One Page Business Plan Template

Most businesses don’t create a plan for the upcoming year because it’s too daunting a task.  Which is why I’m a big advocate of the one page business plan and why I am sharing our one page business plan template with all of you.

It’s based on a couple of assumptions.  First — no business can tackle dozens of goals in a single year.  It’s better to identify a small handful of goals and build a plan around accomplishing those.

Even if you only set a handful of goals, you can’t tackle them all at once.  You need to prioritize them and then tackle one or two of them at a time.

Second — most business owners and leaders are a little myopic.  They tend to focus on the area of the business that is either causing the most trouble or is the aspect of the business they enjoy the most.  But they rarely give equal weight to all the different facets of the organization.

This one page business plan template takes care of both of these issues.  First — it forces you to only set six goals.  Not five and not 65.  Then, it asks you to rank the goals in order of importance, so you can decide where to focus first.

But you don’t set any six goals.  You set one goal per aspect of your business. The one page business plan forces you to create a well-rounded plan that takes into account:

  • Leadership/Management
  • Staffing
  • Internal Systems
  • Financial
  • New Business
  • Marketing

If you grow all these different aspects of your business together, your business remains stable and strong.  The one page business plan template forces you to think about the organization holistically and allows you to lead its growth in a more balanced way.

Here’s what I like best about this template.  It’s simple enough that you’ll actually do it.  Download it (click here to download the one page business plan template) and get started!

 

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5 Marketing To Dos to get done before 2013

This is the time of year where work grinds to a halt.

We have another two weeks or so before the holiday frenzy, parties, hangovers and the general professional apathy creeps in and productivity becomes a dirty word.

But don’t give up hope yet.  I think there’s still a few things we can get done before we all sing Auld Lang Syne. Here are the five things I think you should focus on as the year winds down.

Your website: Take the time to look at every page, click on every link and make a list of what’s missing.  We spend a lot of time building our websites but once they’re done, they tend to be forgotten.  Fix all those broken links, correct any copy that’s wrong and update the pages that are out of date or are missing some of your more current offerings.  Look for simple things you can do to increase visitors and engagement.

Your five best customers: Take the time to actually think about those customers who help you keep the doors open.  Then, in this crazy rushed time — write them a handwritten thank you note/letter.  Be specific about why you love working with them — and send it so you end their year with a smile.

Call it quits: Look back over the past 12-24 months.  What’s the one marketing tactic that you have really dedicated yourself to but it just hasn’t caught on fire.  This has to be something that you feel you really implemented well, thoroughly and can’t imagine what you could have done better.  If you can say that and it’s not delivering results — it’s time to let it go.  Make December 2012 the last time you invest in it.

Identify your #1: If at the end of 2013, you could claim one accomplishment or goal’s achievement that would benefit the organization more than anything else — what would it to be? Spend some time identifying the barriers that are between you and that accomplishment and what you need to leap over them.  Build a one page business plan for getting to that goal as early in 2013 as you can.  Make it your priority.

Fix what’s broken: When you look back at your marketing efforts for 2012 — what’s the one marketing tactic that you know you did a lousy job of implementing?  You know it can and will work but you just let other things get in the way or you did it half-heartedly. It’s time to get serious.  Figure out what got in your way and figure a way around it.  Farm it out, get something else off your plate, make a bet that you can’t afford to lose — do whatever you need to do — to  make it happen and happen well.

There you have it — get those five things done and then you can drink that 3rd glass of spiked egg nog at the company party without any guilt.  And you’ll start 2013 with a storm of focus and energy.

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Persuasive storytelling is centuries old

Let me tell you a little story.  I promise — we’ll close the circle with some marketing insights but I need to set the stage.

Back when I launched my blog in ’06, I met Todd Andrlik about the time he was creating what would eventually become the AdAge Power 150 index of marketing blogs.  Todd participated in the first Age of Conversation book and was a part of the Blogger Social weekend in New York City where about 100 of us early adopters to marketing blogging gathered just to hang out.

As a thank you for being a part of the organizers for that weekend, Todd gave me a very special gift that told me a great deal about him.  It was a collectible version of a front page from a very old newspaper – the kind Todd had been collecting for years. Until then, I’d had no idea that Todd was an avid collector of old newspapers and in fact, he owns one of the most significant collections of American Revolution era newspapers in existence (Some of his collection is actually housed in the Library of Congress!).  He’s considered one of the nation’s leading authorities on 18th century newspapers.

Todd’s new book Reporting the Revolutionary War: Before it was History, it was News (click to buy*) was just released and it is stunning in both it’s eye-opening content and it’s eye pleasing presentation.  It has the appearance of a beautiful coffee table book — with remarkable photos of some of the most historic front pages in United State’s history.

But the book then combines these newspaper accounts with essays from 37 historians and American revolutionary experts to take us from the Boston Tea Party all the way to Independence, introducing us to incredible stories, characters and plot twists in the story of the US’ fight for freedom. What’s so cool about this book is that the experts talk about how the newspaper accounts impacted each stage of the revolution.

Todd has also built (as you might imagine) an online companion to the book at BeforeHistory.com, so interested readers, teachers and others can learn even more.

I will tell you — this is not the sort of book I normally read. But I couldn’t put it down.  The storytelling was that riveting.  That’s where you come in.  As i was reading the book, I realized it was an incredible primer on how to tell compelling stories.  Not only did I learn a lot about the Revolutionary War, but here were some takeaways for all marketers.

Bring your characters to life by making them three dimentional: One benefit of telling stories about real people is that they’re not flat.  They have dimensions, good and bad qualities, failings and virtues.  Stories are much more believable when the characters are genuine.  And today’s jaded audiences find “too good to be true” characters much less compelling.

Remind us of the greater good: Part of what made Todd’s book so exciting was that even though I knew how the fight ended, I found myself rooting for those who were truly fighting for the greater good. Many times in our marketing efforts — we get too granular and we forget to take a step back and talk about the bigger picture.  Be sure to remind your audience why what you sell matters and how you can help them in their quest to be significant.

Blending facts and emotions builds credibility:  Emotion is what triggers our hunger to buy but facts support the decision. The best storytelling marketing combines the two. Part of what made the content in Reporting the Revolutionary War so sticky was because the newspaper accounts and quotes from the stories documented that it wasn’t just fluff.

I don’t expect that most of us are creating marketing materials that would qualify as coffee table worthy but that doesn’t mean we can’t take a few lessons from a book that belongs on everyone’s coffee table.

A huge congrats to Todd on producing such a fantastic book and a reminder to all of you that despite all the hype around the word storytelling — it’s actually an ancient art that all of us can use to help connect the right people to the products and services we sell.

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Affiliate link

 

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Desperate makes us both feel cheap (pricing strategy)

Your pricing strategy should never be accidental.  It’s a vital element in your marketing mix.

Let me give you an example:  We use an outside vendor to provide extranet services for our clients.  We’d been with them for over five years.

We recently discovered a better solution.  Not only is it better, but it’s also less expensive. It wasn’t so much the fact that it was cheaper that sold us.  It was the ease of use for our clients.

But cheaper doesn’t hurt.  And this was cheaper by a couple hundred dollars a month.

When I contacted the old vendor to cancel our service, guess what their immediate response was. “We can match their price.”

What?  So you’ve been overcharging me for years?  Or you magically just had a price reduction to the very dollar amount of my new vendor and you were about to call and tell me about it?

We’re still leaving but now, instead of feeling a little guilty about leaving our old vendor, I’m feeling a bit used. If they’d valued our business – why didn’t they offer us this new price while we were still their customer?

Talk about leaving a bad taste in my mouth.

Dropping your price just to keep a customer is never a good strategy.  It makes everyone feel a little cheap. In the end, no one wins and you can kiss any sort of recommendation goodbye.

Your pricing strategy is one of the key components of your marketing message.

It speaks about things far beyond your cost.  It communicates value, customer attentiveness and how you view the relationship, both short and long term.  It’s not something you should just stumble into.  And it’s not something you should damage by mishandling a situation, like our old vendor did.

They’ll buy when they trust

Here’s an equation that every business owner needs to understand.

Know + Like + Trust = Buy.

Whether you sell toothbrushes or multi-million dollar medical equipment and everything in between — until a customer:

  • Knows who you are
  • Likes who you are
  • Trusts you

there is no purchase.  The depth of the trust required varies but there must be at least a base level of trust in place before anyone will spend a dime.

One of the things I love about social media/content marketing is that it is hard-wired to help savvy business people maximize this equation.

Know = search.  If I can’t find you, then I can’t know you exist.  Understanding how potential customers are using search when they want what you sell is vital to your business success today. Do you know what key words and phrases you should be mindful of? Are you creating content that will leverage that?

Like = social networks/blogs. When I hang out with you, in person or online, I get a sense of who you are and whether or not I like who you are.  When I read your blog, I begin to learn who you are and what you believe.  Are you out there, creating conversations and relationships?  If not — when are you going to start?

Trust = consistency online and off.  It’s easy to fake being nice, smart or helpful once or twice. But that’s tough to pull off on a consistent basis. We know that when it comes to our offline world.  And we’re learning it’s just as true online as well.  One of the greatest elements of having a digital presence is that it can quickly provide someone with a long term view of who/how you are.  That builds trust.

That equation lines up perfectly with how content marketing/social media is supposed to work.  When you create great, helpful content that aligns with how people search — you create that long tail effect that drives people to you. When you share it through your social networks and it’s done without being pushy or sleazy, people will come to like and respect you. Like and respect evolves into trust when you behave consistently in the same way.

Whether you actually sell online or you have a brick and mortar presence – using content marketing and your social media presence to move prospects along the spectrum of know, like, trust is just good business.

I’m curious — how are you building trust with what you do online?

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Get your brand on

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times — your brand is not your logo.  It’s so much more.

Want to explore what branding is really about and how it can completely change the trajectory of your company?  Then you need to get to Chicago on October 11th for my friends at The Brand Establishment’s one day seminar on brand. (read more here)

What We’ll Cover:

  • Brand – The Most Oversold, Yet Least Understood Word In Marketing Today
  • The Definition of a Brand – Finally
  • 
Branding vs. Brand Development
  • 
Where The Brand Lives
  • Your Brand On Steroids
  • Build From The Inside Out
  • Your Brand Essence
  • Internal Brand Strategies – Moving Every Employee From Hearing About A Brand To Believing There Is A Brand To Becoming The Brand
  • Brand Management For The Long Haul
  • Business And Brand Strategy Alignment
  • Brand Touch Points – “Promises To Delivery” Mechanisms
  • The Brand Establishment’s BrandLab™ Approach – Looking Through The Brand Lens
Brand Momentum – Monitor, Measure And Adjust
  • The Strategies Behind Successful Brands
  • Secrets Of Successful Brands
  • Who’s Doing It Right Today
  • How To Implement In Your Own Company

Presented by two of the nation’s leading brand experts, Jim Hughes and Tom Traynor; this seminar will provide today’s working marketing executives with the knowledge, tools and techniques needed to lead their organizations to greater profits and category domination, even in a slow economy.

At the end of this rigorous one-day session, you will be awarded a Level-One Certificate of Achievement from the country’s foremost authority in brand development, branding and brand management – The Brand Establishment.  (Read the brochure)

I know these guys and they’re the real deal.  So if you can get to Chicago (or are already there) this would be an eye-opening, business changing day.  Hope you make it there.

(Click here for more info, registration links etc.)

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