Thursday, December 31, 2009

3 Steps to Your New Marketing Plan: Step 2 - Aligning Strategies with Goals and Getting Organized

Welcome to Step 2 in my "miniseries" on developing a marketing plan for the new year. In Step 1, "Freeing the Monkey Mind," I described the most important step in getting the ball rolling for your plan, which involves freeing yourself from the editor side of your personality for an hour or so, so you can jot down your wish list of goals and projects. The idea was not to worry about timelines, budgets, complexity of projects, or any feasability issues. Hopefully, you found the worksheet at the bottom of the post helpful in providing a basic structure for your plan. Maybe you even found some surprises, and some goals you wanted to reach without even knowing it until the moment you wrote them down....good!

Now it's on to Step 2, where it's time to revise, revisit, and revamp, so that your plan will become a realistic blueprint you can use as a foundation for action in the new year. This is basically done by taking a more critical eye to your first draft, and aligning strategies with goals, as well as editing your goals to make sure they meet your objectives.

You will notice in the photo above that shows the second draft of my plan, that I added in red at the top:
"Goals," and that I added: "Sustainability; Income; Learning; Visibility; Community." Note that "Income" was not in and of itself the only goal, as I know that doing what I love and am passionate about - helping others with their communications - is just as important, because if I don't like what I am doing it won't yield the productivity and results I need to sustain myself.

Next, I took the rough notes I had from Step 1, and reworked them into a more organized structure that led to the following categories:
Networking and Education (personal growth)
Note: I also separated free tools, activities, and events from those with a fee, so as to remind myself that new projects, events, and tools cost money, and that budgeting ahead of time was key! Items that cost money, for example, include conferences, courses, books and other materials, memberships, certifications, and also include the cost of doing business, such as office supplies, travel, mailings, phone, etc. Free tools include programs I knew about and some of which I will try, including: Animoto, webinars, craigslist, social media, blogging, video, and others.

I separated the 2 kinds of technology, practical and future, into 2 categories, as follows:
Technology Ongoing - this means tools I need everyday to run my business, such as blogging platforms, social networking shortcuts, etc.
Technology New (to learn)

Obviously since this is a business, I had to write a separate column for strictly Income Generating items, whether they be through social media, informational products and online marketing, client services, etc.
The tools and strategies are flexible and can be adjusted over time, but it's important to get the core ideas into your plan. You will notice under 3B, that I further outlined Informational Products into specifics, such as e-books, a boutique idea I have had for a while, an autoresponder course I have also wanted to try out, and other ideas I had for expanding my services and client offerings.

Under the last item, Social Networking, I was already familiar with the tools, so I basically added strategy notes that were very specific and tied into platforms I was already using. For example, I already have a Facebook FAN page, so my goal for the year is to increase my number of fans. In the case of any new programs I wanted to try, such as Squidoo, I placed a question mark beside it to highlight that it was new. There was some cross referencing here between the New Technology section and Social Networks, but I allowed myself some crossover.

After revising "Step 2," I was pleased that I had a more formal structure then in the first draft, and that I had identified key areas of the plan I needed to move forward. I was also OK with eliminating some items that either did not fit into my ultimate goals, or were simply too much for one year. For example, podcasting will most likely have to wait, as it's more important to me now to learn screencasting and increase my subscribers.

You may find some of these categories useful as you refine your plan, but of course it will need to be customized for your business goals and needs.

So, to sum up Step 2:
1. Review your first draft and establish firm categories and a format that will provide structure to your goals.
Systemically go through each item in your first draft and add it to your new framework, making sure that it meets with your objectives.
2. Make sure that all your goals meet your objectives, and eliminate any extra projects that you don't realistically feel you can accomplish
3. Start thinking about your budget, and put an asterisk next to any new endeavor or item in your plan that costs money. Leave the task in your plan for now, but later on when you do your budgeting, you may have to eliminate some items on your wish list.
4. Plan on spending extra time on your income generating ideas, as this is your bread and butter, after all. Are there ideas you've seen others do, that you'd like to try? Is this the year you're going to write your first e-book, or launch your blog, and can they be monetized? What kind of products can you create that your subscribers or audience want, and how do they want to receive them? Is this the year you're going to try public speaking, or coaching?

Try your hand at Step 2, and good luck on your second draft. In my Step 3 post on Saturday, I'll discuss finalizing your marketing plan on the computer, some tips for taking on new and possibly scary projects, and allowing for changes and updates to your plan. See you then!

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