The K-12 Marketing Calendar: Month by Month
We’re fast approaching the end of the school year. And that’s the perfect time to organize and prepare for the coming school year, our next cycle. First comes determining strategic objectives. And that’s closely followed by tactics to support those strategies. So get ready to create your K-12 marketing calendar for the 2015-16 school year.
Every organization’s calendar is obviously going to reflect their specific objectives and strategies, and therefore be different. But there will be similarities since we all have to take into account the ebb and flow of K-12 education.
So here’s what most marketers do month-to-month from June through May.
June. Plan it forward.
Create your strategic marketing plan for the complete school year.
You won’t do much outbound this month, so keep communicating via social, blogs, and whatever content channels you use. Be aggressive with inbound. Create a ton of great content for use throughout the year.
July. Get tactical.
Consider strategic objectives and use them to develop tactics. Create a complete tactical marketing calendar that defines precisely what you’ll do, and when you’ll do it. Stay aggressive with inbound and your content marketing.
August. Start the ball rolling.
August is the launch month for outbound. But proceed with caution: don’t go overboard or you’ll get lost in the muddled confusion of back-to-school.
September. Game on.
With school now in full swing nationwide, you’re in deep contact mode. For most of us, we’re seeding the market for next summer’s purchase orders. What that means for the fall is it’s time to do high-level branding to drive awareness, interest, and understanding of your brand and your offerings
October. Under pressure.
I consider October a pivotal month for marketers in the K-12 space. Educators in districts and at school sites can finally take a (very slight) breath following the tumult of the start of the school year. Push your outbound messages as hard as you can to all levels, both top and bottom, and be as active and as visible as possible to the marketplace. Because right around the corner is….
November. Holiday Hell.
This isn’t a statement about Thanksgiving drama. It’s about the difficulty we have during holiday season to gain the attention of educators. Work the beginning of the month aggressively. For many of us, this is last call for awareness building. Then slow down the outbound mid-month. Keep inbound marketing strong during weeks 3 and 4.
This is a tough month to do business in K-12, so keep the outbound marketing somewhat lean. Work weeks 1 and 2, and then slow it down for the rest of December. Make sure that you ratchet up the inbound.
January. Sell, sell, sell.
And we’re back in the game. January is the kickoff month for moving from fall awareness-building to consideration for purchase. If it’s relevant to your product, get educators in trials; give more demos and product-specific webinars; make sure your sales group has access to the database of leads that were taken during the fall months. Now’s the month to be aggressive, so make the right kind of noise in the marketplace.
February. Keep the heat on.
It might be cold outside, but marketers still need to be full-throttle with their efforts. Focus on outbound and use all of your channels to maximum benefit. Keep inbound strong, but outbound is key right now. If summer school is included in your market, then decisions are soon to be made, so be pushy there.
March. Closing in.
In many districts, the decision-making process for the next cycle has begun. Don’t slack off with either outbound or inbound if you want to keep the sales funnel strong. This is the last aggressive month you’ve got this school year so make it count.
April. Spring back?
While the saying is spring forward, April is the month that things begin to slow….at least for outbound. Reason is that it’s beginning to become late to influence summer purchases. Your most active months are behind you, and if things worked as planned then the orders pipeline is in great shape. But as outbound slows, make sure your inbound efforts stay strong.
May. The year in review.
As you pull back on activities, May’s a great time to assess what went right – and what went not so right – during the past school year. Some common problems: lack of planning; rigid adherence to a plan that isn’t performing as expected; not enough bandwidth to execute as needed; operational process issues that hindered success; messaging that didn’t reflect need; and there’s a lot more. The process will soon begin again, hopefully with fresh insight to make your overall efforts even more successful.
As a final take-away, I think the most important item I can add is that I’ve found the most harmful thing for a marketing program is lethargy. Frankly, I find it better to do something slightly off than do nothing at all, or the same-old-same- old with meager results. Don’t be afraid to make a few mistakes, or try something new. Make a lot of positive noise in the marketplace. K-12 isn’t an easy market, and there are significant competitive pressures regardless of your product or service.
As always, happy marketing.
More on timing the K-12 marketplace: