How to Put your Business on Steroids... it's Easier Than You Think

Yes, it's January and the usual time of year to reflect on the past and dream of better things to come. But you've got to ask yourself - what's going to be different this year? 
Are you stuck in the "same old... same old" rut? Einstein said, "Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results." So if you really want to put your business on steroids and create the stellar business year you've always dreamed of, I encourage you to get your pen paper out or your computer humming because there's no time like the present to get a Marketing Plan started!
Did I hear a groan? Yes, a marketing  plan! Its common knowledge that a plan is a good, well actually, great idea but you're not alone if it's one of those projects you just never quite get to.
Recently I was speaking to a group of owners and found that only about 10% had completed a marketing plan for 2011. When asked why not, their replies ranged from "not having enough time to do it, don't know where to start, it's too complex, didn't use the last one, to not sure what goes into the plan".  With responses like this I'm not surprised at how few business owners have a marketing plan -- so if you're one of them - you're in the majority.  
But that doesn't get you off the hook. 
If you hate writing up plans. Here's another cliché for you  "if you 'fail to plan' then you're actually 'planning to fail".  Now that's a sobering thought - no one sets out in business to fail. 
I want to make one point clear - I'm not talking about the 30+page plan you would create if you looking for financing or starting a new business and assessing it's viability. Instead, I'm suggesting that you create a simple plan outlining what your plan of action will be to increase your sales and use as your road map for the year. 
So to help you get stared here's my simple 'street smart' format you can use... it's really not as complex as you might think. 
Vision: What's your vision for your business - why are you in business? What's the primary reason your business exists. This about what your ideal business is.
Target Market / Niche: Who specifically is your ideal client? The more specific and narrow you can define this, the better. Consider geographic, demographic, psychographic factors.  
Benefits of your service:  What are you really selling / how do your clients benefit from you products or services.
Objectives / Goals: Describe in detail specific accomplishments you're striving to reach. Here are some categories to consider -- revenue, profitability, new products, market expansion, operations, personnel, debt reduction or other important goals that are critical to your success. Make sure your objectives are specific and can be measured. Objectives are a great tool for focus, accountability and assessing if you're on track.
Marketing Strategies:  Which strategies will you use to achieve your goals? This is the "how" piece of the plan. Basic marketing strategies generally fall into the following categories: direct contact, networking, referral partners, speaking, writing, promotional events, advertising - and yes, there's an online versions for each of these.
Marketing Tactics: These are specific actions implemented for each strategy with specify specific tasks and deadlines.
For example, if you had the objective / goal of increasing your database, you could choose networking strategy as a means to achieve this. But now you'll need to map out the tactics - a simple networking plan could have the following components:  Research networking venues, join a network association, develop networking skills (conversation starters, fine tune self introduction), create follow up system, craft templated emails, invest into a CRM system to manage contacts, attend 3 events each month, develop a signature article etc.
It's important to consider things you need to 'do' as well as, things (or tools) you need to 'create' to successfully accomplish the strategy. Remember to estimate timeframe and budget consideration as well.
Picking your marketing strategies and fully mapping out the tactics is the key to your plan (and success) so don't scrimp on effort or leave it with vague and poorly thought out ideas.
Now the fun begins - you have a simple road map covering:
  • · 'why' you're in business, 
  • · 'who' you serve,
  • · 'what' you want to accomplish 
  • · 'how' you'll do it, 
  • · 'when' - complete with timeframe and budget requirements.
See... it's not as complex as you might of thought. So don't waste another minute... take a few hours and map out your plan and I guarantee you'll have a more successful year - but of course, only if you... work the plan!
Oh yes... one more thing - once you have the plan created it doesn't go in the bottom desk drawer - use it as a tool and refer to frequently. And of course, make sure to track your progress.