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Marketing plans are very necessary to your small business success. But, they’re not the end all answer. If you don’t have any way to put your marketing plans into play, they won’t produce any results.
small business marketing, marketing tips, marketing ideas, marketing strategy
You want to grow your small business, but how do you do that? Many of the small businesses I work with are not really sure what works best, or how, or where to get started.
We’re all familiar with the term Marketing, but what in the heck is it really supposed to do for us?
* Build brand awareness
* Build name recognition
* Increase market share
* Get more clients
* Generate referrals
* Create more repeat business
Maybe you’ve tried some things in the past like brochures, yellow pages advertising, Chamber of Commerce networking but were disappointed with the results so you stopped doing them. And it seems that others are always willing to give you advice. Never mind that they have no idea what they’re doing either.
You know you need to be marketing, so why isn’t it getting done? There are just so many other things to take care of when you are trying to run and grow a business.
Maybe you have a lot of ideas, but still nothing happens. Are you guilty of any of these common small business symptoms – over analysis? perfectionism? fear of failure?
If you can relate, there’s a good chance that your ideas never get off the drawing board and put into action. And your visions of taking your business to new heights never materialize.
Action Without Ideas Is No Good Either
There is an opposite end of the spectrum which is also quite dangerous to the long-term health of your business.
Action without ideas can lead to a lot of busy work without a lot of new business growth. You might get lucky because at least you’re taking action. But, the results are more likely to be less than what you expect or need.
You Need A Plan To Put Ideas Into Action
OK, so I’m not going to talk a whole lot today about the need to have a marketing plan. Obviously the first thing you need to do is be clear about where you’re headed and what you’d like to get accomplished. For more insight on marketing planning, visit my proven-small-business-marketing-solutionsxhcb web site.
For purposes of this article, I’m assuming you have some ideas, but just not the activity and results you need. You’ve studied up, learned some great techniques, pretty much know what you need to get done, and you have the best intentions. Then why is it you still don’t seem to get any marketing completed.
You see, while marketing plans are vital to your success, they’re not the end all answer. Left alone, marketing plans don’t produce any results.
In order to get your ideas into action, you need a little something more. Here are three things I suggest to start putting your marketing ideas into action for your business:
1. Create A Simple Action Plan
You need to have an action plan. In my experience, most marketing plans cover the “what you want to do,” but not necessarily the “plan to actually get it done.”
An action plan actually translates the “what” into the tasks and activities needed to complete each of the objectives. Your action plan needs to be in sufficient enough detail for you to know what it takes to get the strategies and tactics implemented.
Your marketing action plan could be as simple as a checklist of all the marketing activities you want to be implemented. Keep the checklist handy and check off the tasks and activities as they are completed.
A marketing checklist like this can act like a scorecard to keep track of what you’ve accomplished and what still needs to get done.
For some, a simple marketing checklist oriented action plan may not be quite enough. You may need to invest a little more time and energy in creating a more detailed plan to put your ideas into action.
Consider this approach… Start by identifying the three primary desired outcomes you’d like to have in the next six months. Now for each of those desired outcomes, identify three key things that need to be accomplished in the next 90 days towards achieving the outcome.
Then take each of those three key things and break it down in to three or four tasks that need to be completed. Maybe even limit it to key tasks that should get completed in the next 30 days. Finally, go back and start putting estimated complete by dates for everything you’ve outlined.
Now you’ve got an action plan to move you forward.
2. Create A Marketing Focus Calendar
Once you’ve determined what you need to put into action, schedule them on a calendar.
One of the classic problems small businesses experience is getting nothing done because they are so overwhelmed when they look at EVERYTHING that needs to get done.
Choose a small handful of the marketing strategies and tactics that you feel best about and you think will be most productive. Decide how often you’ll implement each idea. For example… attend five networking events per month, give one presentation per quarter, send one eZine per month, and go on two potential business partner lunches per month… You get the picture.
Now look at your calendar and start writing down activities for each of the months you want to get things done. Commit to at least a couple of significant marketing activities or tactics every month.
Look over the calendar to make sure it’s balanced with a decent mix of the approaches you’ve chosen. Track all of your marketing efforts so you know what to add, change or remove from the calendar.
Map out your marketing focus calendar and hang it up on the wall by your desk. This very simple tactic can be very powerful for putting your ideas into action. The key here is that you’re getting the plan down in a format that makes you more likely to stick with working the plan.
3. Schedule Marketing Appointments
Book a regularly scheduled appointment in your calendar for yourself. One of the best ways to force yourself to put your marketing into action is to schedule a marketing appointment like you would with your best client.
Don’t kid yourself. If you want great marketing results, it takes some regular and consistent effort on your part. You can create that regular and consistent effort by scheduling time for yourself. Then when the appointment is on the calendar, don’t schedule over it.
Don’t let anyone infringe upon this time, not even your best client – except under extreme circumstances. When someone wants to book an appointment with you that overlaps this time, tell them you’ve already got something scheduled and see where their flexibility is. It’s not important that they know that the scheduling conflict is time you’ve set aside for yourself.
Hold yourself accountable for making this appointment on time every time. Make productive use of your time by turning your ideas into actionable plans and working the action plans.
I’d predict that you’ll begin looking forward to this time as you start putting ideas into action and getting greater marketing results. Ideas without action will get you nowhere, so even a little action today is a good start. Ready? Go!