In our previous post, we introduced and discussed twelve-month small business marketing plans. You have grand plans for your small business, and chances are you would love to grow the “small” part of this label, at least as it applies to your business, as quickly as possible. With an effective, practical marketing plan, you can chart a path for your business over the course of twelve-months that puts it on a real and direct path to success. Now that sounds pretty good! However, it’s important to remember that having an impractical or overly-ambitious marketing plan can backfire, costing your business valuable resources, missed opportunities and possibly setting you up for failure.

Practical Limitations and Limited Resources

The best small business marketing plans account for both the practical limitations and limited resources faced by the vast majority of small businesses. This while also maximizing the unique knowledge, expertise and talents that you and your team bring to the table. By recognizing and creating a plan that accounts for both your limitations and the special talents that make your business unique, you can draft a plan that sets your business up for success, rather than struggling to overcome failure!

Gathering Data and Forming An Outline

The first step to drafting an powerful and practical twelve-month marketing plan involves creating a “snapshot” of your business. In its current form, and before you can create this snapshot or overview, you need to gather data. How do you define your business and its goals? Who constitutes your target market? What makes your business unique and sets you apart from your competitors? What is holding your business back? Finally, where do you want your business to be in twelve months?

Honesty – in fact, sometimes brutal honesty – is a key part of the process at this point, as the success of your marketing plan depends on the details and the parameters being both reasonable and accurate.

Setting Reasonable Goals and Expectations

For many entrepreneurs, one of the most difficult steps in this entire process may be setting reasonable goals and expectations. It seems many successful entrepreneurs have the desire to push the boundaries of what others expect of you (and what you expect of yourself) when striving for success. While having oversized dreams and aspirations certainly isn’t a bad thing, you may have to dial this back in order to create a twelve-month marketing plan that is practical and achievable.

The best way to create a marketing plan with reasonable goals and expectations is to form these goals and expectations based on past performance. If your company has grown at a steady or a predictable pace over the past twelve, eighteen or twenty-four months, your new marketing plan should set goals and expectations that are in-line with those results.

Determine Exactly What You Want To Accomplish

In addition to unrealistic goals and expectations, twelve-month marketing plans often fail because the objectives contained in the plan are too broad or undefined. It’s not enough to simply state that you want your business to be twice as large in a year, or that you want to expand into new markets or industries. Instead, create a set of objectives that are specific to either a new or existing product or service or to the growth of a new or existing company asset.

At the same time, it’s also important to allow yourself enough flexibility in your objectives to respond to marketing or industry forces that are outside of your control. By clearly defining what you want to do and how you’re going to get there, you can set yourself and your employees up for success in 2017!