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The 12-Month Marketing Plan is Obsolete


 This last year has hit small businesses with ALL. THE. THINGS. As small business owners, we are swimming in change and chaos, and it hurts our brains. Thinking about putting together a 12-month marketing plan is just too much.

In the midst of trying to keep the train on the tracks for our businesses, it’s tough to wrap our heads around what our marketing should now look like. We know we need a strong marketing plan, but the 12-month marketing plan we are used to is just too daunting. First, they are too complicated. Second, they are too fixed. Finally, they are too boring.

In a pre-COVID world, we were creating 12-month marketing plans that take all of our products and services and map out how we will sell them. That is simply no longer possible. We don’t know what is going to happen next month, let alone 12 months from now. Plus, in many cases, we no longer have internal teams that can manage these complicated and comprehensive plans.

In the midst of a crazy year of dramatic shifts in consumer needs, politics, and economy, we need to get away from the 12-month marketing plan and move to something that is more nimble and focused.

The new marketing plan for small businesses looks at the next 90 days and answers the following questions:

1. Which product or service offers our highest net ROI in the next 90-days?

2. Do we have access to the right audiences for this product or service?

3. Simply stated, what problem does this product or service solve for our target audience?

4. What tactics and timeline are needed to effectively and efficiently increase sales for this product or service?

5. Who is going to do the work?

With this new, more focused marketing campaign, it allows your team to work toward one thing at a time, shift quickly if something changes, and track the results more easily.


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Consider this:


Your company sold cleaning services and products. You had 12-month marketing plan goals of retention and new customer acquisition for residential and commercial options. You also sold your patented cleaning products. Your marketing for all products and services happened simultaneously and was actively cross marketed with your other products and services. You were growing at a slow, but steady rate in some areas and faster in others.


NOW: You’ve had to cut staff, especially on the residential teams, because families have cut back and don’t feel safe with people in their homes. However, commercial services have become more important to companies, especially those that rely on having staff and customers in their physical space. Your product sales are continuing to grow at a slow pace.  With a three-month marketing plan, you decide that the biggest potential for net income lands in gaining new commercial cleaning clients. You dedicate the next 90-day’s marketing efforts to attracting and signing new commercial clients. You know that if you can gain 10 new clients on 12-month contracts, you are in a much stronger position to continue growth. Your blog, email, print, and social media content all reinforce your commercial cleaning message and drive traffic to a targeted page on your website.

You also start working on building a stronger platform and marketing campaign for product sales. You see this as having a strong potential within past residential clients, as a way to keep them engaged. Beyond your first 90-day campaign, you are already anticipating the next 90-days will continue to be focused on gaining commercial clients, and a relaunch of your product lines to homeowners.

For all of us and for the people we serve, 2020 has been chaotic and tough. We need less complications. We need more focus on the things that bring us the best results. In the case of our cleaning company, they could easily see where they could gain the most net income and chose to focus their marketing attention accordingly.

Small business marketing isn’t rocket science. It is, however, something that needs constant attention and understanding of best practices. As we all learn our way through 2020 and beyond, we will continue to shape how we respond and build our marketing!

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