Have you ever tried to put together a desk or other piece of “easy to assemble” furniture? Now, have you ever tried to put it together without the instructions? If so, you probably ended up with something that resembled the desk pictured on the box (if you’re lucky), but it was likely much wobblier and possibly even a bit cockeyed. And then there were those two handfuls of “extra” pieces that didn’t seem to fit anywhere. You hoped their absence didn’t mean the desk would completely fall apart one day. But you weren’t very confident of its stability.
This is what it’s like to try to run your business without a written marketing plan. And how much more complicated is your business than a plywood desk?
Your written marketing plan is the instruction manual for the marketing aspect of your business. It ensures that you’re putting all of the pieces together correctly to construct the business that you want. It relieves you from having to rely on your memory to decide which piece goes where and prevents you from wasting your time and money doing the wrong things to meet your goals.
1. Start with the end in mind.
The first step in creating your marketing plan for the year is to focus on your end goal. What do you want to accomplish with your marketing this year? Do you want to find new customers? Increase customer retention? Boost first-time customer sales? Generate more repeat business? Capture a greater number of referrals? What is the dollar amount you’re shooting for in terms of individual product sales? It’s ineffective to try to determine what type of marketing to employ if you haven’t identified the specific reason for your marketing effort.
2. Revisit the past.
Once you’ve established your marketing goals for the current year, evaluate your past marketing efforts. What has been successful? What seemed to be a waste of resources? Is there something you need to tweak? For example, you may have found that your print ad in the local newspaper hasn’t been as effective as you think it could be. Why is that? Do you need to rethink your message? Is your call to action clear? Would a change of ad size or placement enhance your response rate?