While year-end business activities and the holidays are competing for most everyone’s attention, it’s never too early to start filling the content arsenal for 2013. What will you tweet about when everyone is recovering from the holidays? Is Valentine’s Day a marketing opportunity for your small business? In your industry, is January the best time to buy?
While the thought of planning for 2013 can be overwhelming given the hectic pace of Q4, you don’t want your marketing communications to ‘go dark’ because of inadequate planning. Here are three easy ways to plan for 2013 and ensure continuity between end-of-2012 and early-2013 marketing activities:
Develop a Content Calendar
While a nimble communications strategy that can be easily adapted in real-time should guide your marketing efforts, laying out a month’s worth of relevant content in advance can help to ensure a consistent brand presence. Review your 2013 business plan and identify any tradeshows, special events, speaking engagements and company milestones that will occur in January. Develop any news releases, e-blasts and social media marketing updates that will tie-in with these events. Other dates to consider include anniversaries of regulations or business rulings that significantly impacted your company and its clients, deadlines that clients need to have on their radar, etc.
Once a marketing event has been solidified, your small business communications team can go so far as to map out exactly how to word the 140-character teaser for your speaking engagement and succinct shareable Facebook updates about special events taking place at your tradeshow booth. For more information on the latter, take a look at our blog post about tips for effective tradeshow marketing. Nothing on the calendar for January? Consider manufacturing your own marketing opportunities.
Research Relevant Editorial Calendars
Monitoring editorial calendars is a great way to find relevant opportunities to pitch bylined articles from and interviews with key members of the leadership team. The important thing to remember is that monthlies work months in advance, so pitching in December 2012 may mean securing some valuable real estate in spring 2013.
After identifying relevant editorial calendar opportunities, dig deep into your company’s bank of intellectual property to find engaging, out-of-the-box story angles that will appeal to the publication’s readership. Think of this exercise as an investment in Q2-2013 marketing. When the article(s) finally print(s), you will have email-worthy, social media-ready content right at your fingertips.
Learn from Last Year’s Successes
Did your small business host a dynamic and informative breakfast workshop for clients and prospects? Was the creative campaign you developed for a tradeshow so successful that it propelled your marketing efforts for months? Are there events that your company repeats annually? Answer these questions to unlock a vault of 2013-ready marketing content.
While we don’t advocate for regurgitating exactly what you did in 2012, there are successes within each and every company’s marketing history that are worthy of an encore. Identify the recurring themes, events and timely opportunities that your small business can latch onto in 2013. Slot these items into your content calendar and a plan that stems far beyond January will start to emerge.
While creative, compelling and timely content is the core of an effective small business marketing communications program, recreating the wheel is time-intensive and unnecessary if there are strategies and tactics that have proven effective for your business in prior years. Whether your objective is to attract more leads, grow your online communities or increase your event marketing, the key is to develop a sustainable, integrated marketing strategy that can guide your efforts throughout the year. By starting to develop relevant content now, small businesses can avoid a marketing blackout in January 2013.