In 2011 failing to plan your promotional calendar is planning to fail!

I’m betting that by now you have heard this phrase quite a few times. I don’t like to repeat but the fact is, a little planning can go a long way – especially in an industry where it’s important to be on the tip of the latest trends. Now is the perfect time to plan out the next 12 months and detox your business and marketing approach. You’ll feel a lot better to be a head of the game – and the good part is it really doesn’t have to be that time consuming.

You know your budget and have defined your goals. Your next task will be to look at where your advertisements and/or promotions will have the best traction so here’s how to plan out your strategies.

One of your most valuable assets: the Calendar

A great place to start is following the structure of the seasons. This will allow you to build your promotions around the natural flow of the year – giving you plenty of time to plan ahead and maximise the impact of those big events such as Valentines Day and Mothers Day. Treat this basic structure as your core – and once in place you will begin to see obvious gaps in the calendar. Here, you could build in one-off offers that work for you; such as encouraging the sale of a product which normally would struggle at that time of year. Open house events or parties are also a great way to boost and re fresh your salons interest so be adventurous and pop a few dates in the calendar for those too (keep a look out for my blog on Events). Remember it is always good to have somewhere to record all those ideas that pop into your head.

Here’s an example of how you could be maximising seasonal promotions;

‘Tis the season

The busy December is over and if you did things right back then (promoting your gift voucher service), you’re likely to have a healthy footfall this January. At this time of year number of your customers will be armed with gift vouchers; including your new customers (make sure you grab all their details), ones that may have not visited you in a while and of course your regulars.  Taking advantage of the ‘sale’ season to promote new products and services is the perfect way to impress new customers as well as inspiring your loyal ones to take the plunge and try out new treatments. I like to think of January as the season of ‘change’ where a lot of consumers are looking to detox their lives and try something new – I’m talking about giving your customers some excuses to stick to their New Year resolutions.

So how do your customers ‘get the message’?

With your customer base becoming ever savvier and having access to more information then ever before – for you it has become vital to take your business to new communication heights. So this year make sure you take a look at all the options open to you. Don’t be afraid to sign up to Facebook or Twitter, dabble in Foursqure or send out a few promotional SMS (I will be blogging in further detail about these opportunities). If utilised correctly, these practices can provide a high return on your investment, costing only a small amount of time each day.

Set-out the various channels of communication you have access to and pencil in what you think the best route/s to take for each specific promotion. Another tip is that; combining your more traditional offline marketing with online communication can work well to ensure you reach all types of customers within a certain demographic. Not to mention showing the customer an all new personable side to your business – and putting it on the social map.

Whatever you do – monitor what you do!

I have already mentioned the importance of tracking what sells. Now I’m looking at maximising the impact and efficiency of your marketing strategy.

It sounds complicated but really, it’s not that bad. If you take the time to put a good system in place you can easily record the source of a purchase or visit to your salon. You might think I’m biased but the best way that you can do this is using management software – where can record and store all the data making it easily accessible and effortless to evaluate. With things such as promotional codes or premier’s gift voucher tracking service.

By doing this you will save a lot of time, effort and money in the future. Keeping a close eye on the campaigns you decide to run you will know exactly what works and what doesn’t. If people respond well to a certain SMS campaign or offer then you can shape other promotions around this and repeat it later on in the year! Go with what works!