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I am directionally challenged. For whatever reason, I often find getting from Point A to Point B difficult when I am going to a new destination. I took care of this (somewhat!) when I bought a car equipped with a navigation system. Thanks to this handy tool, I continue to save a lot of time, money and aggravation. I can’t imagine life without one.
When it comes to marketing your business or nonprofit organization, do you have a similar tool that can guide you to achieve your goals? Or do you simply react and hope for the best? If your marketing has not been yielding the results you want, make 2016 the year when you develop a strong marketing plan. How well you market your business or organization will have a big impact on where you find yourself a year from now.
If you have never written a marketing plan or if it seems like a monumental task, think of it in three steps — think, act and evaluate. Focus on developing a practical plan that can be consistently executed. Write it in a way that makes the most sense to you. The important thing is to think about your business goals and how your marketing can support them, define the actions you must take to reach your goals and hold yourself accountable.
- Think big. Use your 2016 business goals to guide the development of your marketing goals. Be realistic. Choose three to five marketing goals that can make a big difference to your business.
- Think back. Experience is the best teacher so start developing your marketing plan for 2016 by looking back at 2015. What marketing strategies worked and which ones didn’t? What strategies deserve additional effort and funding?
- Quantify objectives. Once you have established your goals, develop realistic objectives that you can quantify and evaluate. For example, if your goal is to increase your prospect base, one objective might be to increase your newsletter database by 20 percent by the end of the year. Be realistic. Challenge yourself but at the same time, don’t make your objectives unattainable.
- Develop action steps. Once you understand your goals and what needs to be done, go one step further and determine the actual tasks you need to accomplish to support your objectives. For example, if your objective is to increase your newsletter database, a task might be to regularly share links to your newsletter on social media sites.
- Develop a timeline. Once you determine what needs to be done, develop a realistic timeline with enough detail that you know when something needs to be done. Assign responsibility for the task to keep everyone accountable.
- Review your progress. Periodically, review your progress and make changes as needed. The key is to hold yourself accountable but at the same time to be flexible enough that your marketing plan can be adapted to changing conditions.