The purpose of a simple marketing plan.

trail map by krupp

Why plan?

Nope, I don’t mean this as a rhetorical question. Just think about the amount of paper, time, and brain power wasted on plans destined for drawers and folders, never to be seen again. To save your superb marketing plan from that unfortunate fate, get clear on the why first.

The purpose of planning is not to make a plan.

The purpose is to give you something that actually increases your chances of realizing your intention, and doing it well, with fewer setbacks and detours. It should compel and inspire you to take action every time you look at it, and make it easier to stay on track and follow through because the hard decisions have already been made.

Think of your marketing plan as your trail map – if you have one, you won’t have to bushwhack your way through the shrubbery, hoping you’ll get somewhere.

You’ll also notice the milestones along the way and know when it’s a good time to take a break and when you need to keep pushing.

The case for simplicity in marketing.

I have three main reasons for keeping your marketing plan simple:

One, chances are you’ll get going sooner. When you’re working on an elaborate 279-page plan, it’s tempting to go down the rabbit hole of endless fine-tuning. A solid, simple marketing plan will give you enough direction and inspiration to get going, and not overwhelm you with details and assumptions.

Two, it leaves room for flexibility and adjustments. If the conditions change, or if you discover new avenues you didn’t even have on your radar, it’s easier to adjust a lean, simple marketing plan than a very detailed one (also, it decreases your work-for-naught risk.)

Three, you’re more likely to stay focused. When you stick to the essentials, there are less details and options left to confuse and distract you. Better do two or three things consistently, intentionally, and with style, than 56 half-ass.

Up next: How to draft a simple marketing plan.

Stay tuned – I’m working on a little something for you to help you take the DIY route to marketing planning and design your own trail map. Leave me a note if you’d like me to send it your way when it’s hatched.

How do you stay on track?

Path by Hockadilly - Staying on Track

So you have some marketing goals for the summer. Maybe even a marketing plan (yeah!), or at least a list of a couple specific actions you want to take. How do you make sure you’ll stay on track and be successful? Here are two simple ideas:

1. Schedule DIY check-ins.

Use a tool you already like and are familiar with to schedule regular check-ins with yourself – your Google calendar, your planner, Highrise, a reminder on your phone, or your wall calendar. Plan for 30-45 uninterrupted minutes.

How often? From my experience, bi-weekly is the sweet spot – but of course you can experiment with the frequency. During the check-in, answer these four questions for yourself:

– What have I accomplished?
– What fell off the radar?
– Do I need to adjust my plan to make room for new goals and priorities?
– What goals will I focus on for the next two weeks – and what do I need to reach them?

2. Find an ally.

I can guarantee you, you’re not the only one struggling with the temptation of detours and distractions (you probably already knew that).

Find someone who is also pursuing one or more goals this summer, and support each other. You might send each other quick check-in texts or emails, share resources and techniques you find helpful, listen and bounce ideas off each other, cheer each other on, and also remind each other that the sky won’t crash on you if that newsletter goes out a week later than planned.

Since we’re talking about sharing resources, here is one I love: Zen Habits, Leo Babauta’s blog on motivation, simplicity, cultivating positive habits, and more.

I’m curious to hear what works for you.

{Photo by hockadilly on Flickr.}

Everyday Marketing.

Bonfire by natalielucier
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that my approach to kickstarting your marketing is all about planting seeds and sparking connections. But of course that’s not where it ends.

Your seeds need a constant flow of water and nutrients to grow into a strong plant. Your spark can only turn into an all-night-long bonfire if you give it oxygen and something to burn.

Here is what that looks like for your marketing:

Pick a time of day when you can set aside just 15-30 minutes. Every day,* use that time to do just these four things:

1. Reach out to someone.

Maybe there is someone you admire, or someone you’d love to have as your ally, or a blog you’d be thrilled to see your business featured on, or that person you see at the coop every week… Say hi, introduce yourself, and see if you can create a spark.

2. Thank someone.

our business partner who held down the fort for you when you needed a break. The client you really enjoyed working with. The student who brought a friend to your class last week. Someone who offered a much needed dose of honest feedback. Pick up the phone, write an email, or send a tweet.

3. Touch base with someone.

Is there a client you haven’t seen in a while? Time to send out your next newsletter? Ask how your people have been doing, and give them a little update about what’s been happening in your space.

4. Write something about what you do.

This can be anything from a journal entry to a website headline or Facebook post. Practice telling people about what you do, and look for words and examples that resonate with them and with yourself.

Over the next weeks and months, watch your marketing get stronger – and easier, too.

*Yes, you may make an exception on especially crazy days. Not on averagely crazy days though.