We all recognize the importance of having a business plan (even if we haven’t yet done one), but do you recognize the value of a good marketing plan? While most marketing plans take up a few pages of the standard business plan, I recommend you take the time to create a dynamic marketing plan if you really want to kick your business into high gear. A good dynamic marketing plan is one that you review weekly, monthly and quarterly.
A truly dynamic marketing plan contains goals, objectives, action items and it both changes and grows with your business. The next few issues of “Effective Entrepreneur” will be dedicated to marketing plans and the steps necessary for creating a realistic and valuable tool.
Let’s start with the basics: Determine your goals.
Good goals are SMART:
They also have a “reason”, are consistent with each other and have some type of price tag as outlined below.
Identify what you want to accomplish: Do you want to create a website? Increase your website traffic? Get more clients? Sell more widgets? What is it that you want to do or get from completion of your goals?
Your goals must be Specific, Measurable and in writing. Define as specifically as possible, what it is that you want to have, get or accomplish then write it down so you can refer to it throughout the process…it’s okay that your goal(s) may change as you complete the task, just write it down to imprint on your brain what you are working toward.
Simply stating a “goal” such as “I need a website” or “I want more clients” is too vague and gives you nothing to measure your success (or failure) against. The following are better: I will create a one page website. I will increase my website traffic by 50%. I will get five new clients. The more specific the goal, the better your chances of attaining it and the more Actionable the idea.
I am not going to be a ballerina by the end of the year. No amount of preparation between now and December will result in me performing at The Wang Theatre in Boston for New Year’s Eve. This is not a realistic goal for me.
Unrealistic goals set you up for a fall and kill your enthusiasm toward other goals that you can achieve. Be realistic while remembering that worthwhile goals should force you to reach out of your comfort zone in order to attain them.
Each of your goals must also have a Time element. Time frames make the goals more measurable and more “real” for you. You know when 60 days goes by and you either made your goal, are working towards it or must re-evaluate whether or not the goal needs to be revised or is no longer realistic. Without that time element, it’s too easy to keep pushing the actions until tomorrow or next week and you’ll never be encouraged to act on the goal – consider having a deadline embedded in every goal your kick in the butt to get moving. There is no set time frame for every person or every action. Set a timeframe that is a challenge for you and be determined to make each subsequent timeframe slightly shorter to consistently improve your success.
“I will create a one page website within the next 60 days” or “I will increase my website traffic by 50% in the next 90 days” are both good examples of specific goals with deadlines.
It is very motivating to list the “why” of each goal. Why do you want to accomplish X? List all of the benefits that you, AND others, will receive from the achievement of your goal.
When tempted to play hooky or skip a conference call, it’s helpful to have a written list of why you are working so hard whether it be to grow your business or get a promotion or whatever your goal is. Seeing the resulting benefits is a great way to stay on track.
Know the cost.
The achievement of every goal comes with a cost. The cost may be financial or it could be that you need to get up an hour earlier each morning or eat more salads. What will it take for you to achieve your goal and are you prepared for it? If there is no cost, the chances are that your goal isn’t worth much. Locking yourself in a room, in a coffee shop corner or under a tree somewhere for a few hours with your laptop or a legal pad to work on your goals may not sound exciting, but it’s critical to the success of your business.
Your goals need to work together. Conflicting goals are damaging emotionally and the likelihood of you completing any one of them is greatly diminished.
For example, the following two goals are inconsistent and would result in a healthy dose of frustration for both you and those around you:
1. I will spend every weekend playing with my kids during the summer.
2. I will take three college courses during the summer to further advance my career.
The issue is obvious. Three college courses while working a full-time job are going to interfere with spending every weekend playing with the children. It may work for the first week or two, but overall it’s a recipe for failure. When establishing your goals within your marketing plan, all of the goals must lead to the same end, to further your business.