How to Build a Marketing Plan for 2013

Everyone has heard the tale of the cobbler’s kids. Even though the cobbler makes shoes all day for other people, his children go barefoot because they have no shoes.

This is a pretty common scenario in service-based businesses. You spend so much time helping your clients, that you leave little room for tending to the needs of your own business.

Sound familiar?

We’re in the season where everyone is developing resolutions and goals for the year. However, many people don’t achieve their goals. Heck, most don’t make it past February.

Why?

They didn’t put a plan in place.

The same goes for your marketing efforts. You can have big ideas for what you want to accomplish this year, but without putting an action plan in place, you’ll struggle to end up where you want to be.

So, how do you do that? Here are some ideas that might help:

Review last year.

Before you do any planning for 2013, you must take a look at last year. What worked? What didn’t? What has potential, but could use improvement?

Answering these questions will help you determine where you need to spend your time this year. The stop, start and continue exercise can really help you with this.

Chart the big projects first.

Chances are good that you have a few big projects that you want to tackle this year. Maybe you want to launch or upgrade your website. Or, perhaps you want to start blogging.  Or, maybe you want to write an ebook or host a webinar this year.

Whatever you want to accomplish, write them down and prioritize them. From there, determine when you want to tackle each one.

Unless you have a large marketing team or agency to help you, I would suggest keeping this list to 3-4 items at most. Then, look at the calendar and determine when you want to tackle each item. One item a quarter can be a good way to break it up.

Then, (and this is often the most important part), break the big projects into smaller steps and develop a timeline to get it done.

Fill in smaller projects next.

There is likely a list of smaller projects or activities that have been on your to-do list forever, but never seem to get done.

This could be things like reviewing and making updates to your website, learning how to better leverage a particular social network or testing out a new software or app.

Now is the time to review those projects to determine what’s important, what can be deleted and when you are going to tackle them.

Depending on the size of the project (and your list), you can pick one a week or one a month.  Just make sure you get it on the master calendar.

Determine the resources and budget needed.

Once you have an idea of what you want to accomplish this year, you need to determine how you are going to get it done.

For each project, you need to determine if you have the expertise and staff time to handle the project internally or if you need to bring in outside help to get it done. And, a big part of this, especially for outsourcing, is setting your budget for getting these projects accomplished.

Although it can be tempting to try and do everything yourself or with your internal team, it can often be more effective and efficient if you hire a freelancer, consultant or agency to get it done. After all, that’s why many attorneys hire another attorney to do their legal work or why financial planners and accountants have someone else do their taxes and finances. Not only does this help ensure it will get done, but the outside perspective can be very beneficial.

Set aside time on your calendar.

One of the many reasons that service-based businesses turn into the cobbler is because they focus on their own business priorities last. They serve their clients and customers first and use whatever time is left for their own business.

Although serving clients is incredibly important, you must still set aside time to focus on your own business needs.

That may mean getting up earlier or setting aside an hour every day to start chipping away at your list. Or, perhaps you can carve out a larger time block once a week. Figure out what schedule works for you and then mark this on your calendar. That way, you can keep this time sacred and prevent it from getting filled up with meetings and other tasks.

* * *

Certainly, this exercise will vary largely depending on the size of your company, your marketing needs and the resources available.

However, I hope this framework will help you think through your marketing efforts for the year and help you get a plan in place. Hopefully, this will help you end 2013 as one of the rare exceptions who actually achieves their goals.

What have you done to plan your company’s marketing efforts for the year? If you haven’t put a plan in place yet, did this help you think through that exercise?

Image credit: Pranav Prakash

About Laura Click

Laura Click is founder and CEO of Blue Kite Marketing, a Nashville-based integrated marketing firm. In addition to being the lead blogger on the Blue Kite blog, Laura is a proud Mizzou alum, avid runner and dog lover. You can connect with Laura on Twitter at @lauraclick, on LinkedIn or Google Plus.

  • Brent Baldwin

    Excellent, timely advice. Laura. I especially liked the suggestion to limit your big things to three or four items. Another benefit to that is it helps you group things so a larger vision emerges. So instead of an item list being “get a blog, start using LinkedIn, talk to a consultant about a web page,” your big item could be “create a presence on the web that generates sales.”

    • http://flybluekite.com/ Laura Click

      I’m so glad you found it useful, Brent. I think what’s important to mention (that I didn’t include in the post) is that you must have smart, measurable goals and then you need build your activities and overall plan based on what will help you achieve those goals.

      But yes, as you are building out those efforts, it’s definitely important to not overcommit yourself to myriad projects that will never get finished. Pick 2-3 and make it happen!

  • http://www.craigmcbreen.com/ Craig McBreen

    Hi Laura,

    Great advice as usual! And thanks for the link love.

    • http://flybluekite.com/ Laura Click

      Sure thing, my friend!