Almost anyone would agree that a marketing plan is essential to success in business, yet few small businesses actually have a detailed, focused, documented marketing plan.
Due to working “in” the business instead of “on” the business, marketing becomes an afterthought. Marketing is usually reactive when it should be proactive. A carefully thought out marketing plan will help ensure you reach your goals.
The term “marketing plan” may sound intimidating or like a dry textbook process that doesn’t mean much, but along with a business plan, the marketing plan is a living document that leads you in implementing your marketing. Your marketing plan doesn’t need to be complicated – after all it’s not a multi-million dollar “dot com” launch!
Your simple marketing plan should at least include nine items, the first of which we will look at this week:
Step 1: Your Marketing Goals
Your goal or objective has to do with where you want your business to be. List the specific sales dollars you are shooting for each month. I am amazed how many business owners don’t have a sales goal for the month.
Some don’t even know what they did last month. You cannot hit a target that you cannot see! Basically, ask yourself where you want your company to be in a certain time period. Of course this will require you to do a little tracking to find out where you have been. Most business owners don’t slow down long enough to find out where they are and that is a huge, very costly mistake!
How can you know how to get somewhere if you don’t know where you are? I remember talking to a business owners some years ago. He said that he didn’t want to know what his “numbers” were. When I asked why, he said, “I might get depressed.”
I howled! So I said, “If you had cancer, would you want to know?”
“Of course!” he replied, reasoning that, “If I have money in the bank, everything is okay.”
If you operate on a cash basis, have no debt and are happy with your lifestyle, then that’s fine. Let’s go fishing. But, if you have debt; if you are having trouble paying your bills; if you want to get off operating in the business; if you want to get ahead and if you want to have something that you don’t have today, goals will help you get there.
In your marketing plan, you may want to include other goals such as number of jobs completed, products sold customers services etc. Each month, outline what your total sales should be. If you have a staff, share this with them and track it daily.
Outline the goal in detail. Take into account how much business will be repeat, how much in referrals, and how much in new business you get from advertising or paid sources. Next, list how much business will be done in each service/product category. Again, the best way to get this information is to look at last year. If you did not track it, try to reconstruct the best you can. I promise it will be worth the time and effort.
When you feel a little fuzzy or nervous, just go back to your goals and compare to last year. My goal is to always be ahead of last year. Compare this month to the same month last year. Compare your sales to date to the same period last year. Of course, expenses come into the picture later on, but for now, compare the sales. If you are up, great! If not, you can see whether you are down across the board or just in a certain area.
Example: sales are down and you see that your new business is down. This shows you where to focus.
I was coaching a guy recently, and he was down about $30,000 for the year. If this happens and you don’t know where to focus, you will implement the wrong thing. Or worse, you will yank something that’s working because it “costs money.”
We found that one of his services was down by $20,000. We also found his repeat business was down the most. The message? We need to do a better job marketing and servicing and wowing his repeat clients. Turns out that he had stopped sending “Thank You” letters. Yikes!
Your goals drive the rest of the marketing plan, and are therefore the most important step in any plan. Here are a couple of acronyms for setting goals:
Specific. Your goals must be specific numbers.
Measurable. If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it!
Attainable. No matter how much I try, I will not be an NBA star!
Relative. Don’t set “left field” goals.
Timeframe. Have a “due” date for your goals
Goals. Without clearly defined goals you won’t know where you are going
Organization. Organize your goals into the HIGHEST PRIORITY
Action. Take massive action even when you don’t feel like it!
Learning. Repeat your successes and eliminate what isn’t working
Systemize. Put what works into a daily, weekly, monthly system
!nspiration. The reason most business owners don’t implement is because they are not excited about their future. You dread the day. You are focusing on what won’t work, why it won’t work, what didn’t work, and strangely enough not “why” it didn’t work, and “why” you are doing this to start with.
Remember, the only reason your business exists is to help you achieve your L.I.F.E. goals (Living in Freedom Every Day). Your business fuels your life goals. So, you need to have personal goals. You need to have business goals that are relative to your life goals. Design your business to meet those goals.
When you begin to see the possibilities through goal setting, and you begin to see what is possible for your life, you will begin to be inspired again. Don’t wait for inspiration to begin implementing, but if you are inspired you will implement with ease.