You came up with a winning advertising concept. The design is better than you imagined. The photographer did a superb job. Unfortunately the final piece was delivered after the deadline and it won’t appear in time for your event date.
Time marches on and so should your marketing plan. I’ll say it again! Time marches on and so should your marketing plan.
Unless you sell Christmas trees, your business calendar doesn’t start and stop at Christmas. Your marketing plan should be developed around a dynamic rolling calendar. That way individual programs, events or even seasons won’t get missed.
By utilizing simple techniques like reverse time lines and rolling calendars you can get your buying in synch with your marketing and your marketing in synch with your selling cycles.
The Value Triangle is made of three components; COST, TIME and QUALITY
Pressure on one component affects the other two.
Example: If there isn’t enough TIME to complete the project within the standard turn around time then COST will go up for rush charges or QUALITY may go down due to the rushed timeframe.
A forth component may be IMPOSSIBILITY.Sometimes there just isn’t enough time or money for the project to be completed within the dictated parameters. Planning ahead will prevent this from happening.
A timeline is a tool for displaying a series of events in chronological order. It can be a list of dates and functions or a graphic showing a long bar labeled with dates, functions etc. The graphic approach is typical of a Gantt chart developed by Henry Gantt in the early 1900s.
Timelines are mostly used to show periods of time between two events. In our case the due date and the start date and critical milestones in between them.
A timeline is helpful for management of unwieldy projects. In these cases, timelines are used to help you know what milestones need to be achieved and under what time schedule.
For a reverse timeline I start with the ultimate due date. For example, the day you want customers to receive a mailing piece. Then, I add the time for each of the functions to determine the start date of the project utilizing some approximated times for key activities. It’s important to note that special projects may require some additional time.
Approximate times for mail, print etc.
• Concept, layout, design 2-4 weeks
• Photography 1-2 weeks
• Production 1-2 weeks
• Printing 1-2 weeks
• Process for mailing 1 week
• Mail, First Class 2-3 days, Standard (bulk) 1-6 weeks.
• Add in extra time at the beginning to work with your advertising agency or other suppliers you use to alert them to the project and review your goals, assumptions, and timing. Their input is valuable to the successful implementation of your project.
A rolling calendar or rolling twelve-month cycle throws out the notion of planning on a calendar year basis. No more planning from Christmas to Christmas
Imagine a room where 52 pages are displayed each representing a specific week.As one week is completed a new one would take its place.
You may not have key projects each week but you do have them throughout the year Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Trunk Shows, Ladies Night etc. Keeping in mind that some events may have multiple projects to support them.
Using the timeline outlined above and taking the longest lead, and adding some wiggle room will help determine how far in advance you need to start working on the project.
Let’s walk through a practical way to assure you have the appropriate planning in place.
Back up your calendar by 4 months for big events. So August 25 your calendar should say Christmas. Or November 14 should say Valentines Day.
You can also use the Rolling Calendar concept for planning your Social Media.
The advantages of a proper planning include-
• Allowing adequate time for creative development.
• More efficient media buys
• Sufficient time to order and receive inventory of the promoted product
• Personnel staffing so there are no gaps in coverage
• Personnel Training so everyone is up to speed
• Don’t forget co-op. As you meet with sales representatives in your store or visit suppliers at shows be sure to ask them what if any co-op they offer. It could come in the form co-op dollars or available graphics or flyers. Whatever they offer should be considered in your marketing plans.
• With these simple techniques you’ll start planning more for success.