While it’s never too late to create a marketing calendar, the start of a new year is an ideal time for financial advisors to revamp their strategies and plan for the year ahead. Whether you’re a casual social media user or a marketing maven, a marketing calendar is a must-have organization tool to define how you will disseminate content and increase the number of prospects with whom you connect. A marketing calendar helps you:
- Organize, prioritize, and track your marketing initiatives and business goals
- Consistently create, share, and promote quality content
- Cut down on wasted time
- Manage your budget
- Clarify how you will attract prospects
- Specifically define a step-by-step process of what you will accomplish (and how and when)
A marketing calendar doesn’t have to be a complex, 30-page spreadsheet. You can get started right now and create your calendar for the year in just a few simple steps.
Step 1: Choose a Calendar Format
There are many free ways to develop your marketing calendar. You can create your plan in a Word document or Excel spreadsheet, or write it down with the ever-reliable pen and paper. If you’re looking for something more advanced, search online for a marketing calendar service. Some services charge a monthly fee while others allow you to download a free template.
Step 2: Formalize Achievable Goals and a BHAG
What exactly do you want to accomplish through your marketing? Your answer shouldn’t just be “more clients with $1 million investable assets.” Define specific objectives that are meant to result in more clients that fit within your target market. This could be building your social media following, expanding your reach within your community, or establishing yourself as a thought leader within a specific group (say, women executives, doctors who own a small practice, or families with special needs children).
Along with achievable goals, I recommend everyone sets a BHAG — a Big Hairy Audacious Goal. The brainchild of American business consultant, Jim Collins, a BHAG is a goal that may take years to accomplish and, ideally, it is something so grandiose that there is only a 50 to 70 percent chance of ever achieving it. This isn’t meant to set you up to fail; rather, a BHAG is designed to stop you from thinking too small and establish a sense of urgency. I dare you to create a BHAG and keep it posted on a piece of paper in your office.
Step 3: Evaluate Tactics for Accomplishing Your Goals
Once you’ve established your goals, you need a strategy for achieving them. If you want to build your social media following, much of your marketing energy will be devoted to creating and sharing content on your social media profiles. If you want to extend your community reach, evaluate events you can host, or community groups in which you can participate. If your goal is to establish yourself as a thought leader, focus on blogging or writing a book.
Step 4: Determine Frequency
How often will you post on social media, host events, or write a blog post? Your marketing calendar will help you stick to a set schedule. While it’s great to have big goals (or, dare I say, a BHAG), keep your frequency realistic. For example, as much as I’d like to spend an hour a day on social media interacting with my connections, I know I realistically won’t accomplish that. Start small and amp up your frequency further down the road. For the first quarter of the year, plan to write one blog post a month. For the second quarter, increase to twice a month, and so on. If you’d like to get more done than you can do yourself, consider asking a coworker to help or outsourcing to a company or freelance consultant.
Once you set your frequency, add the schedule to your marketing calendar. Color code by type of marketing initiative, such as red for social media, blue for blog posts, orange for events, and green for email newsletters.
Step 5: Define Who Will Do What
Play to your strengths and hire your weaknesses. Do what you are good at and find those who excel where you don’t. If you don’t have the time to post on social media every day, use an automated content service to post three days per week, and create custom posts two days per week. Work with a freelance writer to create blog posts or to help you organize and edit your book.
Once you’ve created and launched your marketing calendar, there is always room for adjustments. Regularly evaluate the performance of your efforts to see what is performing well and what isn’t. You can measure these results by seeing how many people liked, shared, favorited, or retweeted a social post, or how much website traffic you received when you posted a new blog. If you don't see results, adjust your strategy or research opportunities to improve. If you discover a certain strategy doesn’t align with your target market, eliminate or replace it with a more effective tactic.
With a marketing calendar in place for 2016, you can expand your marketing efforts, test new initiatives, and steadily build your business.