As we approach the end of 2012, it is time to review the year’s business successes, challenges and (dare I say it?) failures. If we want to make a difference to the growth opportunities we have available in 2013, then it is critical that we evaluate what worked, what didn’t, and where we didn’t pursue opportunities that we should have. From that assessment, we can develop a more informed plan for the coming year that will be more likely to succeed than a plan made from hopes, dreams and wishes.
So, let’s get out the old 2012 business and marketing plans. Oh, oh…Never got around to putting those plans down on paper? Well, here’s your first lesson for 2013, put together a written business and marketing plan now for next year.
Or, did you develop those plans, print them out and then shove them in a file folder never to be looked at again? This is also a problem – your marketing plan, especially, is a living document that needs to be reviewed at least on a quarterly basis. You may need to make adjustments to it as you see how successfully you’ve put into action certain parts of it, or possibly tweak it to adjust for changes in the economic climate or an unexpected opportunity or threat to your business. Lesson learned for next year’s plan!
So, let’s assume that you have a written plan, that you’ve worked that plan over the course of the last year, made adjustments to it as necessary and are now ready to use that plan as a base for next year’s plan. Let’s go:
- Complete a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis to determine what may have changed within your business as well as with the environment in which you conduct business.
- Confirm that your target market(s) remain the same.
- Look at what new marketing tactics and tools are available that were not before, or that you didn’t have the resources to take advantage of in prior years.
- Review your financials to see how where your marketing activities need to be strengthened to boost your bottom line.
- Based on the results of 1 – 4 above, review this year’s plan to see if any of the goals are still relevant for next year. If yes, then carry them over to the new marketing plan, making the necessary adjustments to the expectations, timeline and strategies.
- Determine what your new goals are for the coming year – remember to make them Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.
Yes, it is a somewhat simplified version of what is involved in putting together a successful marketing plan, but, if you complete the basic steps (as outlined above), then work the plan throughout the coming year, you will see positive business growth as a result.