Business marketing doesn’t operate on a typical calendar. While many people are putting away the grill and sharing pics from their 4th of July, marketers are already talking about their strategies for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Black Friday and even Christmas. This extended planning makes good sense when you think about it, especially for big companies that have massive logistics to set up prior to the start of the late-year holidays.

Large retail and manufacturing operations plan six months out because they have production deadlines, shipping costs and delivery lead time to figure out before the season turns hectic. That being said, smart business is smart business regardless of scale, and even small service-based companies can benefit from a six-month marketing calendar.

Your business may already set weekly and monthly goals to hit and keep your people focused and productive. That’s a great start, and you can reap significant benefits from parsing those goals out over a longer stretch of time, too.

Here are some tips for coordinating your long term goals with your six month, July-to-December marketing plan:

Product-based businesses and service-based businesses both need to plan month-by-month to the end of the calendar year. For each month, we’ve identified some potential areas that you’ll want to roll into your planning for product or service-based organizations:

July For Product Businesses:

Start planning what sales and discounts you will offer for the end of summer and back to school now, and begin preparing displays in the back accordingly. This will help you set achievable goals for your salespeople and keep your eyes on the prize for starting third quarter strong. Once you’ve locked down Back-To-School Season, start making plans for Halloween and Thanksgiving product displays. Keep track of how business trends as you go, especially when it comes to missing, making or exceeding your sales goals. If you stock product in house, make sure you are researching open-to-buy numbers for seasonal items to ensure you have all the right elements to make the product mix stand out.

July For Service Businesses:

How will your target audience get the most from your services for Back-To-School? How about Halloween and Thanksgiving? You can even use holiday themed content in your campaigns. Cleaning services might offer to “Take the horror out of cleaning the house for the holidays!” around Halloween, or focus on giving families more time to spend together and less time cleaning at Thanksgiving.

August for Product Businesses:

Start tracking those Back-To-School actuals now. Double check all Halloween product delivery dates and your marketing dates. Start designing those Thanksgiving displays on paper for the entire store. Take a minute and review sales targets, promotions and offers for November as a team.

August Service Businesses:

Start organizing your holiday marketing. Focus on recognizable holiday themes that coincide with your services. Banks and insurance companies can focus on classics like A Christmas Carol or a playful idea like Santa Claus shopping for global sleigh coverage for his trip round the world on Christmas Eve.

Keep this pattern of planning in advance a little bit at a time each month so that everything is ready for launch as each new holiday or season arrives. As the end of the year approaches, you’ll want to start planning for the spring and summer months and preparing a little at a time beginning in January and continuing through July. At minimum, your marketing calendar needs to be four to six months ahead of where you currently are to maximize your success.

You can use free resources like this marketing calendar template to get a rough outline sketched out, and then you can make more concrete plans as you near those deadlines on your calendar.

Need a hand with that marketing calendar?

Just ask our experts here at Green Vine Marketing. We’d be happy to conference with you so you can develop a six-month marketing calendar that keeps business booming all year long.