The last few days of every year,  I spend my time doing some strategic planning for the Price Group.  It gives me an opportunity to get creative and excited about the possibilities for the coming year.   But the real test of how successful any of us will be by the end of year lies in how well we implement our plan.

Here are 3 steps to consider as you plan for the coming year.  They dramatically increase your odds of hitting your goals for this year:

  1. Strategize (and Get Real) – What 3 things, if you did them, would immediately result in a lot more money coming in the door?  Stop and really think this one through.  Perhaps there’s a new product you can introduce this year, one new channel or one new segment you can go after.  List out those key revenue-producing strategies.  Then break them down into manageable tactics and steps.  Who will have to do them?  When do they need to be completed?  And what systems and support need to be put in place to make them possible.  Don’t set yourself to fail.  Keep it to your top 3 and start those first.  Besides, by definition, these are the big three that will get you a lot more business.
  2. Perhaps you don’t need to introduce something new, but rather you need to improve what you’re already doing. So as you’re developing your top three you’ll want to review what worked (and didn’t) last year. This may sound obvious, but do more of what worked and less of what didn’t.  It’s easy to get psychologically attached to some things just because they’re in your comfort zone.  That doesn’t mean they’re going to give you the biggest payoff.  Wean yourself away from those lesser-producing tactics and get going on the meaty stuff. Stop focusing on the things you LIKE to do and get after those important items.
  3. Create a marketing calendar.  I won’t even call it a plan, because that intimidates a lot of people.  At a minimum, lay out at least three activities per month that get your name and/or your product in front of prospects.  Naturally, this needs to support your strategy above.  Perhaps it’s a Media Release, a monthly newsletter, or a direct mail campaign.  Tie it to your business planning.  It’s amazing how quickly a month can fly by.  And then another. And then another.  And good intentions become just that – intentions rather than actions. I have my marketing calendar on one sheet of paper.  It’s easy to see at a glance, and it’s not overwhelming.  I know each month which three to five things I’ll be doing to promote my business.
  4. Create a sales forecast.  This is where the rubber meets the road.  Many folks stop at the marketing plan and ignore the fact that marketing generates interest, but selling closes the deal.  So you should also create a month-by-month forecast of your sales projections.  Manage yourself (and your team if you have one) to those numbers.  That’s what pays the bills.  I post this prominently in my office as a reminder of how well I’m doing against my target for the month.  If you start falling behind then that’s a cue that it might be time to hit the phones and start drumming up some business.

If you don’t like to plan, this 1-2-3 approach is great for you.  And even if you do like to plan, having a few, key, visible reminders in front of you all year can be a big help.