Let me hear you sing it out loud!

Planning ahead, planning ahead, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, planning aheeeeaaaaad!

I started off not sure why I was singing Planning Ahead to myself to a slightly out of key Bee Gee style song, but then I realised.  Not only are there the same number of syllables, giving the words a satisfactory rhythm but, actually, Planning Ahead is key to Staying Alive when you’re in business.  And particularly when you’re in marketing.

Let’s face it, if you want the best outcome in any situation, you have to put the prep in.

A real life example for you.  I recently got engaged, and am now on the hunt for the perfect venue.  I’ve got a bunch of spreadsheets together for budgets, guests, timings for how everything’s going to pan out on the day etc.  Because when I’m checking out venues I need to know whether I can afford them (aka crossing them off the list immediately because of the shameful amount of money they want to charge me for what is essentially a slightly fancy party!), whether they can accommodate the number of guests I want to invite, or whether they’ll be able to create the really informal look and feel I want for the day.  It’s all a bit painful at the minute as I try and find the perfect venue, but once I do, I know that it will all come together.

It’s no different to working on your marketing campaigns.  Whether it’s an exhibition or event that you’re attending, an email campaign you want to run or even a specific way you’re going to get results from networking.  You’ve got to plan it.

Starting with the end in mind is vital.

As is giving yourself some time to do the planning.

What do you want from all this effort?

You need to know what you want your campaign to do for you.  How much revenue do you want to generate from it?  So how many customers do you want to convert, and what do you want them to buy?  So how many prospects do you need seeing your message, and what are the best ways of getting that message in front of them?

That’s how you work out the best tactics to use.  You might have decided that you’re going to run a direct mail campaign.  But if you plan it correctly you can work out what other things you could run along side it to make it even stronger.  Maybe follow it up with a phone or email campaign, or both.  What about your social media.  Could your prospects be encouraged to post something on social media using the same hash tag that you’re using in your social media promotion?  How could it all fit to give you the opportunity to keep “touching” your prospects to make sure they really know you’re there.

Then plot everything out.  When do each of the key things need to happen?  And what actions need to be taken ahead of those key things in order that they can happen?  And how long will each of those things take?  And who will be responsible for them?  And how much will it cost?  Do you need to schedule in time for getting costings?  Double check that whatever it’s going to cost you is a sensible investment for the return you want to get from the project.  And what can you change if it’s not realistic? And what about follow up?  And measurement afterwards?  Etc.

The list goes on!

Don’t panic!

When you start looking at all of this stuff, it’s quite easy to get a bit overwhelmed again because it does seem like there’s a lot to do.

But the truth is that if you’re going to run an effective campaign that’s going to get you the results that you want, there probably IS a lot to do.  But it’s a lot better knowing exactly what you’ve got to do and when you’ve got to do it, than just going off half cocked, missing half the stuff out and spending money on doing some marketing that just doesn’t work because you didn’t give it a chance to.

Isn’t it?

Seek help!

Remember, if you want to make it easy, you can always come and have a chat with me.  The fact that I’ve only been engaged for three weeks and I already have a number of wedding spreadsheets in progress will hopefully give you confidence that I’m quite good at breaking the planning down into bite sized chunks!

Or you’ll just think I’m a control freak but, let’s face it, control freaks make the best planners!

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