Summary:

In last week’s post, we began brainstorming some possibilities for marketing your business. This week, we’re going to discuss a simple technique that can help you turn those possibilities into a marketing plan that’s easy to create, implements and maintain.

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In last week’s post, we began brainstorming possibilities for marketing your small business. This week, we’re going to discuss a couple of tools that can help you create, implement and maintain a marketing plan.

By this point, you’ve developed a list of ideas for potential marketing tactics, and you’re now ready to begin weeding through them to find those that you think are most likely to work for you.

Tools to Help You Plan Your Marketing

When you begin brainstorming the possibilities for promoting your business, things can start to get overwhelming and confusing. It’s a good idea to find a way to track and organize your options and then begin prioritizing them into a plan of attack.

One of my favorite tools for this kind of brainstorming is mind mapping tools like bubbl.us. I use a mind mapping system from Todoodlist, which is what I used for the sample plan included below.

I begin by putting my business name as the central box, and I then add my options for marketing around it like spokes on a wheel. This gives me a full overview of the possibilities and allows me to move them around into a logical order.

Some of the marketing tactics you select might already be in the works, like blogging or sending out a monthly newsletter. I like to distinguish those by color so that I know I need to do them on a recurring basis (for this illustration, I used blue for recurring tasks). I then add related tasks to those tactics in a lighter shade of the same color.

The next thing you’ll want to add are all the new possibilities you have for marketing your business. I begin by adding those in all the same color (yellow). At this point, just add them all, and you can narrow them down later. If there are steps that need to be completed in order to set up any of the given tactics, add them as connected steps under the task so that you’ll know what needs to be done to get started, and so that you can organize all those stray notes and ideas into actionable steps.

Then begin narrowing your options by eliminating those that are not well-suited for your situation or business, require more resources (time, money, people) to get off the ground than you currently have available, or that you otherwise think are not a good fit at this point. If you want to keep them for future use, change their color to something less prominent (like gray), and that way, you can pull them into your plan down the road.

For the remaining tactics, select those that you want to implement right away and that will work alongside the recurring tactics you already do. Denote those with a new color (red). You should be left with:

  • Your current, in-progress marketing tactics (blue),
  • The new marketing tactics that you will begin implementing now (red),
  • The new marketing tactics that you will begin implementing soon (yellow), and
  • The someday/maybe tactics that you want to hold off on for a while (gray).

Implementing Your New Marketing Plan

Now that you have an easy-to-follow chart that encompasses your entire marketing plan, you should be able to quickly refer to it on a daily basis and begin carrying out the strategy and tactics you’ve developed for your business.

I always start by running through my current, in-progress tactics (blue) in a clockwise fashion (I organize them by priority and/or frequency).

Once I get through those tasks, I begin with the next-in-line priority tasks and tactics (red). Ideally, there should only be one open tactic and one open task under any given tactic,  so that you stay focused and moving the top priority elements of your plan forward. As you complete tasks, delete them. As you integrate new tactics into your ongoing plan, change them to recurring (blue), and then select your next tactic to be bumped up and integrated (for this example, “PR/Media” would be next in line).

In essence, you want your entire plan to be straightforward and to provide you with an obvious and visual plan of attack. When you open this plan, for instance, you would know to start with the recurring tasks (post your blog entry for the day, write/publish any guest posts or your newsletter, and do some online networking). Then you would move on to the marketing tactic you’re trying to employ next (your podcast), which means your next step is to decide on its format. Using this illustration, go to blue first (recurring), red second (to integrate now), yellow third (next-in-line priority), and then gray if you decide to use those tactics (someday/maybe).

By creating this kind of plan, you’re able to avoid over-committing or getting sidetracked mid-stream, and it allows you to remain focused and consistent, while still being able to explore other options and remain current and relevant. You’ll have a clear plan of attack at the start of each day that allows you to see your progress and move your business forward.

Good luck with your marketing!

What tools and techniques do you use for planning and implementing your marketing plan?

Photo by Flickr user @boetter, licensed under CC 2.0

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