This Year’s To-Do-List is NOT Next Year’s Marketing Plan

It’s the New Year – A time when most of us reflect personally and professionally on what we did and did not accomplish the year prior, deciding what our new goals will be for the year ahead. We hit it hard in January with a few action steps to right our wrongs and reach for the stars, but by mid-February or early March we have abandoned all or most of our ideals and activities. We go back to merely getting the minimum done because the amount of time and effort we put into our objectives at the beginning of the year was way too hard to keep up with long term.

Let’s dissect this phenomenon as it relates to your business marketing plans. (WARNING: these questions may sting a bit). Do you still have a menagerie of items on your “get your marketing in order for this year” list? Do you have tasks from last year’s planning that you started, but still haven’t finished? Do you feel overwhelmed with what you “need” to do, what you “should” do, and what you “want” to do for marketing your business to the public? Have you tried creating a new to-do list using the left-over list from last year as means of helping you plan your new year of marketing objectives? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, don’t worry – I’m here to help!

What you may be missing from your marketing plan is a meaningful “why” that will motivate you to complete projects and build a cohesive strategy. Answer these questions: What is the reason you had particular items on your current list? What is your REAL motivation for implementing these marketing strategies and projects? If you have staff, why should they really care to help you market your services?

The key to accomplishing any goal or task is knowing why it’s even on your list. Not just a reason – a meaningful “why.” If you are only doing something because you know you “have to” or because someone else told you that it was “necessary”, or even just because you “want to”, yet you have no real meaningful “why” – then what is your real motivation to do it, complete it, or care about the task? Your “WHY” is the most important ingredient to successfully accomplishing your marketing goals. Without it, you’ll just look and feel busy with no clear purpose; therefore pushing tasks further and further out into the future or not forsaking your marketing goals altogether.

Every marketing activity you plan must coincide with the Purpose, Mission, and Vision of your company’s product and service. This is Step 1 – develop your “WHY.” If you don’t have these statements written out – stop everything and do it now! Map it out on a white board or on a monster piece of paper. Get your executives or consultants involved in this discovery process if you haven’t already. This is vital!!! Everything else you do will be built around this initial discovery process. What is your end-game? What do you want your clients, patients, or customers to experience when they choose you and your company? What do you really offer to the public and what makes you unique? This is where you START in planning your marketing strategies. If you don’t have this first – no marketing goal will succeed to its full potential.

If you already have these statements configured, type them up as the first page of your 2014 Marketing Plan. A plan of any kind is far more effective if it is written. Therefore, if you truly want to accomplish your marketing goals for the next 12 months, it is vital that you have a written document, organized with a list of goals and projects that support your purpose. The trick? Don’t over-complicate it! To make it a little easier I’ve laid out steps and procedures to help get you started.

After you have completed Step 1 and established a clear idea of your Vision, Mission and Purpose – write down only two or three strategic marketing Big Ideas that you believe will help you achieve your purpose in the next 12 months. This is Step 2. Take each Big Idea and write out in paragraph form why you need to accomplish each goal starting with what you have already done in that area. Then continue to write out what needs to be done, changed or enhanced to accomplish your Big Idea goal as it relates to your “why”. This may mean 2-3 paragraphs that really tell the story for each Big Idea. Once you have these strategies written, you’ll work on Step 3 – your Major Marketing Project List.

This is the tactical aspect of your plan design. Under each Big Idea that feeds and markets to your purpose, make a Major Marketing Project List of items that support achieving each main goal. For example: your strategic marketing Big Idea may be to re-brand your company and your Major Marketing Project List may consist of items like updating your logo, creating a new company brochure, building a new website, etc. You should have a Major Marketing Project List for each Big Idea. Don’t worry about how you are going get the projects done yet – that comes next in Step 4.

Once you have your Major Marketing Project List for each Big Idea, then you prioritize the projects under each goal keeping in mind you may need to start some projects simultaneously to achieve your immediate targets. I find it helpful to go back to the white board and map an outline of all your projects to decide what should be done first to make the next project easier. As you begin the process, you’ll start to see the whole plan come together. This priority list may change after you start to put the action steps in motion, but at least you have the initial track to run on with a clear purpose.

Now it’s time to create your Immediate Marketing To-Do-List. The key to stamina in the implementation of your marketing plan is to weave these new activities into your schedule gradually so they become part of the fabric of your current lifestyle and work ethic. Pick a marketing project or two off the list and write down steps you believe are needed to take that project from start to finish. You have now moved into Step 5 and this is your Immediate Marketing To-Do-List. Don’t try and make a list of steps for every project under your Big Ideas. Taking on too much causes most business owners to give up on the planning process and why most marketing plans are not fully implemented. One you have a list of action steps for a project, only take the first step of the selected project(s) and put it on your Immediate To-Do-List. Give yourself a realistic deadline, and then do it. When it’s done, put the next item on your list, etc., until that one project is complete. Then return to Step 4, for the next prioritized project and continue the process until you accomplish your Big Idea(s).

As you begin the New Year with Big Ideas and marketing goals – just know that with proper planning and a meaningful “why,” you can maintain your momentum and keep your motivation all year long.

Always Remember: “Marketing Makes You Money™”

Next Year’s Marketing Plan:

  • Step 1
    Write your Company’s Purpose, Mission, and Vision Statements. This is your “WHY”.
  • Step 2:
    Write down two or three strategic marketing Big Ideas that you believe will help you achieve your newly defined purpose in the next 12 months.
  • Step 3:
    Under each Big Idea make a Major Marketing Project list of items that support achieving each main goal in your marketing plan.
  • Step 4:
    Pick a Major Marketing Project or two off the list and write down steps you believe are needed to take that project from start to finish. This is now your Immediate Marketing To-Do-List for your 2014 Marketing Plan.
  • Step 5:
    Finally, give yourself a realistic deadline, and then DO IT.
  • Step 6:
    Rinse and Repeat steps 4 and 5 until you reach your stated marketing goals.