One useful definition of marketing is that it consists of the programmed usage of all the forms of communications that contribute to the development of brand identity in the consumer’s mind. This definition encourages us to think of everything from advertising, to email, to newsletters, web sites, social media activities, press relations, tastings, and tasting room experience separately, and to calculate and plan how each of them contribute to the brand image we wish to portray.
When marketers at small wineries list all of the forms of communication available and compare that to the resources of time and money available to work on them, the task seems daunting. It’s hard enough to get the quarterly newsletter out, much less be effective with all these other channels. Which is why planning your marketing program is so important.
This is the right time of year to review—or develop—your marketing activity plan or marketing calendar for 2009. The idea is to systematically review all of the forms of communication that you engage in (or should be engaging in) and determine which you will work on and when. Remember, you can’t do it all, but you can do a few things well. If you focus on a few activities, do them well and repeat them consistently over time, you’ll get a lot more benefit than by taking an unplanned, scatter shot approach.
Bromide alert: You’ve heard these before, but they’re true:
If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail.
Plan the work, work the plan.
I’ve prepared a very simple Excel spreadsheet that can help you begin the planning process. It lists many of the communication activities/channels you might consider down one axis, and months of the year across the other. You can begin by placing a check mark in the month column corresponding to the activities you know you’re going to do. You can add activities, of course, and add activity details as I’ve done under the Restaurant Visits item by listing Restaurant 1 and Restaurant 2. When you’ve got all the activities on the table, begin to enter dates. These can be start dates or do-by dates; it’s your plan, make it work for you. The idea, though, is to be real about what you can actually accomplish given the amount of work you have to do. Let me repeat, you can’t do everything, it’s a lot better to do a few things well.
Whether you use my spreadsheet, build upon your plan from last year, or use some other system entirely, the goal is to end up with a clear, actionable plan that you and the other stakeholders at your small winery can refer to and all know for certain what marketing activities you are going to engage in, when.