Small and medium sized businesses have limited marketing resources. We all know and understand this, so I think that the small and medium sized business should invest in an annual content plan that will be associated with its marketing and sales goals for that year.
When we work in such an organized manner, we get to enjoy several benefits. First of all, we’ll have a clear and defined marketing budget and we’ll also know how much we’re going to spend each month on marketing. We can prepare financially.
Also, we’ll never miss another important timepoint, marketing-wise, we’ll never miss the boat when it comes to a holiday or other important event from a sales promotion aspect and start chasing our own tails in an attempt to catch up. We’ll come prepared, focused, sharp, and as a result our marketing efforts we’ll be more effective.
Sounds good, right? So come on, let’s dive in...
A content plan is actually a master plan that guides us throughout the year with regards to when and what we have to prepare and for what marketing purpose. When we adopt this method we arrive at all the important events in our business on time.
The content plan enables us to break down all the tasks and/or big marketing achievements that we want to attain during the year into small, clear, and well-defined tasks.
So, on the one hand, we can more properly prepare with regards to resources, costs, and time, and also eliminate the fear factor or the feeling of being mentally and emotionally overwhelmed when we aren’t properly prepared.
If we look at the technical or the practical side of things, the content plan, at least as I see it, starts with an Excel table.
That’s all...an Excel table...but believe me, this table brings a lot of order, logic, and peace of mind.
And don’t worry, at the end of the article you’ll get a link where you can download the template I’ve been using for years.
For small clients like therapists, boutique shops, and so forth, and also for bigger clients like various high-tech companies, big lifestyle brand chains, and more.
So let’s dive in, to the practice. Where do we start?
I, as a practical and task-oriented person, start building the content plan by opening a calendar with the business owner I’m working with. Together we mark the dates when we want to offer special sales or promotions. Each business has its own sales seasons. But a rule of thumb is that in Israel it’s always best to prepare for sales promotions before Rosh Hashana and Passover. After these two timepoints, we’ll continue defining timepoints where we’ll want to embark on special sales campaigns, like before August and at the end of the fiscal year.
**Note that we haven’t yet discussed the content of these sales. We’ve only marked these dates in the calendar when we want to go live with a unique sales promotion campaign.
Once we earmark these dates, we’ll look for additional dates, maybe months when a new collection arrives at the stores, like mid March for the spring / summer collection. And so on. We don’t have to offer special sales to our customers every month. In the months we don’t offer any specials sales, we’ll want to expand our community and outreach. We’ll want to advertise a variety of content via several marketing avenues to strengthen the connection with the community as well as stay relevant. Concurrent to continuously advertising content, you have to consider setting up financed campaigns to collect email addresses and cellphone numbers and to increase our mailing list.
Once we’ve gone over the calendar and decided what marketing activity we’ll employ each month: sales promotion,
a campaign to increase your mailing list or perhaps a contest with prizes, we’ll want to examine every such action and break it down into its component parts.
Example - a campaign to increase mailing lists:
• How will we cause people to sign up for our list? What will we give them in return? A benefit or a free gift? A discount or maybe a digital recipe booklet?
• Landing page
• Setting up and managing the campaign
Once we’ve determined the larger elements of the marketing plan, we’ll continue to break things down into smaller components.
Benefit or free gift
So how will we make customers give us their contact details? Maybe with a coupon code to redeem on our site or store. From my experience, free gifts work better in recruiting potential customers’ contact details. I’ve been working for several years with a chain of restaurants that also owns a chain of butcher shops, and before the holidays we always start a campaign to recruit contact details for a digital recipe booklet. We target this campaign to a target audience that is within reasonable geographical distance from the chain’s branches and that have expressed an interest in cooking and food. Every year we renew this recipe booklet and these campaigns are always very successful.
This section includes 3 sub-sections. The landing page has to be built on some platform, usually small and medium sized clients use landing pages that can be built on the various mailing software programs. All of the current mailing software programs make it possible to build a landing page on them. It’s really convenient, saves a lot of time, money and hassle.
Once we’ve solved the issue of the platform we’ll move ahead to the content of the landing page. The page should be professionally designed and written by a professional marketing writer.
Setting up the campaign
We’ll usually set up an email recruitment campaign on Facebook. If you don’t know how to work on Facebook’s advertising system then I strongly urge you to hire a professional. I know that it costs money in addition to the media expenses you’ll pay directly to Facebook, but it’ll give you good results. Much better than you’ll be able to achieve on your own.
We’ll want to go over all the main headings of your content and to break them down into smaller parts and tasks. Once we’ve broken down all the various headings throughout the entire year we’ll have to allocate a budget to each and every task.
Almost all the headings we break down have a wide variety of prices. Every business owner needs to know how much he’s going to spend on his marketing.
Once we concentrate all the price offers, we can also complete an additional and very important heading in our work plan, which is how long is needed to complete each and every heading to complete the “main” heading. When we’ve gathered all this information, we can start working on conducting the tasks at the right time in order to be prepared for each of the important dates that we set in our master plan.
If you are scheduling a photo shoot with a professional photographer, it’s important to get as much done as possible to save costs. If you already have all or some of the products you will sell next season as well, photograph them as well at the next photo shoot. During the photo shoot, use your cell phone to photograph and film “making of” style photos and videos. This type of content generates a great deal of interaction among the customer audience, and you can use it on various social media during the photo shoot.
Every mailing list system today also includes unlimited landing pages at no extra cost. If you see that during the year you have a lot of campaigns that require landing pages, it’s worthwhile to make a one-off investment in graphic design of a template that you can edit yourself using tools you have, or using the landing page interface on the mailing software program. This way, you’ll achieve the following: save costs, you’ll stay dynamic, and of course, your landing pages will look enticing and professional... Nowadays, our visibility online is becoming increasingly more important for businesses of all sizes.
Task management tool
There is a variety of tools and applications on the market designed to help us manage our tasks more efficiently. Some are free, some cost a symbolic sum, and some cost a more hefty sum. In my opinion, and this is what I also advise my clients, it has to be convenient and accessible for you! So look for a tool that works well for you, one that you are compatible with, even if that means that you use an old-fashioned notebook and pen! Because don’t fix it if it ain’t broke.
Professional writing of landing pages
If you know that you’re going to make a lot of use of landing pages throughout the year, it’s worthwhile to consider a few options to lower costs: negotiate with a marketing writer regarding an annual amount of landing pages. Decide on the dates you need to start working on them and the dates you need to complete them. Buying several landing pages from a professional writer will definitely lower the price quote.