Building Your Plan
Building Your Calendar
Gather Your Data & Dates
Gather all your dates, calendars, and events.
Company Calendar – If you’re part of a larger chain or group, get the calendar of events for any product launches, marketing events, and promotions. Also, make sure you have an updated operational calendar showing any training, inventory, or other required events that may take up time and attention.
Location Calendar – What events do you have scheduled locally? These could be local promotions, in-store events, charity events, mandatory training or product roll-outs, inventory, and meetings. Are there any days when your location is closed for a holiday? Booked for a special event?
National Holidays – Get yourself a detailed calendar that shows you all the key holidays or use a website. Along with standard New Year’s Day and Thanksgiving, also pay attention to Government and Bank Days, as well as key religious holidays that may be appropriate for your customers.
Marketing Events – These are special days that go beyond nationally recognized holidays, such as National Noodle Month (March), National Barbecue Month (May), or Peach Month (August). [See our…]
City / Town Calendar of Events – When is your town hosting its street fair or parade? Do you have a farmer’s market that may affect you? Is there any scheduled construction, development, closures, or street work projects that may affect your business? You can find these by checking out the websites for or calling your local Chamber of Commerce, Neighborhood Association, Tourism Office and Small Business Development Center for calendars.
Fill In What You Know
Once you’ve gathered all the dates you can, start filling out your calendar template. Put in everything you’ve got. If we have added more rows that you plan to use, delete. If you want more detail, add what you need. Make this your calendar.
Program Overlaps or Gaps
Okay, now take a look at your work so far.
Overlaps – Are there any overlaps where you have too much scheduled for a single month? A product roll-out during a time you were planning to do training? Can any of those be shifted? If not, can you make room *before* those events to allow more prep time?
Gaps – Are there spaces where nothing is going on. (That may be fine – you should plan for breaks). But, are there spaces when you have a new product or program launching but no specific activity to support it?
Regarding gaps, take a look at your sales goals. Do you have enough programming of in-store and out-of-store promotion to support the launch of your products and programs? Do you have training scheduled and set-up planned for these promotions?
The Communications Section
A document and plan like this makes it much easier to understand what the key messages are and should be. The topic and focus of your communications should match up with whatever the key theme and focus is for that time-period. If you have a charity event in March/April, you should start talking about it in March. Maybe even February. If you’re promoting a new product offering – that should be the topic of your newsletter and social media content.
Tips For Success:
- The best calendars include everything… holidays, new products and services, internal events (training), local events, etc.
- When it comes time to promoting your events, first consider all channels. This helps you keep an open mind and explore every relevant option. Then decide which channels are most appropriate. This helps you rein in your selection to what is practical.
- Create programming so all channels are saying the same thing about the same focus, including your website, social media, newsletter, in-store signage, employee talking points.
- Consider creating a simpler version of this calendar and posting it for your employees to see.
While this course is small, the benefits of a Communication Plan are huge! We use this format – both in expanded and shorter versions for so much of our planning. We know you’re going to find it useful !
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