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Start with a Plan

How to create a winning marketing strategy

We all need a Plan

“Failing to plan is planning to Fail.”
How many times have we all heard that little gem of wisdom during our working lives?
Experience has shown me that the opposite is also true: creating and executing a strong plan guarantees success.
It’s how my team and I turned a $2m failing business into a $12m success story.
Create an ambitious goal. Understand your customers and their own personal objectives. Devise a clear plan to achieve success on all sides.
A genuine win-win outcome.
But you need a good plan…

Check your plan before you start

I’m sure you’ve seen the story of the guy who set out to take his boat from the River Medway to Southampton with only an AA road map to follow.
He had a plan!
It involved following the coast, keeping the land on the right until he arrived at his destination.
He was rescued by the RNLI after motoring around the Isle of Sheppey for 2 days and running out of fuel…
It pays to validate your plan before getting under way.

Don’t get blown onto the rocks

When you start to think about a marketing campaign to increase your business, you’ll want to be sure you have a sound plan.

There are many things to consider:

  • What are your objectives for the business
  • Who is your ideal customer
  • Are you looking for new customers or for returning customers
  • Which messages will really strike a chord with them
  • What’s your best method of engaging with them
  • What should be your first step
Before you start spending money on your marketing campaigns, make sure you won’t end up going round in circles, getting nowhere.

Use a proven planning system

Now I’m a fanatical sailor and an inveterate planner.
I’ve developed a structure for my sailing plans which make them simple to create and easy to follow.
Having a standard format for my plan means nothing ever gets missed. I can always find the right information for each situation.
My system records our start and finish for each leg of the trip, the major waypoints along the way and any hazards we might encounter.
I also create contingencies in case of unforseen circumstances. I want to know my best option if a storm blows up from nowhere...
I always share the plan with my crew before we depart so everyone knows our objectives and their role in getting there.

Creating your marketing plan for growth

Like me, when building your marketing plan, you should use a planning system too.
The old adage of Market – Message – Media makes a great starting point for your planning system.
First, understand your customers and their needs. Develop a message that shows how you will help them achieve their objectives. Choose the marketing channel that will best deliver your message.
Involve your team so you’re all heading in the same direction.
As you might have guessed, I have developed an easy-to-follow planning system that I use with my clients.
I’ve created a document for you to download that takes you step by step through the process I use to create a winning marketing plan.

Implement your Plan

By now you’ll be ready to create your marketing plan.
After that, implementation is everything!
Remember the story told by Steven Covey in “7 Habits of Highly Successful People”?
He placed a number of large pebbles in a jar and asked his students if the jar was full.
When they said, “Yes”, he then dropped smaller stones in the gaps between the pebbles.
Then some fine gravel. And finally, he still had room to add sand to the jar.
The large pebbles represent the important steps in your plan. The sand represents the everyday tasks that can eat up your time.
If you fill the jar with sand, there’s no room for the pebbles…

Executing your Plan

Once you have your plan, break down the steps into manageable tasks.

  • Allocate time for the critical steps, before your time is eaten away
  • Create deadlines
  • Outsource or delegate parts of your plan to achieve your goals quicker
  • Measure your success, review and refine your plan
Without a plan, you may reach your destination - but you can be sure that it won't be by the most direct and efficient route.
As you begin to implement your marketing campaign, remember the old adage:
Plan the Work and Work the Plan.
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