Chances are, if you’re a small business owner or marketer, you’re right in the middle of planning out what the next year is going to look like. If you’re not, it’s time to get cracking. A well thought out marketing plan is vital to getting started on the right path and hitting your goals for 2012.

Here are some tips that I follow in the planning process that might help you:

  1. Create a wish list. Don’t hold anything back. Write down all of the things you would like to do/accomplish from a marketing perspective if money and time were no object.
  2. Create your goals/outcomes. Separate from your wish list, write down where you want to be one year from now. How much do you want your revenue to grow? How many new customers do you want?
  3. Compare the two sheets and begin to narrow down your wish list. What is the most important? What will offer the quickest return on your investment? What do we have the skill and manpower for vs. what would have to be done through hiring or third party work?
  4. Choose your top 10 items and create a list in the order of importance.
  5. Assign values to those items. How much will they cost? How much time will they take? What is the expected return on investment?
  6. Add in a timeline and a calendar and you have the makings of a plan. Massage it however you like to show specific growth or seasonality, list out any new hires or marketing firms you will want to work with. And set goals for yourself so that by this time next year you can evaluate 2012 and plan for 2013!