How do you feel about the month of September as a business owner? Excited or overwhelmed, ready for a fresh start or wishing the summer would never end?mI know I am always ready for September when it arrives, it just feels like there is a fresh energy and renewed sense of purpose as people get back into their routine after the holidays.
Sometimes it can feel overwhelming when you realise there are only 4 months of the year left. How can you get focused on what you want to achieve and give yourself and your business the best chance of starting 2019 in success mode?
I like to regularly review my marketing plan and get laser focused on where I'm at now and where I want to be in the next few months. This is a super simple 2 stage exercise, all you need is a pen, some paper and an hour or so to do the initial snapshot and big vision review.
The marketing planner stage will need a little more time but you will definitely be more focused and ready to create this after completing this exercise.
6 Month Sales/Marketing Snapshot
Taking a "snapshot" of your business as it stands now is a great way to get an overall view of your current position. This is not initially about digging deep into your business, the aim here is so you can get an impression or overview.
Within the snapshot it helps to have categories as follows so you can piece together your marketing snapshot.
- current business position - where are you now, what is your business model
- current sales/marketing channels being used
- key wins and successes from the year so far
- things which haven't gone as well as you had hoped
- the marketing goals you started the year with
- where has your marketing spend gone this year? have you seen a return? was it a sound investment? have you tracked your success? (examples could be Facebook ads, external support like PR, online marketing etc.)
- current financials - monthly net business income
- Have you formed any successful collaborations this year? Did you run any events, create any partnerships you would like to roll out again next year?
- anything which is already on plan for the remainder of the year (this could be new launches or seasonal promotions).
- what are you taking into 2019 and what do you want to focus your energy on? What are you leaving behind?
The Big Vision
Once you have mapped out your current situation you can move onto stage 2.
Where do you want to be in January 2019? Again create a doc where you can start jotting down your thoughts. It helps to start with a big vision which you can then break down. I like to map it out so I can see the exact steps I need to take.
So your overall big vision might be to increase your monthly business sales by x amount, win x number of new clients, launch a seasonal promotion which generates x number of sales.
These are all great examples because it's easy to break this type of vision down into actionable ideas and a marketing plan to get you there.
The Marketing Plan
What marketing activities do you need to put in place in order to achieve those goals?
This stage is about creating a month by month marketing plan for the next 4 months. You don't need to have each month created in detail to begin with. If you start with month 1 and then you can plan and review accordingly. As long as you keep your big vision in your mind, you can keep referring back to this so you know which direction you are moving in.
What has worked well for you this year?
Next go back and look at your snapshot document. What marketing activities were a success so far this year for you? This will give you a good idea of what will work for you again. For example if you have seen a lot of success from your social media channels this year in terms of generating new business leads, then this could be your strongest marketing channel. You already have a "warm audience" of people waiting to hear from you and engage with you and you should utilise this as a priority.
Remember you need to have an integrated approach which combines different channels which will work together. Don't rely on just one. Perhaps pick 3-4 of your strongest ones based on what you have noted in your snapshot document and remember you can always trial a new channel in there that you haven't used before. Good marketing is all about being fluid, trialling, testing and reviewing. No marketing plan should ever be set in stone as you always need to be able to react and act accordingly.
The best approach to marketing I believe is to have a combination of tried and tested methods and innovation/creativity.
Don't be afraid to try something new!
Maybe you haven't used video in your marketing yet and want to trial Instagram or Facebook lives into your content plan.
Maybe you want to trial some PR outreach as part of your next seasonal promotion. What steps do you need to take next in order to do this?
Next is to look at what tools you need in order to kickstart your marketing plan. This is super important as without your day to day tools and planning ahead for what you need, you will find it stressful to put your plan in place. To keep it simple have your toolkit ready for month 1.
Your toolkit might look like this
- Images - what promotional images will you need?
- weekly content themes and distribution plan
- newsletter plan - what is going out and when and what will be in the newsletter
- online marketing plan if you need one
- website - does this need refreshing in terms of content
- what else do you need that is specific to your business type?
Bringing it all together
Once you have your plan, ideas and toolkit in place - plot everything onto a spreadsheet so you can view monthly/weekly what you need to switch on and when.
Outsource what you need to
Is there anything on the plan you need to outsource or get help with - make sure you get the support in place in advance if you need to.
Time to put everything in place! Don't forget to review your activities at the end of month 1 and going forwards.
Let me know how you get on!