One of the keys to success at anything is to have a good plan. As they say “when you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. Why not start 2012 by creating a marketing strategy plan to take your business to the next level? Here are some steps to make the process as painless and effective as possible.
Know where you’ve been
Take some time to go over how your business faired in 2011. Consider what marketing efforts you took and the results that you saw. Look at your monthly revenue, profits, conversion rates, etc. What successes or failures contributed to the changes in those numbers over the course of the year. Ask yourself whether your failed efforts were the result of poorly chosen actions or poor execution. For example, if you started a Twitter marketing campaign, but didn’t generate any new business from it, is it because your product or service does not do well on Twitter? A clue to whether this is true lies in how your competitor’s Twitter efforts have done. If the competition is doing well with an approach and you are not, it may be in how you are going about things. Studying the methods of successful competitors or similar noncompeting industries can show you where you can improve on your past efforts.
Find what you can change
Once you understand the successes and failures from the past year, consider what is in your power to change and how to improve. There is really little you can do about the current state of the world’s economies, so focus on what you can change. If your market is drying up, then determine if there are other markets that might be less affected by the current state of things. Formulate plans on how you can avoid the mistakes of the past and maximize the successes. In what topics does it make sense to seek training or hire an expert. Are there activities that you could outsource to make better use of your time?
Decide on where you want to be
Think about where you would like to take your business over the course of 2012. Come up with specific measureable numbers. If you want to grow your sales by 15%, then figure out how many dollars, units, new customers are required to do that, then divide those figures by 12 to see what your average monthly growth figures will be. You should end up with a list of goals like: “Increase average monthly sales by 200 units.”
Define high level tasks
Take everything from the previous activities and create major tasks you need to undertake to accomplish your new goals. Here you will be defining things like “Create and promote Facebook fan page to drive more traffic to website.” “Use Twitter to reach more potential customers”
Lay out more detailed steps
Next take the high level tasks and break them down into smaller steps. Continuing from the task example, you might create steps like: “Study tutorial on creating Facebook fan pages” “Create fan page” “Run Facebook ad for promoting fan page” “Increase Twitter followers by 200 this month” “Send tweet about new blog post”
Give yourself specific deadlines and refer to your schedule daily.
Review your progress
Periodically review your progress to make sure you are on track. Also, at the end of each month review how you did on your list of steps, tasks, and goals. Measure your progress to see if you are achieving the results that you want.
Make course corrections
Your plan should be a living thing, growing and adapting as needed. To make sure it is, look at where you were too ambitious (or not ambitious enough), got off track, or ended up with results that are not what you wanted. Make corrections to the next month’s activities to make your plan more realistic, get yourself back on track, or to try a different approach where needed.