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Andrea Hill

Here’s How to Construct Your Annual Marketing Campaign Plan

It involves themes, dates, tactics and consistency.

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WHEN I ASK new clients for their most recent marketing plan, I am often handed a checklist of tactics. An executive summary of these plans would be something like, “We’re going to post on social media, send email, run some ads, do a bit of radio, renew our billboard, send out postcards, and cross our fingers.”

Barely 20 years ago, marketing a small business was much easier.

Today’s small-business owner faces the same marketing complexity as any consumer-goods conglomerate, but without big corporate marketing teams and outside advertising agencies. To make the best use of limited time and staff and all the channels and media begging for attention, it’s vital to develop your marketing plan through the lens of campaign planning.

Assuming that you have analyzed your market and customer behavior, reviewed last year’s marketing performance, identified customer needs and wants, and set goals and budgets for the coming year, the next step is to do top-down marketing planning.

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Develop a Theme

Start by defining a theme for each year. This can be based on something tangible, like a new store opening or major new product or brand releases, or it may be more conceptual. During the pandemic, businesses made good use of themes, embracing messaging about diversity and inclusion, tradition, or environmental sustainability.

Coming out of the pandemic, we see other themes emerging around being more social, having fun, and gathering for experiences. An overarching theme helps focus attention and energy and gives you the opportunity to create trust and brand recognition through repetition and familiarity. Even promotions that do not refer directly to the theme should echo the theme in some way. A good theme is like a mini-brand within your brand; it will have its own messaging, graphics, and a color palette.

Populate the Calendar

With your theme established, the next step is to create a broad calendar of promotions. I like using an annual calendar layout so I can see all 12 upcoming months in one view.

Start by penciling in all the usual promotions: holidays, events, seasonal experiences, and promotions that your customers have come to expect and support.

Next, look for the empty swaths on the calendar. How can you fill in the blanks with something interesting to promote each month? Your theme functions as a guide, helping you come up with ideas for promotions that are consistent with each other and that will help you achieve your marketing goals.

Turn it Into Campaigns

Once you have a promotional focus for each month, it’s time to turn the events on your calendar into campaigns. It might look something like this:

Theme for the Year: Celebrating Women

  • January: New Year, New You
  • February: Be Your Own Valentine
  • March: International Women’s Day
  • April: Make Your Own Luck
  • May: The Nurturing Month
  • June: New Fashion Brand Launch
  • July: Bite-Sized Summer Adventures
  • August: Rest & Rejuvenate
  • September: Never too old for back-to-school shopping!
  • October: Women’s Health Awareness
  • November: The Gratitude Month
  • December: Making Memories

In this example, calendar events like holidays are wrapped up in the monthly themes, ideally in unique and interesting ways. I once had a client say to me, “But we’re just making stuff up here!” Well … yeah. And he who makes the best, most interesting, most consistent stuff up in retail wins.

Apply Goal Metrics to Campaigns

Apply performance metrics to each campaign, making sure the sum of your campaign goals adds up to your strategic sales growth ROI goals for the year. Now you know what each campaign must produce to be successful.

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Break Campaigns Down to Tactics

Next, brainstorm the types and quantities of promotions you need. For example:

  • What are your instore and online traffic conversion rates, and how many ads, social posts, organic search results and radio spots do you need to drive sufficient traffic to your website and store to achieve your sales goals?
  • Which types of promotion lead to higher quality customers and higher margin sales sufficient to achieve your margin goals?

Your monthly themes will help you frame the tactics, and your annual theme will continuously tie them all together.

You still have nine months left in this year to get your marketing plan on point. Get out there and make some stuff up. Your marketing results and budget will thank you.

Andrea Hill is owner of Hill Management Group, with three brands serving the jewelry industry. Learn more at hill-management.com.

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