It’s a fact, defining goals without creating any supporting actions means your targets will never be attained. If you are reaching for steady sales, you need steady marketing to pull those opportunities toward you.
Like many of you, I own a small business and all too often the urgency of day-to-day operations takes priority over my own marketing. Having your marketing calendar set for the year helps turn marketing into daily and weekly practices, and not a last minute rush to hit that promo deadline.
In today’s follow-up to my goal setting episode 69, I’m sharing five steps to creating an actionable marketing plan for the coming 12 months. I’ll start with an update to my own goal-setting work, then walk you through steps you can take to calm the chaos of your own good food marketing. And I’ll close with a preview of some coming attractions for Good Food Marketing in 2023 with me, The Virginia Foodie.
Virginia Foodie Essentials:
- We all struggle with the constant issue of operations getting in the way of marketing. By operations, I mean the day-to-day running of a business, a department, or even your primary job description within a good food brand. - Georgiana Dearing
- Most of the information I share stems from mistakes I’ve made in my work and the lessons I learned to avoid making them again. - Georgiana Dearing
- The beauty of setting smart goals for yourself is that you'll still make progress, especially if you're checking in on your strategic plan regularly. Sometimes the progress you are tracking is reflected as refinement, and that's okay. - Georgiana Dearing
- It is lovely to have a mission-based business, but not one of us should be so altruistic that we will do all of this work for free or low pay. - Georgiana Dearing
- Content buckets are the underpinnings of your brand messaging, and for good food brands you have four natural buckets to start with: your mission, your products, your products in use, and your community. - Georgiana Dearing
Key Points From This Episode:
- Goal setting should be comprehensive, specific, and as succint as possible.
- When creating your list of goals, you should start with a clear description of the end result you want to achieve.
- After clearly defining your goals, the next step is to create an action plan to help you hit your targets.
- To create your annual marketing plan, start with these 5 steps:
- Step 1: Create a marketing calendar
- Step 2: Block in your marketing tactics
- Step 3: Set your brand holidays
- Step 4: Create content themes
- Step 5: Define your content buckets
- If you are interested in more guidance, pre-register for my QUICK START: Social Media Calendar. I outline the Annual Marketing Plan because it’s the foundation for a year of content planning, too!
Follow The Virginia Foodie here:
Note: We use AI transcription so there may be some inaccuracies
[00:00:00] Hello and welcome to the Virginia Foodie Podcast. I'm George Dearing and I provide marketing strategy and coaching for good food brands. And this is another marketing Monday, a time when I share tips and tricks, observations and insights into the good food industry. Today I've got three quick topics for you.
[00:00:20] Georgiana Dearing: I'm gonna revisit the goal setting topic and share my progress with you since the start of the year. Then we'll look at the next natural step after setting your goal, creating your annual marketing plan. And lastly, I'll give you a peak at some changes coming for my own business.
[00:00:36] Georgiana Dearing: I am a small business owner, just like many of you, and I'm in charge of product development as well as my own marketing. And to compound things even further, I also own two brands, VA Foodie, and my coaching and consulting business. That is a lot of roles to manage and like many of you, some of those roles are louder and demanding than others. We all struggle with a constant issue of operations getting in the way of marketing.
[00:01:02] Georgiana Dearing: By operations, I mean the day-to-day running of a business or a department, or even your primary job description within that good food. And at the first of the year in episode 70, I shared goal setting tips and described 10 mistakes you may be making when you think you're setting goals for yourself and for your business.
[00:01:23] Georgiana Dearing: And straight up a confession here. Most of the information I share stems from mistakes that I've made in my work and the lessons that I learned to avoid making them again. Goal setting is another area where I had become decidedly rusty regarding my own practice. So this January I spent several working sessions across two weeks writing and then rewriting my goals for the coming 12 months.
[00:01:49] Georgiana Dearing: Anne Hanley tells us that good writing comes from good editing, and much of her work revolves around eliminating fluff and pairing down your language in order to make the greatest impact with the fewest words possible. In my goal setting sessions, I found the opposite to be true with each pass I made at a particular goal, I rephrased it until I had a very specific, actionable and measurable statement, and many times that meant adding words to that very first short sentence. Like grow my sales, right? I had to add language to define what that meant, but then in my last editing round, I edited each goal worksheet until the language was succinct and to the point.
[00:02:36] Georgiana Dearing: Now, two years ago, I had 10 goals in my plan, and almost all of them were too broad and not quite as measurable as I'd originally thought they were With every quarterly review, I found myself adjusting my goals from describing completed tasks turning them to habit goals of allocating time to each area of my business, working towards the next iteration of what my company would be.
[00:03:02] Georgiana Dearing: But this year I have seven very specific goals, and they are clear and well defined I want to say here that I don't consider the adjustments that I've made to my goals over time to be a failure because each time I reviewed my plan, I was able to refine my intentions.
[00:03:23] Georgiana Dearing: The beauty of setting goals for yourself, smarter goals, that is. Is that you'll still make progress, especially if you're checking in on your strategic plan regularly. Sometimes the progress you are tracking is reflected as refinement, and that's okay. This year's goal setting work was the most comprehensive that I've ever done. I took to heart some advice from a former guest, Sandra Velazquez of Nopalera. During our interview, kept saying that you should begin with the end in mind. Sandra is very deliberate about the direction she's taking her business and she just gave a stellar presentation on Shark Tank and turned all the offers down cold when they didn't meet her needs. you can learn more about Sandra and her company, Nopalera in my interview with her in episode 55. So with Sandra's sound advice echoing in my ears this year, I was very deliberate about naming an overall income goal and defining the revenue streams to help me get there.
[00:04:33] Georgiana Dearing: And for each revenue stream, I created a target quantity or dollar amount that I need to hit to hit reach my total target. And you should do the same for your business. Even if you're in a solopreneur, write down the salary you want to earn and then turn that figure into the number of units you need to sell to make your dream salary into reality. And there are the seeds for setting your sales and production goals.
[00:05:02] Georgiana Dearing: Now that we've worked through all of our sales goals, we need an action plan to help us hit those unit sales that will fund those salaries. It is lovely to have a mission-based business, but not one of us should be so altruistic that we will do all of this work for free or low pay. We have to eat good food, too. So for today's tip, I'm gonna share the next steps to take to create your annual marketing plan. There are five steps I use every year to outline the marketing activity for my brands and my clients' brands.
[00:05:34] Georgiana Dearing: Step number one, create a marketing calendar. I literally mean create a real calendar of all the marketing events you'll participate in during the coming 12 months. Include sales campaigns and promotional periods, too. Anything you regularly do or are committed to, or that you plan to commit to in the coming year, like the Fancy Foods Show, for instance, put that on the calendar.
[00:06:01] Georgiana Dearing: Step number two, block in your marketing tactics. You want to schedule in your existing tactics, like emails, blog posts, mailers, et cetera. If you write a newsletter, commit to a consistent week each month to send it, if you share recipes, even if you can only manage to write and photograph two this year, put both of them on your calendar schedule when these tactics are going to. step three, set your brand holidays. It may sound elementary, but take a moment to pick the holidays. You will observe and add them to the marketing calendar.
[00:06:41] Now I use a Google calendar for my marketing activity, and I literally copy the US holidays over to my marketing calendar. I keep the marketing calendar hidden until I'm working my plan, and and then I said it. So that marketing is the only calendar showing.
[00:06:58] Georgiana Dearing: So when you're making these marketing holidays, you want to be sure to include the ones that are relevant to your brand and then also look further afield to those marketing events that happen out in the social stratosphere, like National Pasta Month. If you're selling pasta, you should at least. Put National Pasta Month on your marketing calendar, whether you intend to do something that month or not.
[00:07:24] Georgiana Dearing: It's there to remind you that that's an opportunity for you to create content. You want to end up with a list of holidays that are meaningful to your brand and not the ones that are out there being celebrated by everyone in the universe. And after that calendar work is completed, there's another step and that's transferring all of those dates over to a written document.
[00:07:48] Georgiana Dearing: It is very important to have a live calendar tool. The calendars are passive reference tools that you have to sort of go to to get the information. Moving your schedule into a written form is the actual plan you're gonna use to guide your projects, and there are two more steps to turning those dates into an actionable plan.
[00:08:08] Georgiana Dearing: Step four is to create content themes. Once you have your list of events and dates, Define some content themes for each month add them to that plan. These would be topical themes, and some of them are easy, like Christmas or back to school, but take a moment and be thoughtful about these content themes.
[00:08:30] Georgiana Dearing: You select the events, the tactics, the holidays you did, and the first three steps can inform the true theme of your content for each month. You don't have to narrow down to a specific topic that you're gonna write that month, but include the something thematic on every calendar month. I'm gonna give you an example in our area, the first weekend in May is the Apple Blossom Festival.
[00:08:54] Georgiana Dearing: Many of the companies in our region participate by sponsoring events and parties or maybe the 10 K race that draws runners from across the whole. That event is something that impacts the marketing budget, and those dollars need to be included in the budget and the strategic plan. Our event might seem hyper local, but actively including it in a brand's plan means that even a race sponsorship can be positioned as strategic communication opportunity.
[00:09:24] Georgiana Dearing: even if all you do one year is capture images of racers chugging your healthy beverage at the finish line, it should be part of your action plan for the entire year. In step number five, the last item in my checklist for creating an annual marketing plan is define your content buckets. Content buckets are the underpinnings of your brand messaging, and for good food brands you have four natural buckets to start with. Your mission, your products, your products in use, and your community.
[00:10:00] Georgiana Dearing: There's a lot more to explore with content buckets, but if the only thing you do when creating your plan is to write down your mission product, in use and community, you're in good shape because those bucket titles are a reminder to you when you sit down each month to execute your plan.
[00:10:19] Georgiana Dearing: So now that you've created your annual marketing plan, you can transfer that information into shorter lists for each month. Breaking your actions into smaller parts is a crucial step in calming the overwhelm of marketing your good food brand. And the next calming activity is to make your marketing an important part of your business by scheduling time to focus on it.
[00:10:41] Georgiana Dearing: Make a date with yourself to pull out that monthly list in the prior month, of course, and create an action plan to keep that steady stream of activity that will drive new customers to your. brand And here's a bonus item. That monthly task list combined with your content buckets has provided you with a list of topics for captions and photo direction for any social media platform that you're using to promote your brand.
[00:11:10] Georgiana Dearing: If you're already in the Marketing Made Easy group, there's a video on this exact topic. But if you just want a taste of this scheduling tool, look for a new bite-sized version of the planning process. And my quick start social media calendar. You can pre-order this mini lesson on my website. And this brings me to the final topic of the day, some exciting changes that are coming for me, the Virginia Foodie, and all of my good food marketing advice. I am in the process of building out courses for my good food marketing platform that can be purchased by individual topic. Many you've already heard of The Marketing Made Easy for Food Brands Coaching Group, and I will still be offering that product because it is the easiest way for me to reach the most people.
[00:11:58] my coaching group gives members access to recorded training tips, downloadable worksheets, Google Docs to edit or download, and most some access to. I reserved a block of time the third Monday afternoon to take your questions in quick half hour phone calls. And this year I've added a short block of time on early Tuesday mornings to accommodate the growing demand from my coaching group membership at $490 a year.
[00:12:26] Georgiana Dearing: It's one of the best deals available for professional marketing guidance. My quick Start social media module is a part of the new learning platform that I am developing. I've learned that it is hard for many small food businesses to fund one-to-one coaching. Cashflow is a legitimate obstacle, and it's even harder to commit specific times to participate in live discussions all year.
[00:12:52] Georgiana Dearing: with that in mind, I'm in the process of packaging all my training materials into smaller single topic modules that you can use to tackle a specific marketing issue. I have three slated for completion this year, plus a few, many modules that will crop up. I will be opening them for pre-registration as each training topic nears completion.
[00:13:13] Georgiana Dearing: And one of the benefits of the Gated online platform is that it's an easier place to find my training videos, tips, and downloads. now, my content is spread across YouTube, my website, and a private Facebook group. But good food marketing will house all the information in one place.
[00:13:31] Wow, that's a lot of information, wasn't it? But let's do a little recap. We covered goal setting and I shared my journey of documenting my goals and how they've evolved over time.
[00:13:41] Georgiana Dearing: Goal setting is the best way to focus your business, and it produces real results. Then today's actionable tip was about creating your annual marketing plan. The five steps I outlined are create a marketing calendar block in your tactics, set your brand holidays, create content themes, and finally define your content buckets. That annual marketing plan can now be broken down to monthly task lists paired with a regularly scheduled commitment to working your plan. The chaos of marketing management will begin to calm down. Lastly, there's a mini module you can purchase that walks you through this process complete with downloadable PDFs and digital tools for you to keep and modify for your own plan.
[00:14:27] Georgiana Dearing: You can pre-order it on the Virginia foodie.com. It's your first taste of the new good food marketing training platform that I'm developing this year. I am so excited about this new adventure because it promises to benefit. I've learned so much from the good food brands I've helped so far, and I am forever grateful to each of you who has demonstrated your trust by sharing your struggles and successes with me.
[00:14:52] Georgiana Dearing: I've been listening to all of you, even when you're telling me your problem without telling me your problem. So please, let's keep those conversations.
[00:15:01] Georgiana Dearing: And to keep my conversations going. You can do the easiest, least expensive thing to show your love for a small brand, and that's to hit that like subscribe and share button. Spreading the word is a powerful way to support small business. And that my friends, is a wrap on this marketing Monday.