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Your Marketing Plan was a Waste of Time… if it Lives in a Drawer.

Eager start-ups often generate business and marketing plans. Or, somewhere along the line a more established company says ‘we should take this seriously, do this on purpose’ and have one done professionally. People often initiate some of the recommended activities, enthusiastic at first. Then, they get busy with work work, the novelty wears off, or people aren’t comfortable with marketing tasks or aren’t getting the support they need.

It’s too difficult, paid work gets in the way or it’s just not a priority. Enthusiasm wears thin, so the grand plan gets filed away and forgotten.

When was the last time you looked at your marketing plan?

You created a marketing plan for a reason, you felt it was necessary at one time. You spent money and effort on it. The motivation may  have been to meet revenue targets, increase market share or awareness, attract more ideal clients. Those goals have probably not gone away. So how can you help make sure the plan gets put into action?

Top Five Ways to Turn Plans into Actions

Break it down into tasks. A good marketing plan will include timing of proposed activities over a year, like when eblasts go out, when ads run, when we’re planning the Open House, etc. Plotted on an Excel spreadsheet is helpful. It can seem overwhelming, so take one thing at a time (i.e. January Newsletter) and then working backwards from that deliverable break it down into tasks (i.e. Test email, upload content to template, proofread content, write content, research and gather images, choose this month’s topic). Also, assign these tasks to specific people, with deadlines.

Make it someone’s job. I know as a CEO myself that immediate needs easily get in the way. However, if you make it someone’s job to make sure marketing things happen, it becomes just another one of their duties. Make sure they view it to be as important as other duties. Whether you recruit a marketing professional or create an in-house marketing committee, it’ll take some of the grunt work off your plate. The CEO and internal experts’ input may still be needed, but with someone in charge of scheduling you won’t get away with blowing it off.

Alternately, or as well, pay someone outside to do it. Yes, a firm like ours. For most of our mid-sized B2B clients it doesn’t make sense to have a marketing professional in-house. They may have someone responsible, like a sales or office manager, but we become their marketing department. We know how to do it all, it’s our full-time gig. We have multiple resources. We’re motivated to get it done successfully in order to be paid and asked back.

Use software or shared calendar. Put the schedule into a calendar a year in advance, with alerts. If you don’t put the detailed break-down of tasks determined in tip one into the calendar, at least make the first alert far enough in advance to accomplish the activity (i.e. two weeks for a newsletter edition). Schedule in the blocks of time needed to get it done.

Do you use Sharepoint or Basecamp with clients? Why not for internal projects – assign milestones, share documents and keep it all organized. Basecamp is free if you have less than a certain number of projects open.

Take it as seriously as paid work. Once you assign the bits and pieces, and schedule in the time to get it done, take it as seriously as you would a client meeting or deliverable. Don’t let it be the first thing to get cancelled if something comes up. I completely understand that you want to serve your current clients well – so do we. However, many companies don’t make the time to do their marketing, then when the current work is complete, they are scrambling for more. Be consistent and continual to meet your goals.

Monitoring goals is good for motivation. Your marketing plan must have goals and objectives, and should include methods of measuring their success. If you utilize metrics and track the results, you will quickly see what’s working. Good results let you know your efforts are worth it and will motivate you to keep going.

Create Momentum

We can write strategies and plans to our heart’s content, but if they don’t translate to action, there’s no point. On the other hand, action without strategy and planning is scattered and much less effective. It seems like a lot of work, but once you get it going, get into a groove and start seeing results, it’ll get easier and easier. And remember, you’re not alone.

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