In previous posts we discussed how to start your marketing plan and how to analyze your target market. Next, in the action plans section of your marketing plan, you’ll develop a detailed marketing “to do” list. It’s a task list that describes what will be done, when each task will begin and be completed, and who is responsible for accomplishing it.
Your action plan
Once you SWOT analyze your marketing objectives, the marketing action plan picks up where the objectives leave off. For example, let’s use the objective, “Increase market awareness by 15% by December, 31 2010,” from my previous post. How can you attain that? Here are a couple of action plans to get things rolling:
- Ongoing: Develop topics list [Ralph and Jane]
- July 1–5: Identify publications and sites and pitch articles [Ralph and Jane]
- July 7–8: Draft first article [Ralph]
- July 9: Proofread [Jane]
- July 10: Revisions and corrections [Ralph]
- July 11: Submit article [Ralph]
- August 1–3: Develop topics [George, Ralph, Karen, and Kim]
- Ongoing: Identify possible venues, make contacts, and pitch [Mary and Chris]
- August 4–25: Write content and develop presentations [George, Ralph, Karen, and Kim]
- August 25–31: Proofread [Jane and Mary]
- September 1–3: Corrections and revisions [George, Ralph, Karen, and Kim]
- September 4–10: Rehearse presentations [George, Ralph, Karen, and Kim]
Your marketing calendar
You’ve looked at where you’re at and how you managed to get yourself there, got a take on your competition, defined your audience, defined your product and/or service offerings and pricing, set your objectives, and created your action plans. Good job! Give yourself a pat on the back.
Now you’ve got to create a way to implement your plan and keep moving forward. Trust me, it’s really easy to put all this stuff on the back burner when things get busy. But the time to do your most aggressive marketing is when you’re at your busiest. It ensures that you stay that way and that you can start to pick and choose those clients and projects that interest you. In other words, do what you enjoy, rather than do whatever comes in the door because you need to pay the rent.
Enter the Marketing Calendar. Although you can use a printed calendar for this, I highly recommend using a software calendar. Windows Outlook has a nifty one. Macs come equipped with iCal. Other options are ACT!, a very robust full contact manager, and of course there’s Google Calendar.
When all’s said and done, going through this exercise will not only help you run a tighter ship, it will take your marketing efforts out of the “mysterious and overwhelming” arena and put it in the “doable” one. With a well-thought-out plan, you know what needs to be done, when, and how much it’s going to cost. It will put you in a much better competitive position, especially against the guy or gal who didn’t take the time to plan.
Beyond this, marketing becomes loads easier and over time you’ll learn what works for you and what doesn’t. When that happens, you can easily duplicate your efforts and kiss the feast-or-famine monster away forever. And that, dear reader, is a wonderful feeling.