How to Organize Your Marketing Efforts + Free Planner
I hear this pretty often from entrepreneurs and small business owners who run their own marketing campaigns: how do I stay organized? How do I keep track of everything that needs to get done? How do I prioritize, how do I know what I should be doing week after week?
The short answer is figure out your objectives, your why, your resources and set priorities. The long answer implies planning ahead, budgeting for outsourcing some tasks and for automation tools, learning how to use content calendars, how to keep track of KPIs and using analytics tools. But before you drive yourself mad, scroll down the page to see the 6 steps you can take to improve your marketing organization and implementation skills right away. There’s also a free daily marketing planner you can download to keep track of everything.
Now, before we get this show on the road, there are a couple of things I want you to know about brainstorming and implementing marketing campaigns. Many small business owners and solo entrepreneurs believe they need to be everywhere in order to grow. Many small businesses will spread themselves too thin by juggling multiple marketing channels with limited resources and marketing knowledge. If we add a limiting mindset to the mix, then it’s no wonder there are so many people out there struggling with promoting their business.
You’re seeing big companies successfully juggling multiple marketing channels. They kick ass on their website, they have an amazing blog, they run Facebook with ads, and videos, they are all over Instagram with eye candy photography, they have their own podcast, their own vlog, email automation, possibly e-commerce or merchandise shop, they run influencer campaigns, do trade shows, offline networking events and the list could go on, and on. And you want to be right there, competing with them, so you’re attempting do it all at the same time in an attempt to catch up with the big boys.
But you’re just not there yet in terms of resources. So, instead of trying do it all, evaluate your resources and assign growth objectives that will allow you to increase your visibility and revenue in a smart, conscious and most importantly, truly aligned with your target audience’s needs.
Take a deep breath and do things your own way, in your own pace, and remember what Richard Branson said: A big business started small.
1. Set realistic objectives
This could be a painful way to start planning your marketing efforts, but instead of struggling to meet unrealistic objectives in an unrealistic time interval, you would be better off by focusing on achievable, clear objectives that can gradually build up to a big milestone.
eg: if you are a fashion designer and want to compete with the likes of Vera Wang or Louis Vuitton, ask yourself how realistic it is to do that with a small business budget within the next year.
Big goals are awesome to have, but make sure you give yourself enough time to catch up. Putting yourself and your team under the pressure of gaining market share against competitors with decades of experience and millions of $ already invested in branding, advertising and marketing is a sure fire way to end up exhausted, and most likely broke.
Break that big goal into smaller chunks and assign time intervals that make sense to your present state, and always keep an eye for the actions and opportunities that move you closer to achieving important milestones.
2. Plan ahead
Now that you have your objectives set in place you can start planning ahead your marketing efforts. For instance if you run an online shop, it is very important to be prepared for the high sale season that is Q4. You can’t expect to make big sales overnight, if you haven’t spent time to build an email list, or grow website traffic, or prepare your inventory. This gives you time to setup lead magnets, spread your advertising budget over multiple months, develop marketing tactics to increase traction, and prepare your product pages.
Know when your audience needs you and work your marketing efforts to gradually build up to your objectives. Lets say you plan on launching a fashion collection at a trade show 6 months from now. If you leave it to the universe and only start promoting one month before you might be surprised to find out you’ve missed on sales and press opportunities. Preparing ahead of time by reaching out to stockists to invite them to the launch, sending out teasers to bloggers, creating landing pages, uploading the products on your website, creating content on your social media and blogs to entice potential customers is a great way to gradually build traction without investing a leg and an arm to do it all in the month before the event.
3. Evaluate your resources
You have your objectives and you have a timeline, it is time to evaluate your resources. Start with your properties (website, blog, social channels) and see which of them has worked best until now to deliver leads, and sales. Are those channels fit for your target audience? What can you do to optimize the user’s experience on those channels? Are there any trends you should keep track of?
What other channels could you use that you’ve disregarded until now? Do market research to find out if your target audience is using those channels, what are the best strategies and estimated costs.
Now that you have an evidence of channels, ask yourself where could you excel? Do you have enough human resources to cover all those channels? Is that a realistic strategy? If you’re a one person show, how much time can you invest every single day into working on your marketing campaigns? What would be the tactics that would make more sense into helping you achieve your objectives?
Sometimes you might find out that you’re avoiding high potential tactics because of a limiting mindset. For instance, your audience might be on Facebook, but you are so shy of using Lives or videos on this channel, that you completely disregard this opportunity. OR you might be too wary of your short term budget to invest with a PR agency or influencer marketing, although in the long term those tactics would be what you need to grow. OR you might struggle with impostor syndrome so instead of using webinars, lives and video trainings to educate and collect leads, you’re still struggling with networking on Facebook groups, sharing your articles anywhere admins would allow it.
4. Outsource & automate marketing activities
You don’t have to do it all yourself, and you don’t have to invest in an agency or to hire an in-house marketing employee if your budget is restrictive. However you still have the option to outsource some of your marketing activities to VAs or specialists. It’s something you can do project-based (like landing page creation, funnel setup, setting up Facebook or Instagram advertising, content creation for your blog, social media management etc).
If that’s really out of the question for now, you can always use marketing automation and scheduling tools to make it easier for you to plan ahead and support your objectives. Here are four of my favorite tools to automate my marketing activities:
Mailchimp (marketing automation like welcome sequences, abandoned shopping carts or even scheduling your newsletters ahead of time)
Optinmonster* (develop sign-up forms and embed them into your website, different pages, to invite website visitors to join your email list. You can target visitors at various stages in their buyer journey and even by assigning different criteria, like pages they visited, time they enter the website, exit intent etc) - affiliate link.
Tailwind* (schedule content on Pinterest and Instagram without the hassle of manually doing that yourself using the apps) - affiliate link, you get a free trial with it.
Buffer (schedule content on LinkedIn & Twitter)
5. Use Content Calendars
Content calendars go hand in hand with the step where you plan ahead. Content calendars are great because you don’t have to struggle coming up with new ideas every single week and you avoid missing out on important events or search trends because you didn’t know about it.
Content calendars are great both for social media and your blog. In your business you are sure to have multiple events and opportunities to share content at various moments throughout the year. The calendar helps you keep track of what needs to go out and when. Coordinate that with a marketing planner (like the one at the bottom of the page) to find out how you can recycle the same content from a marketing channel on another one (eg: writing a blog post, sharing it on Pinterest, doing an IG TV video about it, sharing in a post on Facebook, writing an article on LinkedIn, sending a newsletter).
I use a customized Google spreadsheet content calendar that has a general tab where I keep track of everything, and individual tabs for every marketing channel under my belt. I use it to record past content, as well as to plan what needs to get published weeks and months ahead.
You can get started with this free content calendar template from Coschedule and work your way up from there to see what works for you.
6. Use Analytics to keep track of what works and what doesn’t
You can’t know what works and what doesn’t if you’re not looking at your analytics. I know, a lot of negations here, but you don’t know what you don’t know until you start investigating. I use Google Analytics to look at who is visiting my blog, where are they coming from, what keywords I am ranking for in organic search, what are the most popular blog posts, what pages are getting me the most conversions, what social networks are sending traffic my way.
Same goes for the other channels I use. I look once a month at Facebook (reach, engagement and video views), Pinterest (popular boards, reach, clicks and audience profile), Instagram (reach, engagement and stories), LinkedIn (views), email (monthly signups, open and click rate).
Record your data monthly and evaluate every 3 months to figure out how your marketing efforts have been moving the needle. Allow at least one year of data to be collected before you decide a specific channel doesn’t work for you. Remember that different audiences will have different needs and search patterns. For instance if you’re evaluating using Pinterest in your mix right after the summer, you might not be impressed with it. If you’re evaluating Pinterest after the holiday season, you might be impressed with the results, provided that you’ve spent time growing this channel.
In marketing it is very hard to advance if you’re not keeping track of your activities, especially if you’re using multiple channels in your communication. Over the many years I have worked with businesses to help them grow I developed various systems that would help me keep track of what needs to be done and when. Yes, I said when. Consistency is another important part of being successful in marketing.
When I launched my own visibility campaign, last year, I decided to create a custom planner that would allow me to plan and keep track of all my marketing initiatives on a daily base. Then, week after week I could go back and see what I’ve done, what results I got with that tactic. Essentially, after a month I would have a clear, beautiful picture of what I managed to get done, and coordinate those tactics with reports that would allow me to analyze their performance.
I’m sharing my daily marketing planner with you. This is a digital Google presentation doc that you can get here. Copy to your Drive and customize it to fit your own weekly marketing efforts.