I am notoriously bad at planning. Whenever someone asks what I’m doing this weekend I turn to my wife and ask the exact same question. She’s the planner in our family and that’s one reason why we’re married. She loves to plan and I love to tag along :)
Of course, tagging along is no way to run a successful business. Regardless of how much I hate planning, I still force myself to go through the process each month. It’s painful, and I kick and scream the whole way through it, but it’s always rewarding. It’s a similar process to working out or changing your diet to lose weight. Not usually a fun experience, but if you stick with it and grind it out, you’ll reap the benefits.
3 Simple Questions to Answer Right Now
Now let’s talk about your marketing plan and answer 3 simple, yet extremely important questions. Hint: Your wife probably doesn’t know these answers.. :)
First, do you have one? Do you have a plan documented that lists in order of priority the tactics you will implement over the next 6 – 12 month? If you’re answer is no, then don’t worry, you’re not alone, and there is plenty of time left in the year to create and execute a solid plan.
Second, when was the last time you looked at it? We’re at the midway point in 2015 so if you haven’t looked at your plan all year, then now is the time to dust it off and see if you’re still on track. Chances are good if you’re not reviewing your plan monthly, then you’ve veered off course by now and it’s time to right the ship.
Third, when was it last updated? Even the absolute best marketing plan should never be carved into stone. That’s because the best marketing plan is only “the best” at one single point in time. As you execute your plan your situation will inevitably change, hypotheses will be proven wrong, and external forces like competition will need to be addressed. As General Sun Tzu famously said, “Those who are victorious plan effectively and change decisively.”
Why Do You Need a Marketing Plan?
Not too long ago, back when I would flip through my 5-pound YellowPages book to order a pizza, there were only a handful of marketing options available for small business owners. But I’m sorry to say those simpler days are over!
Now we have the world of online marketing and the number of marketing tactics seem to be growing by the minute. There’s search engine optimization (SEO), Google AdWords advertising, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, blogging, email autoresponders, email broadcasts, SMS mobile messages, podcasts, YouTube, mobile apps, webinars, Pinterest, Yelp, Google+ Local, Bing Local, and the list goes on and on and on…
It’s literally a full time job to keep up with everything going on with internet marketing. I know because that’s my job. :)
That brings me to the first key point in this post. You need a marketing plan to know what to do in your current situation. Where should you focus your time and attention right now? Just because your friend Dennis the Dentist is investing in SEO doesn’t mean that’s the best strategy for your business. Activity does not necessarily lead to more sales. The right activity does.
OK, that’s all well and good, but maybe you already know some things are important to do in your business. Take follow-up for example. Everyone knows the importance of follow-up, yet a lot of businesses do not have an effective system in place to collect contact information from prospects and nurture them via follow-up. So knowing what to do is only half the battle.
The other half is knowing how to do it. Your marketing plan should not only tell you which tactics are important for you right now, but also how to implement them — and who should implement them. Some tasks in your plan should be completed in-house, while others should be outsourced to a service provider.
Eliminate Options to Stay Focused
The beauty of your marketing plan is that it eliminates options. Options are the enemy of effective marketing because whenever we’re faced with too many options it’s human nature to default to the status quo (aka do nothing). During any given day you may come across 3 to 5 different very cool marketing tactics. Maybe you read about a business using display advertising effectively or you listen to a podcast and wonder if that’s a good opportunity for you. The tactics themselves are probably effective given the right situation. However, they may not be right for your business at this very moment.
So as we enter the 2nd half of 2015, I urge you to dust off the marketing plan you (hopefully) wrote 6 months ago. Next, assess your current situation and your goals for the next six months. Finally, write down what you need to do, how to do it, and then stay focused on executing your plan!
Want My Help Creating An Effective Marketing Plan?
I put together a special package to help you create an effective plan to get more traffic, leads and customers. This package includes a step-by-step guide, video training, and a 1-on-1 call where I’ll personally help you create your plan.