FORTUNE COOKIE MARKETING
All businesses should plan for success by setting goals and forming a plan of action. That's the purpose of a business plan and marketing plan. While this is a common sense approach, the truth is, a large majority of small businesses don't have a marketing plan or a business plan. They just fly by the seat of their pants from day to day and hope that today is a good day and magically hundreds of new customers will flock to their business. I call this "fortune cookie marketing" because you have no control over your success. With this approach, there will be good days and there will be bad days. If you leave it to chance, there will be more good days than bad.
"ARE YOU PLANNING YOUR SUCCESS OR JUST HOPING FOR GOOD FORTUNE?"
No matter what time of year it is, it is never too late to draft a business plan to define your company vision, mission, objectives, strategies, and plans. Your business plan will be a daily guide to make sure you are focusing on the tasks you need to accomplish to grow your business. A business plan is not a document that you can just create within a few minutes. It takes serious thought and reflection on your current business practices. If you see an area of growth, you should embrace it and plan ways for more growth in that area. On the other hand, if there are areas that are not producing, figure out if there are ways to improve that for success or possibly dump that area all together to help improve your bottom line.
PLAN FOR SUCCESS
Planning is not hard, but it does take time and thought. You have to ask yourself many important questions such as, "How do I want my business to be known?" and "What are the strengths and weaknesses of my business?" The answers to these questions will prompt you to decide the direction of your company's focus. Here are the main components of a simple business plan:
- Company Vision -This statement simply paints an overall picture about your business describing how you see your company in the future. This should be full of passion and optimism describing the direction of your business.
- Mission Statement - Describe why your business will benefit your customers and why they should use your company.
- Objectives - These are measurable goals that you want to accomplish. You should include specific numbers or direct statements as well as the time to accomplish. For example, increase website traffic from 20K visitors per month to 25K visitors per month by the end of December.
- Strategies - How, specifically, will you meet your objectives? These strategies should directly relate to your objectives and include the person responsible for accomplishing them. For example, frequent blogging (5 times per week) by Patrick.
- Future Plans - Specifically layout future expansions and additions and include a date by which you will accomplish them. For example, add ecommerce to our website by July 2013.
"HE WHO FAILS TO PLAN IS PLANNING TO FAIL"...WINSTON CHURCHILL
MARKETING PLAN - TURN YOUR OBJECTIVES INTO ACTIONS
If you are a visionary, planning is easy. It may be the putting the plan into action that is the difficult part. That's why a marketing plan is so important. I like to divide my marketing plan into segmented tasks: Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Quarterly, and Annual. I then create a simple checklist format for each segment and print out the marketing plan each month and check the boxes as each task is completed. This ensures that I complete each of the tasks (strategies) from the plan. By having the checklist and following it daily, I will not be leaving our marketing up to chance. For larger companies, the marketing strategies are performed by multiple people; therefore, multiple marketing plan checklists may be needed. You can also create a digital checklist and follow that as well depending on your preference.
To be successful, the process begins with planning and strategizing, followed by a firm plan of action. Marketing is not a menial task that remains the same. It is a fluid action that has to constantly adapt. By paying attention to your marketing plan on a daily basis, it will be much easier to control your marketing and thus control your bottom line. From now on, no more fortune cookie marketing! Save your fortune cookies for fun only at the end of your Chinese restaurant meals!