Sounds simple but don't be fooled. Most businesses are winging it all the time. They might think they are working to a plan, and might actually have written one but in fact they are dictated by either external forces or a whim.
So what do you need to do to write an effective plan that will work for you?
Well! It doesn't have to be long and complicated. It doesn't have to be the sort of document that many people write to impress their bank manager or to get funding. In the main these marketing plans are crap. They are too cumbersome to follow and update. They are too rigid.
Here's what I have found works.
You'll need 3 A4 sheets.
One is your 5 year plan.The second your annual planThe third is the most important and is your "here and now" plan
None are written in stone. All are living documents to reflect what you want to achieve and how. All need to be brief and mainly bullet points. So lets look at each in turn.
5 Year Plan
Head this up and draw a line down the sheet.On the left side put your basic and most important goals and be specific, so for example you may want to employ 5 more people within the period, triple your turnover based on an existing and accurate figure, employ a sales-person to increase sales or a manager to free up your time. Then put how you'll achieve these goals. If you have put down employ 5 people what steps will you have to take, what will they do and how will that impact on, for example, your time, premises, profitability. Triple sales then how will you achieve this? What marketing tools will you employ? Can you cope with that with your current work-force, financial situation, premises etc.So this document will keep you thinking.
This should reflect what you've written in your 5 year plan and how you will get started. Prepare an A4 sheet as before with a line down it.If you've written down that you'll triple your turnover in 5 years what are the basic steps you need to take to achieve in the first year? Remember that if you just increase by 30% each year for 5 years that's just under 350%, and in excess of your target. 30% may seem a lot but it isn't when you begin to look closely as I'll show you in a future article.So now you've written down your annual plan to achieve the first leg.
Here & Now Plan
So do the same again and prepare a single sheet of A4 paper.What do you have to do right now, this week? Write down the 3 most important marketing jobs that will bring in sales, that will raise your business profile, that will help you reach your goals.Stick this sheet up in a prominent place where you can see it and put the other 2 sheets in an A4 ring binder. You can add in information, put in your "here and now" sheets and see how you are progressing.
As you follow your plan you'll feel a sense of satisfaction. You'll feel less stresses. You'll meet your goals.
Of course there'll be problems cropping up but you'll find these can be dealt with on a day to day basis and you still have time to work on your plan. I know that if you do this for just 1 month you'll get into a new habit. And once you've formed a new habit it'll be difficult to kick it.
Go on give it a try and succeed.