The constant struggle to produce marketing campaigns and to fulfill the promises you have made to customers makes it difficult to spend much time planning. But the only true shortcut to success is planning.
Once you have completed your planning, you’ll be better able to stay on task, monitor your results and implement new ideas that may come up during the year. Without a planning calendar, it’s easy to get distracted by a great new idea or a sudden emergency and forget about your real priorities.
Planning doesn’t have to be a long, ugly process. Instead, here is a four-hour planning success template. Use a wall calendar so it’s easy to see the entire year at a glance. In one afternoon, you can create your operations plan for 2015. Set aside just four hours to work through this easy step-by-step process, and you’ll have the shortcut to success for 2016.
1:00 – 1:30 p.m.
A Candid Review of 2015
One of the most important parts of planning for 2016 is to reflect on the year that has just passed. Open your 2015 calendar and review your activities for the year. Take a look at each month for two minutes or so. Write down a couple of successful activities from each month that you want to repeat in 2016. Also consider the activities that generated disappointing results so you can avoid them in 2016.
1:30 – 2:00 p.m.
Create Your Business Targets
Before you can plot out your year, you have to give careful consideration to where you want to be when the year ends.
Determine your revenue and customer acquisition goals for the year. How many sales do you want to make to new customers? If you have multiple products, write down the anticipated sales for each one. Also, how much money do you want to make this year? Chances are, most of that has to come from profit on backend sales to existing customers. Better to know your earnings goals in advance so you can plan activities during the year to generate that revenue.
These are all difficult questions to answer; do the best you can and feel free to revise the numbers as you go.
You’ve worked for an hour, and your calendar is still blank. Twenty-five percent of your time is up, and you have “nothing” to show for your effort. While it may look like you haven’t accomplished anything, setting your goals now will make 2016 a lot more successful. Although you haven’t yet planned a single event or activity, you’ll be better off for the time you have spent reviewing the past year and creating your business targets.
2:00 – 2:20 p.m.
As you run your company, it’s easy to become focused on the operational deadlines. It’s rare for a prospective customer to call to complain that you haven’t sent him or her any marketing this month. Since people who aren’t customers aren’t in your face complaining, it’s easy to forget about them. But they are the most important. No matter how loyal your customers are today, eventually they won’t be your customers. It is critical to add new customers every month so you can maintain and increase your business.
In the last planning step, you listed your customer acquisition goals for each of your programs. Now you need to outline the marketing work for the year to generate those members. For each month, map out customer acquisition offers, events and marketing campaigns. The key is to make sure you continue your customer acquisition efforts throughout the entire year.
2:30 – 3:00 p.m.
Sales to Existing Customers
As your business grows, you’ll discover customer acquisition increases in cost. Perhaps this year if you spent $36,800.00 on a marketing campaign, you could get 420 new customers. In 2016, you may discover that same $36,800.00 delivers only 303 new customers. These increasing costs require you to focus a lot of attention on selling additional products and services to your existing members.
Plan activities that will generate additional revenue from your existing customers. Use the number you determined as your annual profit target to map out the necessary backend programs to achieve your goal.
3:00 – 3:20 p.m.
Once you acquire a customer, the most important thing you can do is to keep your promises. If your marketing told the customer you would deliver a product that would solve a particular problem, you better deliver that product. Providing high-quality products helps you retain customers longer, makes them want to buy more and encourages them to upgrade to higher-level coaching programs.
Map out the activities you need to do to deliver on your promises. Outline any ongoing deadlines. Also include time for product revisions.
3:20 – 3:40 p.m.
Take a few minutes to note any administrative improvements you want to make during the year. Planning for them makes it easier to execute your marketing because your momentum won’t be interrupted by emergencies that could have been avoided.
Do you need to add people to your team? Do you have a dashboard to monitor your business? Are your employment policies up-to-date? Do you need to create some educational materials for your team members so they have a better understanding of your goals and activities to help them do their jobs? Do you have scripts to handle in-bound customer calls? Do problem vendors need to be replaced? Do you need to set up an investment program to maximize cash you receive from your business?
These activities need to be planned out for the year to make sure you allocate time to complete them. There is no sense worrying about them or feeling guilty because you don’t get them all done. Plan some time each month during the year to get a few of these items completed. By the end of the year, you’ll be a lot better off than if you had tried to fit them in as you went along.
3:40 – 4:00 p.m.
Add Date Commitments
Jot down any conferences or seminars you would like to attend in 2015. Look for conferences within your niche that you should attend. Plus, this is a good time to note events you’ve wanted to attend but haven’t found time for in the past.
4:00 – 4:30 p.m.
Big Picture Planning
Take a quick look at that list of 2015’s successes and disappointments you created in the first phase of your planning. Are there any successes from 2015 that need to be included in your calendar for 2016? Are there any disappointments from 2015 repeated on your 2016 calendar that need to be removed?
Also, look at the work distribution. Did you load up too much work in any given month? Are travel commitments reasonable to maintain your workload? Are there ways to redistribute activities to make projects easier?
Look at the year. Are there ways to move activities around for efficiently and to make sure you don’t create impossible deadlines for yourself?
4:30 – 5:00 p.m.
Update Your Personal Calendar
Open your personal calendar and put all of the dates and work you mapped out on the wall into your personal calendar. If you are running your info-business in addition to a job or another business you operate, plan around the work you have to do for that company.
But go through and set aside appointments with yourself to make sure you have the appropriate time to execute your business needs. Save some time for other activities that may pop up as you go along. Something always comes up unexpectedly, so give yourself several hours of flexibility per week at this stage of your planning.
Shortcut to Success in 2016
While it’s good to have your planning calendar up where you can see it, you may not want it on your wall all year long. If not, set aside an hour or two each month to pull out your calendar and see if you are on track with the shortcut you laid out at the beginning of the year.
If you discover you are behind on a couple of activities, it’s a lot easier to get caught up if only a month or two have gone by. If you remember four months later that you were supposed to do something to generate an activity or revenue, chances are you’ve lost that opportunity for the year.
If you need help creating your plan or implementing your new marketing activities, let me know. Helping companies create better plans and execute more effective marketing is my specialty.