FREE Marketing Plan Template
A Sample 12 Month Promotional Calendar for Small Businesses
Written By: Sharron Senter
The following is a free marketing plan template that outlines a 12 month promotional
marketing calendar. Keep it handy, as you'll need to refer to it throughout the coming
year when forecasting your promotional messages. By no means is this list exhaustive. In
fact, you should add to it based on your industry-related activities. There are many
holidays throughout the year that may be a natural tie-in with your product or service,
such as National Book Week in January, if you're an author or editorial-related service or
American Heart Month in February, if you sell health-related services or products.
My calendar list focuses on the major holidays when most Americans have been trained
to spend extra money or participate in a ceremonial activity. Generally speaking, you
want to link your marketing promotions to a time of year when customers have their
wallets out. Thus, you're simply positioning your product or service as the perfect gift or
solution for the celebrated event.
You can never be too early in preparing your marketing campaigns. For example, in
order for the typical small business owner to prepare for a Valentine's Day direct mail
campaign, you'll need to get most of your materials printed and ready to go by the third
week in January and in the mailstream by the last week in January, certainly no later than
the first week in February. I recommend you plan two months in advance. Thus, you
should start planning your Mother's Day campaign in early March. Obviously, the more
involved the campaign, the more lead time. What's more, some advertising vehicles have
extensive lead times, specifically magazines that need your camera-ready ad
approximately 6 weeks [possibly more or less] before publication, and newspaper inserts
also require a reservation approximately 6-8 weeks before publication.
Your promotional angle is the key to standing out from your competition. People are
going to buy gifts at Christmas, without a doubt. But what makes your service or product
so interesting, that shoppers should hand over their money to you instead of the myriad
of other stores? Find a creative answer, and you'll grow your business.
If you do not have deep pockets, then you must use a combination of paid and unpaid
advertising and marketing strategies to get the word out and attract new customers. Try
the following marketing plan template on a quarterly basis. The following strategies will
keep the phone ringing for most small businesses:
Quarterly Marketing Template Sample Activities
- Mail a minimum of 1,000 pieces of direct mail, ideally a postcard, to your target
audience. NOTE: Direct mail is one of my favorite forms of marketing because you can
buy the “exact” name and title of your target audience. There’s hardly any waste,
especially when compared with broadcast media such as radio.
- Call 10 of your past customers every two weeks. Approximately one out of every 10 will
need to do business with you again.
- Distribute a news brief to the media. Don’t forget about TV! Here are two great
resources for story ideas to pitch. I haven't found anything better in terms of idea
creativity and how to do it. "116 WOW! Story Ideas from January to June" OR "103
Sizzling Story Ideas from July through December."
- Attend two target audience related networking events. For example, if you're a human
resources consultant and you have experience in the medical industry, then you may want
to attend the local chapter of the national nursing director's association group, i.e., a
group where the decision-maker to hire you socializes.
- Follow up with a call or note to networking contacts from previous quarters.
By doing the above marketing activities each and every quarter, your phone will continue
to ring. However, sales leads will do you no good if you lack follow up or you’re not
targeting the right audience.
- New Year's Day, and the proceeding two weeks -- Launch your marketing messages the
last week of December.
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Day -- Although not a big gift-giving time, this is a great time to
spread a non- profit message.
- Valentine's Day -- Launch your marketing messages the last week in January. **Popular
Gift- giving Time**
- President's Day
- St. Patrick's Day
- April Fools Day
- Daylight Savings Begins
- Easter **Popular Gift-giving Time**
- Secretaries Days **Popular Gift-giving Time**
- Mother's Day -- Launch your marketing messages approximately 3 weeks before.
**Popular Gift-giving Time**
- Memorial Day
- Father's Day **Popular Gift-giving Time** Launch your marketing messages
approximately 3 weeks before.
- Graduation **Popular Gift-giving Time** Launch your marketing messages
approximately 3 weeks before.
- Independence Day
- Back to School -- Although not a holiday, it's certainly a popular time to find wallets
open and increased spending, particularly by moms and teenagers.
- Dog days of summer
- Back to School continued
- Back to School -- Marketing messages can continue through the first week of
- Labor Day
- Grandparent's Day
- Columbus Day
- Halloween **Popular Gift-giving Time**
- Holiday preparation should be 1/4 completed, seriously. Launch your first holiday
message immediately after Halloween. This message will generally go to your current
customer base, offering them an exclusive early-bird holiday special to expire in early
- Daylight Savings Ends
- Thanksgiving **Popular Gift-giving Time**
- Your Holiday advertising is in full swing
- Election Day
- Veteran's Day
- Christmas Day **Popular Gift-giving Time**
- Hanukkah **Popular Gift-giving Time**
- New Year's Eve -- Launch New Year's message late the second week in December.
About the Author
Sharron Senter is a Boston marketing consultant, speaker, writer and founder of Senter
& Associates, a marketing communications firm that helps small businesses deploy low-
cost online and offline marketing tactics. Senter is well known for her free emailed
marketing tips found at http://www.sharronsenter.com/fmt.htm She’s also the
cofounder of http://www.VisitingGeeks.com an on site computer repair, networking,
security and wireless company serving small businesses and homeowners north of
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