Retool . Rework . Relearn.
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” —Benjamin Franklin
In my last business know-how post, I laid out the basics for a strategic marketing plan. In a nutshell: Create a plan for a one year period of time. Answer the main questions of who, what, where, when, and how. Know your goals and what you want to accomplish. Define your brand and decide how you’re going to market it. Determine what you can accomplish with your limited time and money. And start jotting down ideas and thoughts.
Once you have these things floating around in your mind and scribbled on paper, it is time to begin writing out your marketing plan.
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”—Antoine de Saint-Exupery
This might sound “old school” but entrepreneur.com suggests that you “Put your marketing plan in a three-ring binder. Refer to it at least quarterly, but better yet monthly…(track) monthly reports on sales…this will allow you to track performance as you follow the plan.” I know from experience that there will be times when you can’t see any progress until you go back to your plan and see where you started. This is not an overnight project. Give yourself permission to take a few weeks or a month to pull the information together and to lay it out in an orderly fashion.
Make sure to involve employees, co-workers, and/or partners in this process—especially those who handle finances, social media, and production. Get their feedback and thoughts. It’ll help you know if you’re on track if you run the plan by others. Also, your conversations with other invested individuals will probably lead to some great ideas.
The other thing to consider is whether your marketing plan has continuity with your business plan. You have a business plan don’t you? Does your marketing plan reflect and support your business plan? Does it serve your overall goals and philosophy?
“Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning.” —Winston Churchill
When I have worked with clients to create a marketing plan I help them develop a calendar which we can refer to when, for example, a newsletter or press release is due—a place to list the steps for each project to ensure things are done efficiently and effectively. In fact, with many of my clients we list due dates directly on a shared calendar which is a smart way to remind both of us when things are due and who is in charge of a particular task. It is literally a to-do list.
Another thing to consider is the marketplace. What is happening currently or trending in your market which could be a benefit to you or could prove to be a challenge? What is happening in the world as a whole that could impact your goals and the way you market?
A trend is a social, technological, political, financial, or design movement in a specific direction which can be short term (a fad or fashion) or it can have a life span of ten years or longer—such as the cell phone, the electric car, or the “green” jewelry movement—which are all trends.
If you are building a business you will want to discern which trends are short-term “fads” and avoid those. Fads have a very short life and by the time you get your jewelry to market are inevitably outdated and on the sale rack. That said, increasing your awareness of lasting trends is a powerful tool.
It is wonderful to have a plan, but in order to put the plan into action you’ll need to set attainable goals and at the end of a year quantify your results. If your goal is to open five new stores and you manage to open seven, then you’ve obviously been successful. If your goal is to increase your social media presence, you might track your success by investigating how many people are following you, how many new friends you have, and how much response you get to posts. Your goals should be reasonable and attainable. Here are some typical marketing goals you might aim for:
- Introduce new products
- Open up new markets and territories
- Revisit accounts that have not been active
- Increase your sales—be specific!
- Consider developing work at a different price point
- Raise prices without losing sales
- Improve and update your production
- Increase your online presence
- Expand your retail operation to include wholesale accounts
The final word of wisdom is to look at your finances. What can you afford and what can you do for yourself to save a buck? I recommend consulting with your bookkeeper or someone close to you who understands accounting and can help you pull together the numbers you need to make wise marketing decisions. This is where having your handy three-ring binder comes into play. It’ll give you a concrete place to revisit what you’ve written, set goals, crunch numbers, and keep track of your actions. Revise those which seem to not be working, decide what new direction you want to head in, record it and see what happens. It is literally trial and error.
I recently chatted with Mike Dickman a social media and marketing consultant and his words of advice for any company when creating a marketing plan are, “The right answer or plan is the one that works for you.” And, you should also remember that your plan is a living, fluid document, and as such you should feel free to tweak or overhaul it at any time. There is no one right answer. In other words, RETOOL – REWORK – RELEARN from your experiences.