According to the American Heritage Dictionary, the definition of synergy is “The interaction of two or more agents or forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects.” Think about a getting a brand new grill. You’re ready for that big, juicy burger but the means for cooking it is neatly packaged up tight in this rather large cardboard box that’s tightly stapled shut. The reason being? There are more parts inside that box than you have teeth and each one has a purpose. Individually, they mean nothing. But when assembled correctly, according the directions and diagram, they are going to create the most magnificent grill where you’ll be able to cook the Mac Daddy of all burgers. And, if you leave out just one piece, you could be left with a grill that doesn’t deliver the goods!
Think of your marketing calendar like that big box of grill parts. You have all these areas of “marketing” that you want to explore: special events, print advertising, direct mail campaigns, website promotions, e-mail blasts, and maybe even some trade show attendance or display booth. Separately, each component may drive sales, but when linked together, they deliver a knock-out punch. Let’s say you want to drive more sales through your website. You’ll need to combine a traditional tool, like direct mail, to hit those people who aren’t actively surfing Use the piece to drive them to your website, where you have a targeted landing page that hits their nerve center and solves their problems. If you rely solely on your website to draw traffic on its own, you’re missing those other leads that could have been grabbed through an integrated approach!
Each item in your marketing toolbox can (and should) deliver positive results to your bottom line, but when mapped out on a marketing calendar, you can clearly see the marketing mix you’ve created with all the winning parts working in synergy.
And not only does maintaining a marketing calendar actually make you feel (and be!) more productive, the positive results from keeping your marketing mix alive allows you to then go out and toot your own horn! It will allow you to really analyze what parts of your business will stand out and create a clear vision of your true value proposition. Then you can tell your customers, and they’ll tell new customers, and so on and so on!
A marketing calendar allows you to map out your basic monthly marketing programs and guides you on a path of focus. Creating structure is key to your success. By writing down all your individual goals for each month in one place (by using a dry erase board or pencil and eraser), you can tweak and fine tune the plan while it’s in motion – applauding and repeating the programs that are successful and re-adjusting or removing those that aren’t. Experts say that if you literally write down your goals on a piece of paper, you’re more apt to accomplish them. The same goes for your marketing programs. Writing them on your calendar makes them real; this simple act turns the wishes in your head into live goals in front of your eyes. If they live, then you have to feed and nurture them. Writing them down also makes you accountable for them. Take a look at the following marketing calendar and see where you can plug in some of your existing programs. How do they fit together? Where do you need to make adjustments? If you’re planning to launch your new website in April, do you want to send out a direct mail postcard in February? Probably not. But the calendar will help you realize that late March or early April might make more sense. Do you have a new product or industry trend that you want to share with your customers? When will the product launch? A calendar will allow you to see the big picture of how you need to market this new product and when. And then make sure you track your costs and results for each one.
Your timeline for success
Many times it’s a struggle to get “buy-in” from co-workers, your boss, vendors, or customers because while you know your product is a success, you have no way of backing that up and telling its success story. Here’s where measuring all those results comes to fruition. Say you have a great idea that you know will sell thousands of widgets. It’s an innovative thought and you have unwavering confidence in the marketing mix that’s going to get the word out and the sales in. But your sales pros are balking at the idea and not jumping on your bandwagon. Do you let the nay-sayers deflate your enthusiasm? No! Instead, you massage your marketing calendar, putting together a timeline for the pieces that are necessary to make this business alignment campaign a success. In this way you create a visual map to success.
You project a 16% return based on your knowledge-based expectations, and that’s a good number. But because your initiatives are track able and measurable, you reap a 20% return instead. Now pick up that horn and blow! Start by telling your sales reps your story. This will give them firepower – and facts – to sell more for you. Then create a case study for your website to showcase how the successful plan worked and why. Finally, head to the folks who are always desperately trying to find newsworthy stuff to write about – your press release team – and let them tell you story even though they were the ones that pooh-poohed the idea to begin with! You now have a fantastic story to tell and also have the statistics to back it up, thanks to your marketing mix and planning. It’s like building a house of Legos – you might not need all the blocks, but they fit in there some way. Creating a marketing mix through calendar planning will help you stay true to your vision – and allow you to celebrate your successes!