Smart business owners know that planning is the key to higher profits. But creating a long-term plan doesn’t come naturally for many people. You have to not only have a vision for where you want your business to go, but you also have to know what you need to create (and when), be able to assign the tasks to your VA(Virtual Assistant) or other team members, work in some additional promotions for complementary products, and still leave room for last minute offers.
Whew! No wonder we get so overwhelmed when it comes to planning.
The “seat of your pants” business plan seems so much easier! And less profitable.
So let’s get planning and make your business as easy (and profitable) as possible!
Before you can clearly see what direction you want to take, you need to look back at where you’ve been. You’ll find lots of useful information in your stats and sales figures for the past 12 months, and you might even discover that you did much better than you initially thought.
If you has set goals for last year – and you should have, let’s review.
What milestones did you hope to hit? How did your results stack up against those goals?
For example, you might want to look at things such as:
- Overall sales figures
- Sales figures by product
- Traffic numbers
- Social media growth
- Mailing list subscribers
- Affiliate sales figures
Even if you didn’t set a goal in each of these areas, make a note of where you are right now, so that you can measure your progress more accurately as you work on your future marketing plan.
As you’re looking at these numbers, do any of them surprise you? Are you pleased with your list growth, but disappointed with your Facebook reach? Did you sell more of that product than you thought you would, or earn less in affiliate commissions than you expected?
For each item that surprises you in some way, ask yourself what you could have done differently, or what may have caused the difference. These answers will help you set more realistic goals for next time.
Now, it’s easy to become overwhelmed.
Keep in mind, though, that you don’t have to tackle everything at once. In fact, you’ll be much more successful if you focus only on the next few weeks.
Keep the big picture in mind, but when it comes to where you spend your time, only be worrying about what’s coming up in the next 45 days.
This gives you plenty of time to finish up any product that’s not quite ready for sale, plan a launch, and get all the content in place that you’ll need.
Still feeling overwhelmed?
Even the most well-planned and organized marketing calendar won’t get the work done for you. Now is the time to hand off those tasks you don’t want to or cannot do. Using your task list, make a new list that includes only the tasks you must do. These might include things such as writing your emails, recording videos and podcasts, and intake calls for new clients.
The rest can—and should—be outsourced.
Keep the Momentum Going
Even the most well planned marketing calendar won’t produce results without ongoing care and feeding. Schedule time each week to:
- Review tasks assigned to your team
- Review tasks assigned to you (consider hiring a project manager if you’re bad at personal accountability)
- Review current promotions from your colleagues, contemporaries, and competitors: Do any of these fit with your existing calendar?
- Look ahead to the next few weeks to spot the holes in your schedule
In addition, you’ll want to do a more thorough review each month, which will include:
- Your next 45 days of planning for profit
- Scheduling time to update/create products and programs
- Review your long-term calendar for changes and updates
- Review new technology related to your market (Do you need to move things in your calendar to accommodate that hot new social network?)
Remember, your plan is a living document. It’s not written in stone. You can (and should) rearrange it to fit your current needs, new offers from others, and in answer to feedback and suggestions you receive from your customers or clients.
I’m Lori Winslow, the Organized Solopreneur. I help solopreneurs get their business and their life organized. To get started, pick up a copy of my Top 10 Ways to Get Your Solopreneur Business Organized.