The Spreadsheet Marketing Plan

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Is reinvigorating your marketing efforts a 2011 priority? One major roadblock that stops planners in their tracks is creating and executing a marketing plan. I’ve worked with many planners who agonize for weeks or months over how to put their strategic marketing vision down on paper, paralyzed by inertia until this seemingly insurmountable task is complete. Worse, many planners who do author a marketing plan find themselves with a grandiose document that is chock full of buzzwords but quite short on action items.

It doesn’t have to be that hard.

Much like the financial plans we prepare for our clients, a marketing plan isn’t worth much if you can’t easily use it to guide your decisions in the year ahead. Rather than struggle to create an eloquent masterpiece that lacks actionable strategies and tactics, I recommend you devise a simple and straightforward roadmap for growing your practice.

Start by opening up a spreadsheet and typing in how many new clients you want to attract in the coming year. A monthly breakdown of the new clients you acquired in 2010 is a good way to begin. Set goals by month or quarter that are achievable but will make you stretch to accomplish them.

Next, list out your top five sources of new clients. (Mine are client referrals, online marketing, newsletter advertising, partner referrals, and events.) Think carefully about how many leads you truly believe you can generate from each source and at what rate these leads convert to new clients. This represents the start of your sales funnel and is the most important measure that you can use to track your progress against your marketing plan throughout the year. Set goals for leads and new clients from each of your top five sources to match your total new client goals for each month.

Now it’s time to break down each marketing channel into its core components. What specific actions will you take to generate new leads and how will you measure if they are successful? For each of your top five marketing channels, list out at least 10 efforts that you can do to bring in leads. For example, if you want to emphasize cultivating partner referral relationships this year, list out 10 actions to build awareness and relationships with prospective partners (not the names of the partners, but WHAT you will do).

Once you have completed brainstorming 10 actions for each of your five channels, estimate how many leads you reasonably expect to generate from each of these tactics. You may also want to note the time and cost of each tactic, which will help you derive a cost-per-lead estimate. Combined with the conversion quality, these few key metrics can help you prioritize your marketing resources for 2011.

While there is certainly room to keep expanding your marketing plan, simply completing these steps will help you create a highly actionable plan that won’t just gather dust in a drawer. You can refer to this plan all year long to help you prioritize your marketing efforts, identify which of your strategies is the most successful and focus your energy and resources on the activities which have the highest impact on your business!

Kristin Harad, CFP®
President
Next 10 Clients
San Francisco, CA

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