What long, medium and short terms goals do you have for your business?

Chantal Cornelius, Appletree MarketingStephen Covey says start with the end in mind, so when you’re planning the future of your business, start by thinking about where you want your business to be long term. This could be 10 years away, 5 years away or 3 years away – it’s up to you. It could be about selling your business for a particular sum of money; it could be related to your turnover, number of clients or the reputation of your business. It’s up to you to get creative and choose a goal that inspires you to strive for it. You can have more than one long term goal if you want.

Once you have your long term goal, you need to break it down into more manageable goals. For instance, if your long term goal is to sell your business in 5 years, a medium term goal might be to be working only 3 days a week in 12 months, which is part of the way to being able to sell a business that doesn’t rely on you. If you goal is to be named the best in your field in the UK, a medium term goal could be to be seen as the best in your county in a year’s time. You can have as many medium term goals as you like to help you reach your long term goal.

You should be getting the hang of this process now, because it’s time to break your medium term goals down into short term ones – goals that you can almost reach already. So if your medium term goal is to be working 3 days a week in 12 months time, a short term goal could be to review your current working practices to see how you can grow a business that doesn’t rely on you.  Another could be to look at your staff or whatever team you have, to see what needs to be done to build a solid team of people around you, who can work while you’re away from the office. Linked to this, another short term goal could be to spend some time with an HR or recruitment consultant, to see what they advise in terms of growing your team.

Your short term goals can also be marketing goals. One could be to add a page to your website telling people about the sort of people you’re looking for, to help you grow your team. Another could be related to finding networking groups where you can meet the people you need to advise you and help you build your team.

As with your medium term goals, you can have as many as you like. If your medium term goal is 12 months away, you might need one main short term goal for each of those 12 months.

Spend some time planning where you want to take your business and you’re much more likely to get there.

This is an excerpt from my new book about Marketing Planning, which will be published on 16 November 2011.  Pre-launch orders now being taken – click here to reserve your copy.

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FastTracking: Smart moves for smart businesses

One thing I see quite regularly in business is the need for new blood. Many small businesses find themselves in a cycle – the ‘feast and famine’ rollercoaster. They spend lots of time doing marketing, generating new exciting work and clients and then get wholly distracted by the work these clients bring in. It’s wonderful to see growth, but then they can lose sight of their marketing. Suddenly the work dries up, or they learn to cope with their demand so they start a massive push for marketing again. But the new work coming in leaves them too busy to focus on their marketing again.

It’s such a simple problem, but once you’re on this rollercoaster, it’s almost impossible to get off. Businesses are left being either too busy, or not busy enough. And when they aren’t busy enough, they figure out how to get too busy again. Surely, structure would help? Inconsistent marketing leads to inconsistent results. You’ll never have a steady income of clients, workflow or finances that way. A successful small business knows how to maintain a consistent stream of work and how do they do it? Consistency and planning. So, I’ve been working on a way to get small businesses out of this cycle, and am very excited – this would change a lot of businesses for the better.

FastTrack Your Business in Just One Day is an interactive workshop that will show you how to plan your marketing and fit it conveniently into your busy schedule, to give you a regular flow of new clients. It’s a smart move for any business to make. The workshop will help you create a plan that you can take away with you and put to work in your business, straight away. We’re going to cover things like where to go with your business; how to get there; which clients can make it happen for you; and the best marketing activities you can use to attract them. In just one day, you can walk away with a clear plan to follow – one that’s appropriate to your business. This is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ programme, which is why I’m looking forward to it. This is a workshop that could change the way you see marketing and your business.

There’ll be opportunities to network with other businesses, alongside exercises and practical advice – it’s a unique opportunity to meet people at a pivotal time in their business marketing. If you’d like to join me, click here to find out more and to book online for just £49 +VAT for the whole day.

What’s your marketing strategy?

Chantal Cornelius from AppletreeLast week I wrote about setting goals for your business and marketing. Once you’ve done that, you then need to plan how you’re going to get to your goals – the strategies you’re going to use.

Whatever sort of journey you’re on, you need to work out the best way of getting to your destination. Will you drive or take the train? How will you get to the station and if you drive there, where will you leave your car? There are lots of options to consider and you need to select the most appropriate, which will be based on your starting point and your destination.

There are four main strategies you can consider, when deciding how to get to your destination. Unlike with an actual journey, you can use more than one of the strategies. In fact you could use all four of them in combination, if appropriate, to help you reach your goals.

Why do you need a strategy? For the very same reason that you set goals your marketing and your business. You could just set off and try lots of different marketing activities, in the hope that they will take you to your goals – a bit like just turning up at a bus stop and hoping that one of the buses that stops there is going your way (and assuming that buses still stop there!) Or you could plan the best approach and only spend your valuable time and money on what you know will work. Having a strategy and following it is much cheaper in the long run than the scatter gun approach to marketing.

The four strategies are based on your clients – current ones and potential ones – and your products and services – existing ones and new ones you can develop.  There are four ways in which you can combine these elements, giving the following four strategies:

  1. Sell more existing services to your existing clients
  2. Sell new services to your existing clients
  3. Sell existing services to new clients
  4. Sell new services to new clients

Many people overlook the first strategy, yet it is usually the easiest and most cost effetive one to use. Number four is usually the most expensive and risky, although it can provide the greatest returns. Start at number one and once you’re sure you’ve done all you can there, move on to the next one. Each one needs a different type of marketing, so getting clear on what you want to achieve will help  you get there.

Click here to read last week’s blog about the starting point of your journey.

Why is marketing like running a half marathon?

Chantal

On 1 May 2011 I ran a half marathon. I’d never run seriously before I started training last September, yet I finished the run without walking a single step and without having to stop once. And it took me six minutes less than I expected!

So how did I manage it, without injuring myself or running out of steam? And what’s running got to do with marketing anyway?

The common denominator is planning. Back in September I found an online training programme for complete beginners. The first day said to run for one minute, then walk for a minute, then run, then walk and so on, ten times. I puffed my way round and did what the programme said every day for the next three weeks. By the end I could run for a whole five minutes at a time, so I moved onto the next programme of 8 weeks to run 5km. I managed that by Christmas; that’s 30 minutes of running – not bad for a beginner. At this point, people started asking me if I was planning to run a marathon. I decided that might be a bit adventurous, so I declared that I would run a half marathon and I found one to enter on 1 May. I had my goal – an event and a date. I knew I had to do more serious training if I was going to achieve my goal. I found the next training programme to follow – 12 weeks to a half marathon – and I followed it to the day, without missing a step. I arranged my diary around the running, to make sure I could fit in the time I needed to cover the miles.

The big day came and I was ready. I knew I could cover the distance; I knew what to eat and drink and when; I knew what to wear and what I’d need to do and eat at the end of the event (thanks Mum for a great picnic!) And I did it and really enjoyed every step of it.

From barely being able to run up the stairs, to running 13 miles without falling over is a major achievement and yet I managed it. How? Because I had a really clear goal to aim for and then I followed a plan to get me there. The same applies to your marketing. Decide on your goal, develop a plan to get you there and then follow that plan without wavering. Get a coach if you like, to help you stick to your plan (my training coach is my Border Collie!) and reward yourself for reaching your milestones. Treat your marketing like training for a half marathon and you’ll find it much easier – and less painful – to reach your goals and achieve the success you want.

(By the way, I had an extra goal of running the half marathon to raise money for a charity called The Brooke Hospital for Animals, which helps people in the third world. You can still make a donation at www.JustGiving.com/RunningForTheBrooke).