We’re approaching the last third of 2015, and since our society tries to cram a lot of holidays and whatnot into those last four months, it’s easy to become overwhelmed, overlook details, and quickly move into reaction mode.
While I love my Teux-Deux list and CoSchedule calendar, I do my best planning with a trusty pencil and paper. Using a program like Word or Publisher, I create and print a blank calendar for a specific timeframe. For this time approaching the end of the year, I create a calendar for September 2015 through the end of January 2016. I add an extra month at the end because I’m deadline oriented. Once an event or project is complete, it’s too easy to move on to the next and forget any follow up unless I schedule it on the planning calendar.
Some obvious items for your calendar might be Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. After that you might note Black Friday and Small Business Saturday. Do you host a Teacher Appreciation Day? A Fall Sidewalk Sale? Get them on the calendar.
Now you can create a more detailed breakdown of tasks that are typically overlooked. Does Santa stop by the store on Small Business Saturday? When’s the best time to reach out to him before he becomes overbooked? Do you start to panic in mid-December when your stock of store gift cards runs low? When is the last date you can order them to ensure they arrive on time without paying for rush charges? Since corporate and institutional gift giving decisions are usually not made in December, when is the best time to reach out to businesses, principals, administrative assistants, and the like? These are all dates to add to your planning calendar.
This is also a good place to determine your holiday hours. Maybe last year you tried to stay open for Trick or Treaters, but quickly realized you were just a provider of restrooms. Jot down your new Halloween hours. Or maybe last year you let a few too many booksellers leave town for Thanksgiving and you were overwhelmed on Small Business Saturday. This planning calendar is a good place to determine the staff you need, how many vacation requests can be granted, and whose turn it is.
Obviously every store is different as are your needs. One store with a cafe might focus on catering trays while another is more concerned with gift wrap and always having an abundance of tape.
A little bit of pre-planning can save you time, money, and headache. If you only have 300 Seconds to devote to marketing today, just start with a blank calendar. You’ll be further ahead than you were 5 minutes ago.