One week? One month? One year? Or not at all?

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If I was to ask you how far ahead do you plan your marketing, what would you say?

Do you splutter in to your morning coffee and stammer “Plan? Do I have to plan my marketing?”

Or do you merrily dig out out a your inch thick marketing plan that’s buried under piles of paperwork on your desk?

Planning ahead does sound rather dull, especially if you really don’t have an idea on what you should be doing.  Having a neatly tabulated marketing plan (printed in different colours depending on the activity so it’s easy to read!) that you don’t seem to have time to carry out is actually just as bad as making it up once in a blue moon, when you panic about your pipeline.

It seems that the main reason most of you don’t have a marketing plan is that you are just plain scared of the enormity of it all.  The 20 page template that your friendly bank manager (do they exist any more?!) gave to you when you first started out, just felt too overwhelming to complete.

And as for coming up with your 5 year Business Goals (launch first franchise, be hiring at least 5 associates, sat on the BBC Breakfast sofa …) it can feel, well … a bit tricky!

But if you don’t plan ahead then you are guaranteed a rough ride.  Fail to plan and you plan to fail may be a cliche but when it comes to running your own business, this can’t be ignored.

So what do you do?

The simplest and easiest way to think about your future marketing activity is to answer these 3 questions:

1.  Where are you now?

Be realistic about your current business – know what’s making you a profit, know where the clients you are attracting are coming from, know what it is you love to do … and what you hate too.

2.  Where do you want to be going?

If 5 years is just too big a goal for you, can you think about where you want to be this time next year?  What one project (one project at a time, please!) do you want to see working for you?  What type of client do you want to be working more with?

Be specific.  Be realistic.  Do set yourself a date in the future you would like this to happen by.

3.  How are you going to get there?

This is the part that seems to fox most of you, to be honest.  The sheer overwhelm by the number of things you could be doing.  Yes, live virtual events such as webinars and teleconference calls work.  Yes, Facebook is a top business marketing tool.  Yes, you could be speaking up and down the country.  Yes, creating your own LinkednIn Group is perfect for developing a community of your own.

But to do it all? In the next 3 months? Crazy!

One project at a time, remember!  What if I gave you permission to focus on just one marketing activity and got that to work before embracing anything new?  What if I told you that you weren’t allowed to do any other marketing activities until you got the first one to work?

I bet you would start seeing results far more quickly when you’ve just got one thing to do.

Keep it simple.  The less choice you have got on what you can do, the more likely you will be to get on and do it.

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