It’s 2013! Do You Know Where Your Marketing Plan Is?

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5 Steps to Putting Together a Marketing Plan for January in Under an Hour

It's 2013! Put Together a Marketing Plan in Under an Hour

Happy 2013! Doesn’t it always feel great at the beginning of a new year? There’s so much energy and so many possibilities, especially for our small businesses. So what’s your marketing plan for this month? You do have one, right?


Now, if you’re about to sheepishly click away and go play a round of Words with Friends until the guilt and shame subside, don’t. We know how it goes. Back in October, we imagine you had the best of intentions and had planned to sit down and create your 2013 marketing plan using our helpful post as a guide. But then, well. Life got in the way. Super storms. Nor’easters. The holidays. We get it (we’re business owners, too).

But just because you didn’t plan out the whole year doesn’t mean you can’t sit down and plan out January right now in under an hour. Yep, you heard us right. Create a simple plan for this month in under 60 minutes.

Here’s how:

Step One: 0-5 minutes: Open a Word doc. Label it “January 2013 Marketing Plan.” Quickly brainstorm the items you know off the top of your head that are happening this month. For example, do you send out a monthly newsletter (or were you planning to, starting this year)? Great. Write it down. Don’t worry if the list is overwhelmingly long or frighteningly short. There will be time to edit it in a moment.

Want an example? OK. Let’s pretend I run a design/build firm, and my specialty is kitchen and bath renovations. My list might look like this:

  • January newsletter
  • Facebook advertising
  • Postcard mailer to a list of homeowners in the area (not current or past clients)
  • Social media updates (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter)
  • Chamber of Commerce breakfast

Step Two: 6-12 minutes: Look at the list of marketing tasks. Where are the holes? Remember, marketing is all about balance. You want to engage current clients, past clients, and prospective clients. It’s easier to sell to existing and past customers than it is to prospects, so consider how you want to split your time. Do you want to spend 60 percent marketing to your current and past clients and 40 percent focusing on new customers? That’s a smart balance. Your marketing tasks should reflect that. Go through the list you just created and quickly note which audience is being targeted: current, past, or potential clients (or a combination).

So let’s look at the list I just created. Here’s how I’d label each item:

  • January newsletter: current and past clients (and potential clients, if I’ve asked them to opt in on forms on my website, for example)
  • Facebook advertising: potential clients
  • Postcard mailer to a list of homeowners in the area: potential clients
  • Social media updates (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc): current, past, and potential
  • Chamber of Commerce breakfast: possibly some current/past, possibly some potential, possibly some referrers

You can see from the breakdown that we’re leaning heavy on the potential clients and we might be neglecting current and past clients a bit.

Since we’re already doing a postcard mailer to a new list, it would be fairly easy to adjust the message and do a mailing to past clients while we’re at it (especially if you use a service like

Step Three: 13-23 minutes: Think goals and themes. This is the time to tie your marketing together. What are your goals? What common themes do you see? And, no, the answer can’t simply be: “get more business.” Be more specific than that.

As a design/build firm, maybe my close rate is typically 1 in 4 (so 25 percent). But maybe this close rate improves when I’m dealing with past and current clients. Maybe it’s closer to 50 percent. So the question I need to ask myself is this: What services/products can I offer this month to past and current clients that might get them excited? Let’s say my firm offers “home services” — like handyman tasks, such as building cabinets, fixing doors, sealing drafts. January might be a good time to promote some of the winterizing services and tease the spring services my firm offers. So I’ll want to be sure to include an offer in:

  • The newsletter
  • In social media updates
  • In the postcard mailer to past clients (this could be the main theme)

For potential new clients, the goal might be to start booking those big renovations people have been thinking about and taking advantage of the “new year” dreams people have. So I’ll want to focus on this message in my:

  • Facebook advertising
  • Postcard mailer to new homeowners
  • Social media updates
  • The 60-second spiel I give to fellow Chamber members at breakfast
  • Newsletter topic: highlight kitchen and bath trends for 2013 to get people excited about the thought of renovating one or both spaces in their homes

My marketing plan for January is shaping up nicely. Here’s how it looks:

  • January newsletter — Main topic: Kitchen and Bath Trends in 2013 Offer: Discount on home services
  • Facebook advertising: Promote home services. Lead people to home services landing page on the website (maybe create a special offer, such as a 10-point checklist for the final winter months?)
  • Postcard mailer to a list of homeowners in the area: promote kitchen and bath renovations
  • Postcard mailer to past clients: promote home services and offer same discount that we’re using in the newsletter
  • Social media updates (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc): be sure to promote kitchen and bath trends for 2013, home services, and special offers
  • Chamber of Commerce breakfast: practice and deliver 60-second spiel on kitchen and bath renovations

Notice that during this process, I came up with a potential additional task — creating a simple “offer” for the home services page in the form of a downloadable checklist that people receive once they fill out a form.

Step Four: 24-45 minutes: Is it all doable, who owns what, what are all the related tasks, and what are the out-of-pocket expenses? This is where you have to take a cold hard look at the list and edit. Certainly, you’d like to get everything on the list accomplished, but you have to be reasonable as well. We don’t recommend setting yourself up for failure and creating an impossibly long list of tasks that you know you’ll never complete (hey, you have a business to run on top of everything else). So this is the place to delegate and this is the place to list all the related tasks.

In our example, I’d ask myself…

  • Who writes the newsletter? Who does the layout?
  • Who will write and set up the Facebook ads? What’s the budget?
  • Will I handle the design of the postcard mailers, or will I outsource this? If outsource, what’s the budget? How many postcards do I need to order?
  • Who will do the social media updates?
  • Do I have time to create a simple offer for the home services page? If yes, will I have it professionally designed or will I create something simple in PowerPoint?

So, using the list I created for my design/build firm, my plan might now look like this:

January 2013 Marketing Plan


  • Main topic: Kitchen and Bath Trends in 2013
  • Offer: Discount on home services
  • Owner: me
  • Send date: target January 11

Facebook advertising

  • Goal: Promote home services.
  • Budget: $5/day
  • Owner: Mary, office manager; she’ll write, create, and manage ads (I’ll approve copy)
  • Owner #2: David, the high school intern; see if he can create and design a simple 10-point checklist and then create a form on the website with an auto responder that provides the checklist

Postcard mailer to a list of homeowners in the area — promote kitchen and bath renovations

  • Owners: Jane (copywriter from the Chamber) and Joe (designer from the Chamber)
  • Budget: writing and design not to exceed $500
  • Order: 100 postcards (cost TBD)
  • Send date: week of January 28

Postcard mailer to past clients: promote home services and offer same discount that you’re using in the newsletter

  • Owners: Jane (copywriter from the Chamber) and Joe (designer from the Chamber)
  • Budget: writing and design not to exceed $500
  • Order: 100 postcards(cost TBD)
  • Send date: week of January 28

Social media updates (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter)

  • Owner: Mary, office manager
  • Date: Give her a few uninterrupted hours to schedule tweets and Facebook updates for the month and to prepare LinkedIn updates.
  • Goals: Promote home services, kitchen and bath trends, and special offers

Chamber of Commerce breakfast

  • Owner: me
  • Date: last Friday of the month
  • Goal: deliver 60-second spiel on kitchen and bath renovations; connect with at least one interior decorator and schedule coffee date

Notice that I was able to flesh out the plan even further. All good.

Step Five: 46-60 minutes. Finish (if you need more time) and disseminate via email to your entire team so that everyone can see the activities planned for the month. For example — going back to my design/build firm — even though my sales reps don’t have any tasks, it’s good for them to know and understand what we’re promoting this month. They, of course, should be involved in the telemarketing follow up on the direct mailers, right? That’s another owner/task I can add into the plan before I hit “send.”

This would also be the time for me to reach out to any outside vendors (in this example, Jane and Joe, the copywriter and graphic designer) and to research the costs for postcards. All can be done easily with a few clicks of a mouse.

The most important thing to keep in mind is this: the plan is fluid. Things change. For example, maybe the high school intern gets the flu and can’t create the checklist, or maybe an advertising offer comes up — like a special coupon on ads on LinkedIn — that you want to try before the coupon expires.

That’s OK. Run with it and be willing to make changes. Lather, rinse, and repeat the process at the end of the month as you develop tasks for February.

Do you have a marketing plan in place for 2013? Or will you be trying the ideas in this post? Share your thoughts (and experiences!) in the comments.

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