Your marketing plan will never have a big impact on your business unless you actually use your plan.
I know that sounds ridiculously obvious, but it’s counter to our natural tendency to “hit and move on.” To prove this point, have you honestly reviewed your marketing plan since you created it?
Don’t worry if you answered no to that last question. You’re certainly not alone!
As mentioned above, actively using your plan is counter to what we all learned in school. Through years of elementary school, high school, and even college, we’ve been programmed to never review our plans…
Why We’re Programmed to Never Review Our Plans
In school, when we would write papers and hand in reports, they are done. If you were like me, then you never read that paper or report again. The teacher read it, gave you a grade, and you moved on to the next assignment.
Hit and move on…
That was the process for me in every single grade, including college.
Because of that “training” for about 16+ years, we all tend to approach our marketing plan document the same way. We go through the grueling process to write the plan, maybe pull an all-nighter or two to hit our self-inflicted deadline, and then we mark that task complete.
What happens next?
The plan most likely sits on your desk, in a filing cabinet, or in a folder on your computer until half the year or maybe even the entire year has gone by.
Again, this is no different from all those papers you wrote in school and never read again. It was a good exercise to hone your writing skills, but a lousy way to execute and improve your marketing.
Here’s how to fix this bad habit…
Your Marketing Plan Is a Training Program (Not a Report)
The solution to this problem is quite simple: don’t think of your marketing plan as a document or a report. If you do, then you’ll naturally struggle to go back and review the plan throughout the year.
Remember, our brains have been programmed from school to believe reports don’t need to be reviewed after they are completed.
Instead, think of your marketing plan like a training program.
More specifically, I like to think of my plan like a marathon training program. That works for me since I’m a runner, but the same concept applies to any training program so pick whatever makes sense for you.
This simple mindset shift can have an amazing impact on how much you achieve month after month and year after year.
Here are 3 reasons why…
1. You Must Continually Review Training Programs
If you have ever followed a training program, then you know that you have to continually review the plan to see what you are supposed to do each day, week, and month.
Personally, I find it’s easiest to print the program and hang it on my refrigerator so that I can quickly see when and what my workout is going to be for the week. I know if I just stick to the plan, slowly increase my mileage from 3-mile runs to a 20-mile long run, then I’ll be physically ready for the marathon.
I doubt many people reading this have their marketing plan hanging on their refrigerator. :)
But if you did have your plan more visible, then you would know what you need to do each day, week, and month to hit your goals. In other words, you would stay more focused and ignore distractions that are not integral to the plan you already set.
That brings us to the 2nd key benefit of this mindset shift…
2. Training Programs Have Clearly Defined & Attainable Milestones
When I was training for my first marathon, I had a real fear that I wasn’t going to finish. I’m sure just about every first-timer has that same fear. 26.2 miles sounds impossible unless you’ve done it before.
However, the beauty of a marathon training program is how it makes each milestone mentally attainable. Each week progressively increases the long runs, but only by a mile or two. Therefore, by the time you need to run 10 miles, which sounds far for most people, you will have already run an 8 miler. So it’s only 2 more miles, which is mentally easier to digest.
That’s the key. If you don’t truly believe you can hit a certain milestone, then you are not likely to put forth the effort to come close.
This same concept applies to your marketing plan. Your plan must list incremental, mentally (aka realistically) attainable, milestones that lead up to your ultimate goal.
And there’s one more benefit to this mindset shift…
3. Training Programs Are Created By Experts
Would you trust a marathon training program that was created by someone who never ran or coached an athlete to run a marathon?
I definitely would not.
The point is, unless you’re trying to break a world record, someone has already done what you’re trying to achieve. All you need to do is find and follow that same training program. I’m not implying it’ll be easy. It’ll certainly be hard, but at least you’ll be following a proven training program developed by an expert who has achieved what you’re trying to achieve.
The same approach should be taken with your marketing plan.
There are no extra points for creating your plan completely on your own. In fact, there is no benefit at all to planning without expert advice.
Find business owners and consultants who have already hit your goals. Then follow a similar training program. It won’t be easy, but you’ll have the confidence you’re on the right track!
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