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Marketing 101 - Calendaring for the New Year


Marketing 101:  Calendaring for the New Year 

By Elizabeth Slater

Caution: Dates are closer than they appear!

Here it is almost the end of the year again.  Hard to believe that another year is almost gone and there are lots of things we were planning to do still undone. What with the holidays coming up in addition to all the regular business chores, there is not much chance of finishing all the things on your list between now and when we start singing “Auld Lang Syne.”  

However, don’t despair, if you start now on a plan and a timeline now for the new year there is a good chance that some of the things that are still on the list can and will be taken care of in the first quarter of next year.  Don’t wait until January to start on the list, start before the end of the year, while you are still frustrated about what you didn’t get done and before you add next year’s items.

Break your list into different projects such as:

Marketing Programs
Collateral Materials
Publicity and Promotion
Retail Space
Staff Training

Then begin adding the different projects under each heading. Once that is done prioritize the items under each heading with a 1 (high) 2 (medium) 3 (low) priorities.  If you have a page full of #1 high priority tasks, take another look at the list and try to move some things around. Probably most things on the list are important but look for those that really are critical. Under these project headings you can then write in the tasks that need to be done to complete the project.  You may also add an estimate of the time you think it will take to finish the project.

It’s important to be clear about the difference between a project and a task. A task is a more simple activity does not have a lot of steps and is not connected with other tasks. A project is a set of interconnected tasks that will take more time and possible more people to complete.

Committing your mental list to paper with a timeline of when the projects will be accomplished increases your chances of starting and finishing these projects. There is something about putting things down on paper that makes them harder to forget or ignore. If the “To Do” list and ideas just roll around in your heads then they are much more easily forgotten or ignored.

If you are having trouble figuring out which projects and tasks are critical, because everything seems critical, ask yourself a couple of simple questions

Will this affect the profitability of my business?

Will it still be important six months from now?

If you have employees, add a column on your project list with the names or initials of the people who could help you complete these tasks.  Not only will you not have to do everything yourself, but you may find that your employees have hidden talents that will take some of the work from your shoulders and allow them to learn new skills, be more productive and get greater satisfaction from their jobs.

In order to give yourself the best chance of completion on all the projects you have listed get your work place in order before your start.  Does your office or work space encourage concentration and clear thinking or are you distracted by ringing phones, outside noise or people taking up your time.  Some of this cannot be helped, but if possible organize your time so you have an hour or two where you are not disturbed so you can work on your project.  If you can’t get an hour, start with half an hour. Also organize your desk, including putting something up there that is meaningful to you, a favorite quote or photograph can help inspire you.

Stick to your list and work your way through it. Start with an important project that has multiple short tasks.  Getting a few of these tasks completed quickly with encourage you to keep going.  Look at the tasks in some of the large projects and break them down even further, turning one long task into two shorter ones.

Lastly, an important thing to remember is to take some breaks. Get away from your desk and take a walk for five or ten minutes. When I am in the middle of a heavy work day, I will often times give myself a break to read a chapter of a book that I am in the middle off. Just those few minutes doing something different perks me up and I feel better for having done something that I enjoy.