but then we find ourselves struggling to do all the things our business demands. The blog post we thought will be useful to put out never gets done. Or send the newsletter to announce that promotion you were meant to.
The solution is to get some control by getting organised with a Marketing Calendar.
Why can a Marketing Calendar take off pressure in your business?
1. Steadiness in business
Take this example of someone who has self-employed for about a year and a half. Things have been going very well, but she has 2 big customers. She has so far done nothing concerning marketing. She found these customers before she became self-employed. She spends a lot of time and energy on working on her products and other things in her business. What if these 2 customers turn down their projects and no longer need her? It’s in these conditions when we can feel entirely out of control and get desperate to bring in customers.
With a marketing calendar, you can be sure that you are treating your business seriously and doing your marketing steadily, which will build a customer base and an engaged audience over time.
2. Gives direction to your goals and makes decision making easier.
A lot of times, we set arbitrary goals and tasks in our business. When the time comes to execute them, we feel like we don’t have the purpose or mojo left to do them. That usually happens when you are doing some activity, and you can’t see a correlation with the direction you are going.
It can be resolved with having a marketing calendar when you know how your post on social media is a step towards a bigger goal of building your credibility which in turn will lead with trust among the people.
It also makes your long term and short term decisions easier. You are not deciding on an everyday basis whether to do Instagram post or send a newsletter out. Or how to tell your customers about this new product or service you just launched. It has already been planned and decided.
3. Saves energy and puts you back in control.
Having a marketing calendar undoubtedly helps you get organised, but the more important benefit of that is it gives you control over your business. There is already so much uncertainty in your business, and it is prudent to claim any control that planning and getting organised can give you.
Having a marketing calendar in place makes you take your business seriously enough to avoid the ebbs and flow cycles. It can be an ultimate accountability tool and stops you from taking random and reactive actions. It puts you back in control of how and when you make money.
It is a relief to know when you are sending that promotional email, posting on social media and all the rest, with some thought and intention behind those actions. You can then spend that energy that you’d otherwise spend on worrying about not taking care of marketing and use on something more useful.
How does a Marketing Calendar put more purpose in your actions on an everyday basis?
Say you want to go for a holiday. Just saying that you want to go away somewhere isn’t going to be enough. It could be a hiking holiday in Amazon national park or a beach in Fiji. They are two different itineraries with two different kinds of holidays. There can be many more itineraries.
Similarly, you have created a list of business goals and you are now excited about what you wanted to accomplish. Most of the times that list gets put away in a corner drawer or in the archived files on your computer. Come October, you can’t face looking at that And you can t face looking at the list in September.
You are not alone. It happens to be the best of us. One of the reasons it happens is because the goals don’t have any deadline. Having a marketing calendar with planned dates and broken down activities help you to get more control over your goals and move towards them consistently.
It puts more intentionality in your daily actions by defining why you had those goals, what you wanted to do to make them happen, and what dates you were going to make them happen by?
It helps you to get more commitment to small and big actions that serve a higher purpose in your business. Your everyday activities are now linked to a specific business goal, and you know what you are doing, but also why you are doing them — having a clear focus on all things intentionally and deciding the ‘how’ based on how your business operates.
Let’s put this knowledge in a plan and discuss how you create a marketing calendar now.
What are the critical parts of the marketing calendar?
If I were to simplify Marketing, there are three primary objectives for Marketing activities:
- To actively telling people to buy your services or products.
- Getting new people in the door and building an audience who listens to you and pays attention to you.
- Nurturing new people who come in your periphery and slowly move them towards buying the services/products.
Let’s break it down in steps how to do this.
Have you ever done a HIIT workout? It is a combination of a super intense burst of activity followed by an active recovery period. Similarly, you can layout a marketing plan by some standard actions throughout the year combined with
Being on top of mind activities
Most business focusses only on promotions and sales. The audience gets tired of those pretty quickly. A lot of businesses don’t spend enough time on building awareness, and then they think of marketing when they have to generate money. Straight sales is the only tool they use. So make sure you spread both kinds of activities throughout the period.
Step 1: Creating an overall heat map
In this step I recommend taking a printed yearly calendar on a A3 sheet and working backwards from your business goals. I create an A3 draft and then transfer to a wall calendar. Next, we will plot your personal priorities, commitments and holidays first. Those special birthdays, school holidays, getaways and trainings you want to do this year. It helps you to keep life as a priority.
Plot special days around which you will want to promote your products and services. Are there any relevant days for your business like Black Friday, Thanksgiving and other special promotional days.
From here decide what activities you will do to keep in front of mind on a regular basis? Social media posts, monthly meet ups or something else.
This step creates a bit of a heatmap which helps you to see which clusters of the time have more activity and which have more space.
You can then use these quiet periods to take time off or schedule in things you need to do to prepare for your promotions. This also gives a sense of how your day looks like. When you look at this overall heat map, it will give a sense where you should put your activities to go out in front of new people and what activities you need to warm up your existing audience.
Doing this step helps you to do more than just sending the promotional messages to your list whenever you think of doing marketing. You can see where the opportunities and roadblocks are, and decision making becomes easy now. This saves energy and time on the go.
Step 2: Decide the methods and channels.
Next step is to decide the channels you will use to achieve the three types of objectives we discussed above. What will you use to attract new people? How will you nurture and move those people towards gaining trust to buy from you eventually?
Those things can range from emails, workshops, blog, personal networking. I always recommend choosing these channels and activities based on what lights you up and your strengths.
Step 3: Deciding specific frequency and committing to the activities.
The question to ask is: what can you do that’s umm….doable?
And the second question: how often?
We all want to be in shape but fail to show up for the required workouts consistently. So think about what things you can commit to doing consistently.
Then commit to how frequently you will be doing these activities. Once a month newsletter or every week. A blog post once a week or every day. When will you organise sales coupons or free tasters demonstrations of your product to push more sales?
Once you decide the specific methods – what commitments you will make to yourself? It is best to build up your capacity to what you can commit to. It is better to be consistent than frequent with your efforts.
It is incredibly empowering to define what you will do and when. Instead of thinking about doing a guest post, you know that you will be doing one guest post for getting more people in your business every week.
With this activity and commitment, you know when you don’t have time to devote to any more activities. However, there are some points to keep in mind and avoid while creating your marketing calendar. Let’s discuss them below.
What are some of the mistakes people make with their Marketing Calendar?
Vague ideas without a plan
Usually, people start with a vague idea – I am going to put a new line in October. A sale in mid-year. That’s great but not as a plan. It is better to be as detailed as possible with your plan. Deciding your approach beforehand takes the guesswork and last-minute chaos out and building strength for the channels you plan to use.
Presuming nothing will go wrong and not making room for “life”
It is good to make some room for things that can go wrong and expect them so that you can be prepared. We tend to schedule things according to how we do things on our best day. We overestimate for what we can do and not allowing for bad days, bad hair, the internet` going down, people taking too long, designers taking too long to respond and situations like that. With the timelines, it is better to be realistic and not idealistic. It’s a great idea to create back up plans for those kinds of delays.
Assuming a higher level of competency
We tend to assume that we will know what to write the emails when the time will come, and we will know how to design the material. You can expect the answers you don’t have. All the things and tech you need to figure out. I am not saying this to scare you, but it is better to make room for those things instead of assuming that we will do things all perfectly.
So there you have it. Decide the activities based on your strength, business goals, and what objective they will fulfil. Then plot them in your calendar based on the frequency you decided – Instagram every day or three times a week, podcast once a week or once a month. And then hopefully, it takes the confusion and overwhelm out and propels you to start following the commitments you just made.
“The Dusty Tracks”
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They think you are crazy. Crazy enough to start this journey on the dusty tracks of freedom. To throw yourself into creating something from nothing. Some call it business. You call it Freedom. They say “This is a ridiculous plan. It will be exhausting.” You say “Some of us find normal …quite exhausting.”
You started the trek the dead centre of a seed of a crazy idea and now you know it will lead to the glorious ending of freedom and fulfilment. The winding road will be full of awkward, stumbling, messy points along the way. And very few people will be able to appreciate the beauty of trekking through this utterly barren land. That’s ok. As long as some people do.
I am one of those crazy adventurers too. Because I see your fire, and the daredevil inside you. I see that person who refuses to shrink and valiantly pursues the calling of her heart. I do too.
So join me, and others who scream that failure is normal, pursuit of purpose is liberating and dusty tracks are exciting.
I think we’d have a great time sharing our journeys, exchanging maps, sipping some tea around the fierce campfire along The Dusty Tracks.