How to Plan Your Marketing for the Entire Year

The start of the new year means it is time to plan.   It’s time to reassess goals, gain clarity and design your marketing plan for the year.   You may be asking, ‘why plan for the entire year’?  I used to plan month to month but then I realized, it is too easy to get distracted and forget to plan!  

How to Plan Your Marketing for the Entire Year

As a solo-entrepreneur, it is so easy to feel overwhelmed trying to do it all.  We wear many hats and sometimes the day to day can catch up to us and make us feel overwhelmed, disorganized and well.. somewhat like a failure.  Don’t get sucked into the bottomless pit of ‘to do’s without first setting up your plan.  It will help you feel like you have a sense of direction and even more importantly, it will help you achieve your goals in business. 

Planning ahead will:

  • Prevent Overwhelm
  • Create Balance
  • Maintain Confidence

Prepare Your Calendar

The first thing to do (besides obviously getting a calendar) is to prepare your calendar so that you can see your entire year all at once.  First go ahead and add the important dates that you will be off or away, then go through and fill in anything else that you know ahead of time.

  1. Print or purchase your monthly calendar (spoiler alert:  grab our free 2017 calendar at the bottom of this post) 
  2. Use a trusty 3 hole punch and add the printed months to a binder

Categorize and Color Code

The next thing to do is categorize the things you’ll be putting on your calendar.  

  1. Write out your categories on an index card and decide on a color to code for each with then label each accordingly
  2. Save your list for future reference

For example:

  • Brand Launches (PINK)
  • Blog Posts (BLUE)
  • Newsletters (GRAY)
  • Sales/Promotions (YELLOW)
  • Holidays (RED)
  • Vacations/Travel (RED)

Holidays and Vacations

Start with the items that will take you away from work so you know not to plan any sales or promotions during those times then block those dates off your calendar.  It may also be helpful to block off time before and after travel for catching up.

  1. Fill in important dates already planned (vacation/travel, birthdays, appointments)
  2. Block off time before and after to catch up

Sales and Promotions

No matter what type of business you have, you could have annual sales and promotions that are the same every year.  For example, as a graphic designer, I run a sale every Black Friday offering a percentage off brand packages, so I know I can add that to my calendar.  

  1. Schedule sales/promotions dates you know you will run 
  2. Schedule a blog post on or near that date to promote it

Giveaways

Giveaways are a great way to encourage sign-ups and new followers on social media.  If you participate in annual giveaways, you know it takes planning ahead to make them work.

  1. Schedule giveaway date and time
  2. Schedule teaser (a hint about the upcoming giveaway)
  3. Schedule announcement (when giveaway is announced)
  4. Schedule reminders (when giveaway will end)

Blog Posts

Blog posts require planning ahead  and creating a blog schedule is super helpful.  If you plan to blog or are already blogging, you need to stick to a schedule.  Even if you don’t have your topic nailed down, it helps to plan the occurrence of your tentative post.

  1. Schedule blog posts at regular intervals
  2. Try to come up with a general plan for the direction of your posts
  3. Schedule a reminder to write the blog post ahead of time

Newsletters

For the purposes of general planning, you don’t need to create the newsletter to plan to send it out.  Decide on a schedule to send your newsletter out and add to your calendar.  I would suggest adding a date to start the newsletter prior to the date you actually plan to send.  Give yourself enough time to write, edit and proof.

  1. Schedule newsletter 
  2. Schedule reminder to write newsletter
  3. Schedule date to sent

Focus

When planning for an entire year, its important not to get too hung up on the details.  This is simply your road map for the year.  It helps you maintain balance and allows you to feel confident because you have a plan.  If you need to make changes, go ahead!  Your yearly plan is not set in stone.  It may even help you achieve more of your desired goals for your business by allowing you to think through to your end result.  

  1. Look over your months ahead often
  2. Make notes and brainstorm
  3. Jot down ideas
  4. Don't stress!