Since you’re reading this post about a 12-month marketing plan, let’s assume this is the start of the year (regardless of the actual date on the calendar) and you’re wondering how you’re going to hit all your numbers by the end of the year. Let’s say that you’ve decided that you want to grow by X percent (maybe 10, 20, 30, 50 or 100 percent) but now you’re stumped trying to figure out how to make that all happen by the end of the year.
In order to increase the probability that someone will buy what you’re offering, or to increase the number of people who will buy, and/or to increase the number of people who will buy more frequently and at higher price points, marketing is your friend.
While sales is primarily a one-to-one activity (making it hard to scale fast), marketing is a one-to-many activity (making it an easy to scale fast). Which means that if you want to hit your numbers this year, chances are you’re going to have to become great at marketing.
So, how can you, as a business owner/entrepreneur, create a quick and easy marketing plan (not a 30-page report) that can give direction to your business over the next 12 months in order to ensure you’re hitting the numbers you want to hit? Well, here are four steps to help make that happen.
Note: the following ideas assume that you’ve already done the strategic part of creating a marketing plan (like defining your target market, creating your target market avatar, defining your competitive advantages, writing out your brand, etc.). Assuming all that’s in place, here’s what to do next.
I. Start With a 12-Month One-Page Marketing Plan Template
Since you’re working at a high level, you don’t need to create a fifteen or fifty page marketing plan. You just need a high level, one page document to guide the big marketing decisions for your company.
If you don’t have one created yet, you can download one for free by clicking here >> (My 12-Month Marketing Plan).
I’ve worked with all kinds of businesses over the years and my observation is that whenever the person at the top (Owner, CEO, President, Managing Partner, Executive Director, etc.) makes the plan too complicated very little gets done. Note: this doesn’t mean someone on your team doesn’t have a complicated detailed plan, it just means that you, as the person at the top of your business, don’t need to create a complicated plan.
You want something that you can glance at quickly and immediately know what ought to be happening, in which months, throughout the year.
So pull out your 12-month one-page marketing template.
II. Put All the Big Items On Your Calendar First
This seems so obvious I shouldn’t have to mention it but because so few companies do this, I’ve included it here. Typically what happens is a certain month arrives (let’s say May) and then someone will say, “Hey, who did the marketing for X (in this case, maybe Mother’s Day)?” In other words, most businesses market in reactive mode and typically only act a few weeks out from an event. However, if you do this step ahead of time (let’s in January), you’ll be thinking months ahead of time instead of days and/or weeks.
So, once you have your template out, the first thing you want to do is write out what you believe to be the big items or seasons for your business. For example, if you’re an accountant, you know that January – April is tax season. Write that in. It’s hard to sell tax services in August. Easy to sell in January – April.
If your company attends a couple of big vendor fairs/conferences/trade shows, write those in. If you have some big annual sales, write those in. If you’re planning to launch a new product or service, write those dates in.
Whatever you do, make sure all the big items are on your calendar first.
III. Work Backwards to Make Sure Your Big Items Get Taken Care Of Before Anything Else
It would be nice if every business got the same amount of business every day/every week—that would be incredibly stress releasing, wouldn’t it? However, almost every business grows on a few days or a few weeks per year. For example, in my old pastoral days, we probably did 70% of our church’s growth on five Sundays per year (and we grew 30.5% per year for over a decade).
The shame then is in letting day-to-day activities and/or other activities crowd out your business’ ability to focus on those few key dates and events. Everything is not created equal.
So, if you’re launching a new product in May, when do you need to start working on your marketing campaign for your May launch? Chances are … in January (or February at the latest). In light of that, you might write into your 12 month plan items like the following
- January – Create marketing plan for May launch
- February – Complete copy for marketing pieces. Get testimonials.
- March – Design and print marketing materials for May launch. Line up strategic partnerships. Provide copy for them.
- April – Create videos and website materials for launch. Prepare ad campaigns.
- May – Launch new product
Remember, you’re not writing everything in. Just the big activities that will ensure than your big items get the results you’re looking for.
IV. Fill in Your Calendar With Your Other Marketing Activities
Remember, there are ten marketing strategies you can choose from to market your business
- Referral strategies
- Networking strategies
- Keep in Touch strategies
- Writing strategies
- Speaking strategies
- Advertising strategies
- Online strategies
- PR strategies
- Social Media strategies
- JV/Partnership strategies
You don’t need to use all of them. Just pick the ones that work best for you and your clients/customers and then block them in on your calendar. Remember, this is a one-page, high-level marketing plan. So, don’t put everything down, just the main items.
For example, you might want to run a three-month “Best Buyer” strategy using direct mail and a webinar with a phone call afterwards. Write that in for each of the three months you’re using that campaign.
Or you may want to write out a content strategy for the year. For example, let’s say you’re an attorney and you want to write a blog post that you distribute to your list each month. You could write out the titles for your twelve posts so that, in January, you already know what you’re going to write for the entire year. How cool would that be? No more sitting in front of your laptop wondering, “What should I write about this month?” and promptly being distracted by anything other than answering that question.
Or maybe you’re a realtor and you want to target first time home buyers using a speaking strategy, “ How to Stop Throwing Money Down the Drain and Finally Buy That House You’ve Been Dreaming About.” When would you like to do those seminars? Whatever those months are, write them in.
Now, obviously, you can create a much more complicated marketing plan that this one. You can add steps. You can add metrics. You can add accountabilities. You can add copy, etc. But as a business owner/entrepreneur, the first thing you need is a high-level road map that you can look at each month to ensure that you and your business are doing the marketing activities that will allow you to hit (and hopefully exceed) your revenue numbers for the year. And if that’s what you want, this is the quickest and easiest way I know of to create a simple, one page 12-month marketing plan.
- Start with a 12-month marketing plan template
- Put all of your big items on your calendar first
- Work backwards to make sure your big items get taken care of before anything else
- Fill in your calendar with your other marketing activities
If you just do those four things, you’ll probably be ahead of 95% of your small business peers. And, more importantly, you’ll be setting yourself up for a great next 12-months!
To your accelerated success!