What’s the first thing you think of when you hear about a new marketing idea, strategy or opportunity?
Do you think: “Wow, this is incredible! I can’t wait to get working on that immediately!”
No, I’ll bet you think something more like: “Hmmm, sounds interesting but it probably won’t work and even if it did, there’s no way I’m going to find time to fit it in.”
Look, I want admit something that may surprise you.
This is EXACTLY what I think. Not just sometimes – every time! Frankly, I already have so much on my plate that I don’t want to even think of taking on something else. It just overwhelms me.
The thing is, if I’m to continue to grow my business successfully and keep moving forward (just like you), I need to discover ways to work smarter, not harder.
In the Marketing Club and the Marketing Mastery Program I recently introduced a powerful new system for planning and implementing one’s marketing so you can get more done, feel less overwhelmed and start to take on new projects.
I’ve been using it for a few months with great success and I’ve decided to share it with you today. And yes, I’m getting great results from this; I’m getting more done and working less.
I often feel a little embarrassed that I often knock off work at 3:00 p.m. having completed everything for the day, including progress on multiple marketing projects. I’m more on top of things and feel a lot less stressed.
So how does this planning system work?
First of all, planning is one of the simplest and most powerful things you can do in your business and in your marketing. And because it’s really so simple, I don’t think it gets the respect it deserves.
For every hour you plan, you’ll ultimately save several hours. So, yes, you’ll need to put a little time into this, but because you’ll *always* see a net gain in time saved (and stress reduced), this is something that you can’t afford to NOT do.
Here’s the basics of this system.
1. Get a regular 3-ring binder for your planning forms. You may be able to adapt this to a computer or online system, but for many, paper systems actually work better; they do for me.
2. Develop various plans and strategies with action items. Write these up by doing a marketing action plan or project sheet. Essentially, as with any plan, you create a list of action items that need to be completed along with a timeline.
3. Also keep a master list of every other important thing that needs to get done in your marketing. You can add to this list at any time and you can put large or small items on this list.
4. Schedule the most important of the above items on what I call an 8-week “Marketing Calendar.” This is a form on a regular 8.5 X 11 sheet with space for 8 weeks, top to bottom. For each week there are spaces for up to 6 high-priority action items.
Week of Write eZine, Plan TeleClass, Follow-up TC leads,
11/29 Find one new ideal affiliate, Network at Chamber
Week of Write article for website, More TC follow-up,
12/6 Re-write web services page, Book workshop space
This is the key to the system. Instead of big lists that have no relation to time, you’ve taken your main action items and mapped them out for eight weeks. Your lists have now evolved into a plan.
5. Each week do a planning session and plan your week. Move the items from your Marketing Calendar onto your “Weekly List” that you are committed to doing that week. If you don’t intend to do it that week, forward to another week. Also look at your schedule and see what days you’ll be able to realistically complete each of the items on your weekly list.
This weekly planning session may be the most valuable time you ever spend on your business. The more you work on this, the better you get at it. You start to see the subtleties of planning and managing many items and large projects step-by-step.
6. Each day look at your weekly plan and forward items onto your “Daily List.” Again, only list those to-dos for that day that you actually WILL DO that day (no hoping here).
Now instead of being overwhelmed by huge lists and random project plans you’ve funneled it down like this:
Master List(s) > Marketing Calendar > Weekly List > Daily List
7. The game of planning is to do the things that need to be done, when they need to be done. Your goal is to complete all the items on your daily list and also all the things on your weekly list.
A Few Tips and Pitfalls
1. Don’t put too many things on your weekly list or daily list. You need to really think about what is included in each action item, how long it will take, what else this item will impact, etc.
2. Make it a game and have fun with it. This is not a desperate race to the finish line where the person with the most things done wins. You win when you get the things done that need doing with grace and ease.
3. Have a place to put ideas, projects etc, that cannot be done now but that you can plan to do later. This may be your master list or a quick project page you create. You might even add to your weekly list: “Work on initial plan for ABC idea.”
4. Watch that you don’t get caught up in “idea seizures.” This is when you get a good idea and start working on it right away with little or no planning. Inevitably these are the things that don’t get completed or, upon reflection, were low priorities.
They can waste enormous amounts of time and push higher priority items further down the line until they become urgent emergencies. Instead, capture those ideas to work on later.
5. Schedule big hunks of time to work on some marketing activities such as your eZine or developing a talk or teleclass. If you plan further ahead for these things and carve out the time, you’ll get out of “fire-fighting” mode.
6. Urgency almost never creates better work. It usually creates work that feels rushed and shoddy. As you get better and better at planning, you’ll learn how to fit in a lot of things without overwhelm or pressure.
7. You need to commit to planning and using this system every day for at least a month. By that time it will start to become habitual, and the results will be so obvious that it will be hard to go back to your old ways.
The More Clients Bottom Line: Planning is the highest return activity in both your business and your marketing. The rewards are great: More time to get to the important things, less overwhelm, more free time, less stress. Yes, planning rules!
By Robert Middleton of Action Plan Marketing. Please visit Robert’s web site at www.actionplan.com for additional marketing articles and resources on marketing for professional service businesses.