One of the tasks I've struggled with since starting my business has been developing products for the season in a timely fashion. Fortunately, I'm small enough and have suppliers close to me, and I can be nimble in creating new products within a few days. And since a lot of sales come from my Etsy site, and since I refer a lot of local buyers to my Etsy site for a complete product listing, I haven't been adversely affected by this tremendously.
Until I'm ready to prospect into retail. Just in time production works fine, until I try to promote my products to retailers....I suddenly realize that marketing Valentine products today is useless, as many retailers already have seasonal displays established or at least have their seasonal products purchased.
So I knew I had to establish a marketing calender. But it couldn't be just a marketing calender, as it's easy to highlight holidays on a planner or electronic device. I needed to establish a marketing and production calender.
I started with a basic Excel worksheet, labeling the left column with the months of the year and the planning schedule at the top. For my column headers, I chose "Marketing Trends", "Product Marketing", and "Product Testing."
Completing the Marketing Trends column was easy,
January - New Year
February - Valentine's Day
March - Easter
and so on. Next, I needed to complete the Product Marketing column. So, for my established customers, newsletter, and Etsy shop, the Product Marketing column looks something like this:
January - Valentine's Day; weddings
February - Valentine's Day; Easter
March - Easter; spring
and so on. Next was the Product Testing column. Here, most everything backs up another month:
December - Valentine's Day; weddings
January - Easter; Spring
and so on. What this will do is help me integrate my supply purchases into other orders and help to save on shipping costs. I can work test pours into my customer pouring schedule. And if I order early enough, I have plenty of wiggle room if something isn't right, and I can integrate the successful fragrances into other supply orders, as well as watch for sales!
The final calendar looks like this:
This hasn't quite solved my problem of marketing to prospective retail vendors, but it does help me establish a calender through which I can anticipate their marketing plans. All I have to do is add a column for when the stores would set up their retail displays, another column to anticipate when they will place their product orders, and integrate that into my testing and marketing calendar!
Do you have any planning and marketing strategies you can share?