- Running a small firm? Who holds you accountable?
- Marketing & Sales Success Begins with a Simple Step… Thinking!
- Your Sales Forecast Doesn’t Have to be a Guessing Game!
- Lead generation is a 3-step process.
- Measuring Sales… it’s Not just about Revenue
- 7 Selling Behaviors Seller-Doers Must Employ to be Successful.
- Can you really be “all things to all people?”
- 12 Marketing & Sales Activities you Gotta STOP this Year!
- How to maximize the impact of your marketing investment.
- Revenue Growth? Try the ‘5% Challenge’… it’s Brilliant!
- Should you ever walk away from revenue?
- Get Ready for 2017 with these 6 Marketing & Sales Activities
- 20 Marketing and Sales Concepts Business Leaders Need to Know, Part 2
- 20 Marketing and Sales Concepts Business Leaders Need to Know, Part 1
- 10 Guidelines for How to Be Successful at Sales
- Strategy Before Tactics!
- 6 Marketing & Sales Lessons Learned in our First 4 Years in Business
- The Sales Presentation: Stop Reading the PowerPoint Slides and Tell Your Story
- Content Marketing not working? Eh, don’t worry about it!
- Marketing Measurement: 3 New Methods You Have to Try in 2016
- The One Thing You Must Include in Your 2016 Marketing & Sales Plan
- Not using LinkedIn? Are you kidding me?!
- Is it OK to fire a client?
- Take Charge of Your Own Success… Stop Relying on Others!
- Getting first-time clients to take a chance on you.
- 9 Ways to Build your Business During the Summer Slowdown
- The Top 10 Ways to Build Awareness
- The 13 Most Common Website Mistakes
- The Most Important Part of Exhibiting
- Content marketing isn’t a one-time thing… it’s an all-the-time thing.
- THINKING! A framework for creating better business plans in 2015.
- Not happy with your marketing & sales? Then make just one change in 2015!
- For Beginners: Should I Tweet Daily? Yes… and here’s how.
- Got your Marketing Plan for 2015? No?! Now’s a good time to start…
- How to Connect with Booth Visitors – An Exhibitor’s Worksheet
- Not getting the email results you want? Make sure you’re following these 7 email marketing guidelines.
- 10 Ways to Get Clients to Sell FOR You (and they won’t cost a dime!)
- Do you know where you’re going? Why Strategy should drive your marketing & sales.
- 11 execution tips to help you exceed client expectations
- How to Turn First-time Clients into Repeat Clients
- 15 easy, low-cost marketing and sales tactics for 2014 – Part 2
- 15 easy, low-cost marketing and sales tactics for 2014 – Part 1
- 13 Lessons for Researchers Who Don’t Want (or Like) to Sell
- Social media marketing success in 30 minutes a day
- Get it right! You can’t manage what you don’t measure.
- It’s not that complicated! A common sense approach to the marketing & sales process.
- How MR firms are blowing it with new customers: Lessons learned while secret shopping
- Management or sales… you can’t serve two masters.
- Prove it! Nine ways to convince prospects to work with you for the first time.
- Five everyday ways to grow your business
- How that ‘one great client’ could doom your firm
- Six marketing and sales mistakes MR firms make every day
- Eight proven ways to build awareness – and why you should!
- Suspects, Prospects and Clients: Is your firm focused on the right target?
- A Checklist for Conducting Your Own Marketing & Sales Audit
- Learning to play the game: What football can teach us about marketing
- Differentiating your firm in a crowded marketplace
- 25 low- or no-cost ways to grow your business
- 15 Reasons E-mail Still Matters in Sales and Marketing
- Come prepared, dress the part and follow up: 10 dos for exhibiting at MR trade shows
- No rookies, no gum and no Frisbees: 10 don’ts for exhibiting at MR trade shows
- How to see yourself as clients see you
- Marketing 101: It takes Work to make it Work
- Use the 8 Ps of Marketing when Setting Strategy
- Integrate the 4 As of Marketing into Your Planning
- Size Does Matter: 4 Approaches to Growing Your Business
- The 12 Guiding Principles of Marketing (part 2)
- The 12 Guiding Principles of Marketing (part 1)
THINKING! A framework for creating better business plans in 2015.
As the past year ends and the new year is getting started, many firms are in the midst of planning for 2015… business plans, marketing & sales plans, operational & staffing plans, etc.
All good things, to be sure!
But too often, the planning process is focused on making sure the forms and spreadsheets are filled in… after all, you gotta have timelines, budgets and metrics to monitor, right? What’s often missing is the one thing that’s necessary for the planning to be truly successful – THINKING.
Without thinking, you’re just “doin’ stuff.” Without thinking, you’re just “wingin’ it.” Without thinking, all of that planning that you’re doing is just “guessing.”
So, before you put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), block off some time to think about and talk about all of the critical elements that could impact your planning for 2015.
To help with the process of thinking, we have put together a framework of categories you must work through to cover all of your bases. Only after you’ve been through all of these should you then sit down to do your planning.
The 3 C’s…
- Clients: Spend some time thinking about your clients, ex-client and sales prospects. What are their challenges? What keeps them up at night? Describe their ‘buyer personas.’ Be clear about the industries you serve, the kinds of companies within those industries and the titles/characteristics of the people who are involved in the decision to choose suppliers.
- Competitors: When you lose a bid, who do you lose to… and why? Think local, regional and national competitors. Think direct and indirect. What about those clients that are starting to in-source rather than out-source their work? Any new competitors in your space? Spend some time on your competitors’ websites to get to know them better. Maybe even do a little “secret shopping.”
- Company: Now look at what’s going on inside your firm. Analyze your financials – by client, by service line, by industry and vs. goal. Do a SWOT analysis with several of your employees. Consider a marketing & sales audit. Then, go to the 3 P’s below.
The 3 P’s…
- People: Take a critical look at your staff, particularly those who interact with clients and prospects. Are these the best people you can afford? What development/training needs to happen to make them even better? Are there certain positions you can live without? Or new ones you need to add?
- Products/Services: First, what kind of feedback are you getting on your existing products/services? Are they priced appropriately? What new ones should you consider? Do you need to simplify your offerings?
- Processes: Think about all of the “touch points” in the continuum of a client engagement: from when they first see your marketing and visit your website… to when they first submit an RFP and how you respond to that… to being awarded the project… to delivering on your services during the project (so many touch points/communications opportunities here)… to project wrap-up… to billing. In all of those processes, where and how can you get better?
The 2 I’s…
- The Industry you work in: What’s going on in the Market Research industry that could have an impact in your business… new trends, new methodologies, new tools, new players, new technologies, new business models, etc.
- The Industries you serve: The same goes for the vertical markets your serve… think about trends, technologies and the changes taking place there. Are the industries thriving or dying? Do you need to consider others?
The 2 E’s…
- The Environment: We’re referring to your local environment… what’s going on in your city? New potential clients or competitors coming to town, old clients or competitors leaving, the local business environment in general, associations based there, etc.
- The Economy: A ‘big picture’ look at the national (and even international) economy, as a whole. What direction is the economy moving? What’s coming out of Washington, DC that might impact you? What’s happening on the world stage that you need to pay attention to?
The questions above are meant as a starting point. As you get into this exercise, more questions will come up, conversation threads will go off in unexpected directions and many things not listed above will be discussed. That’s GREAT! Follow every rabbit hole of detail… leave no stone unturned… this is truly a case of “more is better.”
Making it Happen
If you’re a solo operator, find a quiet place and get away for a day. Use white boards or flip charts to scratch out and vet your ideas and record your thoughts. Use your phone to take photos of everything you write down and transcribe it when you get back to the office.
Work for a larger firm? Schedule a “retreat” away from the office. Make it an ‘event’ that’s enjoyable, fosters teamwork and encourages creativity and brainstorming. As above, write down and record all of your thoughts, ideas and conclusions. Want to really do it right? Get an outsider to facilitate the retreat and remove any bias from the discussions.
OK… you’re finally ready. All of that thinking – and the resulting observations, perceptions, ideas and suggestions – now need to be distilled down to a handful of key insights and strategies. Opt for simplicity here… find the one of two that you believe will have the most impact on your firm. It will be those few insights and strategies that will color and frame your planning for 2015.
Conclusion: Creating yearly plans are what business leaders do. But if all you want is a plan, get some planning software and fill in the blanks. To create plans that can be truly beneficial, take the time on the front-end to think through what’s best for your firm. Do that, and creating annual plans stops being “busy work” that ends up on the shelf gathering dust… and starts becoming a fundamental part of the growth of your business. Good luck!