In the online marketing course I gave recently in Sydney, I asked people to map out their plans for the year ahead. While some immediately got scribbling, it appeared that others had never considered planning their business in such a way before. Most likely, they were too busy doing to find time for planning to do.
When lack of planning brings efforts unstuck
- The advertising campaign that directs people to a phone number which is never answered, or a website homepage which is unrelated to the online ad, leading to hang-ups and bounces (what’s a bounce?).
- The personal trainer who does a Cudo deal without adequate planning, preparation and parameters, and is inundated with new clients, leading to burn-out, soured relationships with old clients who can’t get a booking, and working for pittance.
- The overseas retreat where marketing isn’t given enough priority, planning, time and budget, leading to panicked last-minute discounting which leads to people who have paid full price asking for discounts.
- We all have demands on our time and it often appears more important to actually do something than to plan to do something. Yet this is short-term thinking. Planning ensures that opportunities aren’t missed, that necessary events happen in a timely fashion and that things, indeed, get done.
How to plan a year ahead
On a large sheet of paper:-
- Write in your holidays
Write in your naturally busy periods
Write in your naturally quiet periods
If you have any long-term goals, such as leading a retreat in Europe, write that down too, even if it is more than a year away.
Now think about how you can keep your quiet periods humming along and capitalise on your busy periods.
When business is quiet
Implement your promotions in the lead-up to quiet periods. These may involve discounts, bring-a-friend specials and promotions, advertising or term-long programs and courses where clients pay up-front.
Renovations, research and preparation should be done into your quiet periods.
When you’re busy
Marketing your business is really best done when you’re busy. The buzz of busyness is the best time to implement those audacious plans that scare you a little – approach synergistic businesses to cook up cross-promotions, start writing that book, or launch your podcast series.
When your studio or clinic is filled, that’s the ideal time to offer incentives for people to give you their email address or join your Facebook page, and to show off your business to best effect.
Write it down
If you don’t write something you want down, chances are, it won’t happen.
Writing it down gives it gravitas. Writing it down enables you to examine it at close quarters to see whether you’ve identified potential problems, weighted up feasibility, worked out necessary timings, done your budgeting, and thought of all possibilities around your marketing idea.
I have a box on my desk labeled Great Ideas that my ‘on-the-fly’ ideas go into, both great and small. Sifting through these ideas to bring to life or to chuck is a luxury compared with having an empty box.
Write all those ideas down, especially the audacious ones. And then get planning.