Why sticky notes are the best resource for small business marketing
If you know me, you know I love stationery, especially sticky notes. I was a big fan long before I started my own business. I’d worked in marketing roles previously, so was familiar with planning. But, working for myself and on my own, I needed a system that not only helped me get organised but allowed me to be creative too.
That’s where sticky notes came in. I could play around with ideas and themes for my marketing and start to plan out my content. With very few resources at my fingertips, such as projectors or flip charts, sticky notes quickly became my favourite way of plotting out my marketing. Before I get on to how I do it, below are the three things I mostly use this method for. See how it works for you too!
Create your blogging plan
Have you tried to plan out your blog posts and failed? This is the number one reason why small businesses don’t blog regularly. They have great intentions and lots to write about. But they don’t plan out their topics, so when it comes to writing a blog post, it’s just too hard.
Why? Because instead of getting down to the business of writing the post, they spend lots of time thinking up topics they can write about. Then something comes up or some paid work needs doing, and the blog post gets put to one side. Sound familiar?
Work out what goes in your email newsletters
I send out a weekly and a monthly newsletter. The monthly one is actually pretty easy to put together. It’s a digest of what’s gone on the month before. But the weekly newsletter takes a bit of planning. There’s that word again… planning.
As with blogging, if you know up front what you’re going to write about, the actual writing becomes so much easier.
Post more consistently on social media
How many social networks do you actively use for your business? I expect it’s two or more. I use 4 social networks and I know that it takes me a while to figure out what to post on each one. You see, I never post exactly the same thing at the same time because then there’s no incentive for you to follow me on each of them. In fact, if you add my new Facebook Group, that’s 5 networks I need to keep on top of. Not to mention any client social networks.
Plotting out what to post on which network and when gives me a consistent flow of content that serves my audience, without boring them. It also helps me free up some time to interact, to be social, in real time.
So, now you know the three things I use sticky notes for, you’re ready to learn how I do ALL my marketing content planning with sticky notes. Below is the method I came up within the first couple of months of starting my business.
1. Get your tools and clear the decks
I know you’re busy running your business but creating your content calendar will save you time in the long run. So, block out a few hours (it took me three from start to finish.) Now grab your tools. You’ll need:
- A large surface (I used a wall in my kitchen.)
- Your laptop (but don’t get distracted, it’s for research purposes only!)
- Post-Its (or sticky notes) in at least three different colours.
- A Sharpie or similar.
Now you’ve got all your tools, you’re ready to get planning, and the fun can start.
2. What’s coming up?
Here’s the thing. There is a lot you can write about if you know what’s coming up, not only in your business, but generally too. The first thing you need to do is write each month on a Post-It and stick them on the wall.
Using the same coloured Post-Its, you’re now ready to get down days in each month you should be aware of. There are lots of websites out there that you can use to figure out notable dates you should be aware of, i.e. World Health Day, World Water Day or National Skipping Day.
Of course, you can get started writing – a day on one Post-It – and put it under the corresponding month. Also, add the day of the month, so you can remember that too. Make sure you add your slow and busy periods as well. Here’s the first one I ever did (when I worked out this method.)
3. Theme it
Now you’re ready to move on to another Post-It colour. It’s time to attach a theme to each month. This will help you find and group content to focus on what you want your business emphasis to be each month.
To help you find the themes, think about what would be useful for your readers. How can you write content that benefits their business? Making the themes relevant to what you want to write about, and to what your readers want to read about makes for successful content.
You won’t get each monthly theme right first time. But that’s OK – the reason you’re using Post-Its is to help you move things around and change what doesn’t work before you finalise it all.
Here are some of the themes I used (feel free to steal them):
- Why summer is great for your business (slow period)
- Going for gold in your business (Olympics start)
- Failing to plan is planning to fail (planning for next year)
4. What will you write about?
So, now you have your monthly themes, it’s time to figure out what you’ll write about. Yes, you have to write. It’s great for your website, it gets you seen in search results on Google and it shows you’re an expert. Have I convinced you? Good. Here’s how you’re going to get your topics.
First, decide how often you’ll write a blog post. When I started off, I decided to write two a month. If you feel you want to write more or less frequently that’s fine. Just don’t make it less than one a month!
Now, grab the third colour of Post-Its. These will be your blog post topics. How you decide on the topics is up to you. I had already started keeping a list of topics I wanted to write about. So, I went through this list first and looked at what fitted with the themes I’d chosen. Once I’d exhausted that list, I let my imagination do the work. You can also look at things like frequent questions you get asked or featuring your best customers. It’s really up to you.
Finally, I ended up with my content calendar, and here’s what it looked like.
I have notable days each month (blue), I have a theme for each month (green), and I have two blog post topics for each month (pink.) Whilst I may not use those exact titles for the posts (I normally decide on the title once I’ve written the post), I know exactly what I’m going to write about each month.
4. Pull it all together
The final thing you need to do it get it down on paper. You can’t keep the Post-Its on your wall. Well, you could, but it isn’t very practical!
I took my time about how I wanted to do this and ended up with this:
I write weekly newsletters, so you can see how I plotted out the month. I have notable dates (great for sharing on social media), the subjects of my two blog posts and what my newsletter content will be on a weekly basis.
And, hey presto, you have your content calendar for a whole year, with content for your blog, social media networks, and your newsletter.
I still use this method to plan my content, but now use a diary (one like my friend Kathy Ennis has created) to pull everything together. It’s all in one place and sits on my desk. Whether I need to write a blog post, a newsletter or post on social media, the what is in the diary and I just get on and do it!
I hope you have as much fun planning your content calendar as I did. If you’d like my blog post planning template, just fill in your details below!
Also published on Medium.