A tool showing what marketing events, media campaigns, and merchandising efforts are happening when and where, as well as the results are known as a marketing calendar. That sounds simple enough and it is. But the power of this calendar is in its ability to communicate, coordinate and measure performance.
In other words, it's not simply a calendar for planning; it is a tool for your whole team (front and back) to align and plan for best results. Too often, a brilliant marketing event is derailed by a lack of inventory or poor planning and execution by the team. Here are 4 ways a marketing calendar will grow your business:
Anyone will tell you that communication is the key to success. Effective communication, though, is very hard in a retail store. Many stores opt for the "message board" in the break room. However, this form of communication should only be used as a refresher or reminder.
When you leave your communication to a piece of paper you are opening yourself up to the interpretation of the employee. Is it important or not? How much of a priority is it? Hard to tell from paper, but can be expressed and understood through verbal communication.
However, posting the marketing calendar for the month in the break room is a great idea. Again, you have given it to every employee and discussed in your meeting, and trained on it in your training session. So this copy is a constant reminder of how important it is for everyone to be one the same page. Which leads us to the next tip.
In my work with retailers, I often find the existence of "silos" in the business. This refers to the fact that the sales team is not coordinated with the operations team. For example, during one of the sale events in my stores, we missed the loss leader item on the sales floor. The operations team had buried the boxes and did not know they were part of a promotional event. In this instance the person to blame was me. I failed to make sure all of the employees knew the ad and the promotion.
In other words, if I had included the marketing calendar in the weekly store meeting, this would have been avoided. The operations team would have been coordinated with the sales team and had the right merchandise ready to go. Make sure you are communicating with the whole team, not just sales. The employees will often point out issues or things that need to be coordinated for success.
The biggest mark of the health of a retail store is year over year sales growth. Does your store sell more in May this year than it did in May last year, for example? Often times, we forget that the reason our sales from last year were so good was because of a sales event we planned in the store.
In my stores, we did many DIY holiday events. This is the practice of making up a sale around our own holiday. Or sometimes we just celebrated nonsensical holidays like national hot dog day. Nothing to do with shoes, but created buzz and sales for the store.
Having a marketing calendar from last year helped me plan for this year. It made sure I didn't forget a random DIY event from last year. It made sure that I "annualized' events. Now that does not mean you have to do the same events every year. But it does mean that you have to be careful when planning to beat last year that you consider what brought the customers in.
Probably the best benefit of a marketing calendar is planning. How do you spend your open to buy? How do you spend your advertising or marketing dollars? How do you schedule employees? All of these are driven by the events in your store. And all of these are the most controllable expenses in your store.
So planning ends up being the key contributor to profit in your store. As part of your annual review of the business, plan out your calendar year in advance. It's okay to adjust and edit as you go, but this head start will serve you well.