What kind of 2013 are you planning?

January is here again – diets, resolutions, a new series of Dancing on Ice and the beginning of a year full of opportunity for business.
How do we make sure our good intentions are realised? The old saying that “if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got” remains as true as ever, so assuming we want to make some changes, creating and implementing a good plan is critical.
For many businesses, marketing tasks aren’t so time critical that they couldn’t be done tomorrow instead of today, but of course we all know what happens to tomorrow …
Suddenly, it’s a week, a month, a quarter and we’re well off track – Easter has been and gone and all those bright new marketing initiatives are still just ideas, and we’re heading for a repeat of last year instead of the promised land.
If the thought of building a marketing plan is off-putting, let me reassure you – it doesn’t have to be hugely complicated; in fact I would recommend the opposite – keeping it simple is usually best. A basic calendar of activity and the corresponding costs on a simple spreadsheet is a great start and can be evolved during the year. To me, plans are a bit like processes – they help us streamline the predictable, the everyday and the ordinary, freeing up time and energy to deal with the exceptions when we need to.
A good plan gives us a checklist to maintain momentum; helps secure funding; is the first step towards measuring effectiveness; and is a benchmark against which to track and report progress.
However, a plan should not be a straightjacket that restricts our flexibility to react to the changes that inevitably occur and the assumptions that need adjusting. It’s a guide and a statement of intent, but when we do want to make a change it becomes a considered and agreed change.
Without a plan, it’s unlikely that we will achieve the things we aspire to, recognise our achievements or identify where we need to do something different.
Happy New Year and best wishes for planned success in 2013.