As business owners, we generally seek out good advice about what’s best, and then don’t follow it. If we have a marketing plan, we often put it on the shelf.
I’ve spelled out advice on how to formulate an easy marketing plan. If you follow, I guarantee the results will be positive. If you don’t, know that you won’t be alone.
Step one: Document! What leaves you with more business, do more of
This one step is all you really need. Put down on paper what you are doing in marketing on a daily basis. Start a notebook with today’s date and write each thing you do for marketing. Keep the notebook for at least a year. Review it each day with a note next to how activities worked out. Do not write how you imagine it will turn out.
Marketing is math and science, so the numbers are such that you should experience an activity several times to have a strong sense of it. If you advertise, don’t base results on one ad. Once an activity is recorded and reviewed, it becomes very easy to cross out what isn’t working.
Step two: To achieve bigger goals, take smaller steps
Many marketing novices want to have everything that the bigger companies do in marketing. If you mimic one particular activity, you might notice that the big companies often take steps so tiny they look inconsequential. It turns out the tiny-steps approach really works. The bigger the task, the smaller the steps you should take.
Take five minutes today to jot a few goals for marketing down in your notebook. Often clients think they need to plan a big retreat. However, some of them have come back two years later without having started making goals. Whereas if you sit for five minutes today, you might find that the five minutes turns to ten, then to 15. And you won’t clock two years to begin writing marketing goals.
Step three: When you don’t know how to respond to a marketing opportunity, try the truth
I won’t lie; not participating in a networking function that’s in Vancouver can create tension. If you don’t know how an activity builds your bottom line, say no. I’ve learned the hard way that trying to do too many things, creates ending up not accomplishing any goal. Then, I get resentful that I lost time which then can damage relationships.
If something doesn’t fit as a strategy, don’t do it. Just write it into your notebook. Expressing it in a way that relates back to goals cuts a clear path through the jungle of business relationships.
Step four: Free yourself from other people’s business
I labored for decades trying to figure out how something might fit with what someone else was doing simply because another business invited me, before I finally noticed that (1) this never worked and (2) it drove me insane. The key I’ve found is to stay away from the idea that we should do everything that other business friends suggest unless it truly builds marketing results for you in equal portions.
At this point, you might note that Alice in Wonderland did take some of her own advice. She remembered, for example, that “if you drink much from a bottle marked ‘poison,’ it is almost certain to disagree with you, sooner or later.”
You’ve already had enough marketing experiences to notice when a marketing opportunity is marked “poison.” Remember how much that last opportunity did or didn’t move you forward and make a choice that meets your goals. Take small steps. Be honest with people about what is working and write it down. You’ll have a draft of your very own marketing plan!
Lisa Schmidt is a marketing communications strategist. She can be reached at GetMarketingMatters@gmail.com or 360.314.2730.