Okay, 2017 is just about here. I know. Scary.
Here’s how to write your own marketing plan … and get sales results.
When we meet motivated, talented CEO’s and business owners and ask them what they want most for their business, the answer typically boils down to two primary needs: getting and keeping more of the right customers.
What do you want for your business? More customers, more loyal customers, higher paying customers, bigger profit margins, more referrals or all of the above?
Perfect. So how do you feel about your plan, your team and your ability to take all the action steps to hit your goal? If you believe in the power of having a clear plan and the alignment of your people, here are nine fundamental elements you can use to write your own sales and marketing plan of action.
Once you work through the first part of the process, it’s essential to define your key action steps. We suggest you include all of the key stakeholders for your business, your key sales and marketing people, in this planning process. Block at least a half day if not a full day, offsite, distraction free, so you and your key people can work “on your business, marketing and sales.”
Crafting your sales and marketing plan of action doesn’t have to be hard, stressful, costly or complicated if you know the questions to ask and how to organize what you and your people learn in a way that everyone on your team knows their role. Start by following the steps below.
- Create a formal, shared document for your action plan. You and your team will share this document. Keep it simple. We use Google Drive to share our action planning system with our team and customers. Name it as you wish. We call ours the Sales and Digital Marketing Action Plan, or DMAP. Own your plan and plan to succeed.
- Commit to being a “Pathfinder.” Our action planning system defines the best leaders as Pathfinders. This is because all leaders have been places most of us will never go. This means Pathfinders know many things about building a business, teams, products, brands and stories. Pathfinders tend to be owners, but everyone on the team can choose the mindset of a Pathfinder. Pathfinders are skillful and know the many risks and places to avoid along your journey. Every great organization is full of Pathfinders who commit to the purpose, vision and plan.
- Write your company purpose in three sentences or less. Most organizations define this as “mission.” Make your purpose – your mission statement – descriptive, clear and concise. It’s about the “bigger picture” you see for your company and people. Your entire team needs to know and share your vision.
- Write your company vision in three sentences or less. This is a highly descriptive statement that ties closely with the stand you take for your brand. It’s what you see for your brand, company and people in 3, 5 or 10 years. Your entire team needs to know and share your vision.
- Create a list of your core values and define them as commitments. How many lame “corporate values” have you seen written and marketed for the world to see, but then the people in the organization don’t live or practice these same values? Define your list of core values as commitments everyone on your team shares. Take your time and choose the words the truly represent your values as commitments everyone will embrace.
- Take a bold stand for your brand. Now it’s time to build upon your brand. We teach and coach a simple process for getting clear on brand. Our process includes nine discovery questions about brand including essence keywords, benefits, identity elements, and why customers do business with you. Taking a bold stand for your brand will impact the power of your story, content and ability to attract the right prospects and customers.
- Review, agree upon and write your best story. You, your people and your brand must align. This requires talking about your brand and the problems you solve for customers. If your best customers give you reviews, use this for stories. What is the theme and impact you have on customers, the world or your community? Stories engage people when told well. Great storytellers use formulas to create powerful stories. Storytelling can be learned and when you and your team all start sharing a powerful story your customers get excited about, you will see better sales and marketing results.
- Leverage the right technologies for your people. Technology mistakes, misuse and fear create utter mayhem for people. We see it every day. You must remember people use technology. Your people need to be trained, coached and supported to use the technologies that empower them as well as providing what you need as a leader, owner. Map out each of the technologies you use, organize user permissions, security and backup, data integrity and documentation of essential functions.
- Measure what counts the most. What counts the most for you? What is the one thing you intend to achieve next? What is your goal? For many of our clients it’s sales results. But higher up in the marketing funnel it’s about conversions to list, quote, prospect and customer or sale. We measure the things that are most important for achieving the goal; sales. Focus is key. And knowing where the sales and marketing pipelines are breaking down.
Persistent Consistency – Take Action
Now that you’ve covered the fundamental building blocks for a solid business or marketing plan, it’s time to take action. Action is about planning and documenting essential actions. This includes knowing what not to do, like chase shiny objects. Planning is a process, not an event.
The key to effective action planning is persistent consistency. This means you have to meet and talk through the key points in your action plan every week once you have the fundamentals of your sales and marketing plan of action in place. It’s not enough to hold a planning session and hope it all works out. This is why ongoing coaching is so important for you and your people; you don’t know what you don’t know.
Never assume people know where you are going as the leader. They don’t. You move faster than you know. People are overwhelmed with information and stress. It is up to you as the owner, CEO, leader or Pathfinder to make sure you set a pace for your plan of action in a way that your team is empowered to perform. Clarity and buy-in become the byproduct of sharing your plan and including your people in building the action steps to achieve your goal. Be inclusive, keep your commitments, don’t get distracted, and get out of the way of your best people if you are fortunate enough to have them.
How you plan and write out your action steps is up to you. We use a coaching and discovery/learning process that lives on spreadsheets and ties into all of the marketing automation work we do. Our process is simple by design. It’s easy to teach, learn and use. We call it The Sales & Digital Marketing Action Plan, or DMAP.
We focus on documenting essential action steps by category: Now, Next Week, Next Month, Next Quarter, All Future. Then we list the person who owns the project, estimated completion date and a column for notes and updates. Einstein liked things simple. So do we. Try it if you’re not already planning like this.
We have worked with hundreds of companies since 2003 to help them plan and execute. What we notice is the relief and joy replacing the grief and stress. We hear our customers tell us it’s, “clarity … we know where we are going.”
With the proper planning disciplines you and your people will grow clear on your goals and the “who, what, when and where” part of your action plan. You can integrate the detail work, the elements that come from the discovery questions you discuss with your people, into your related systems such as Editorial Calendars, campaign and email work flows, and automated marketing campaigns.
Does working on your business and planning like this seem intimidating? Or do you fear not having the time to work on your business? We understand how overwhelming it can be when we meet you for the first time. There’s a lot of pain, fear and past trauma that we need to work through. Put the past aside, plan a bold future and take focused action.
Also, consider the cost of not having a crystal-clear plan of action you and your people feel really good about. How much is that costing you?
If all of this sounds like an unfamiliar process to you, contact me and I’ll share a few tips to help you get started. You can also see five, free training videos about our sales and marketing action planning system here.
We always appreciate your questions and comments for the resident conversion marketing experts standing by to help you get better sales and marketing results.
It’s time to crush it with your sales and marketing plan of ACTION!