How did your marketing plan work for you in 2018? Did you have an action task list that you followed consistently? Marketing plans don't have to be complicated, and they don't need to involve a lot of math -- two main perceptions that inhibit many solopreneurs in the healing and helping arts from developing and following a plan.
But notice that there are no foolish wand-waving or silly incantation items on this plan above, to sort of quote the venerable Professor Snape. Clients won't magically appear by wishing and hoping, praying and dreaming -- which unfortunately are the methods used by a lot of solopreneurs who are just starting out in private practice. A bit more of an active and consistent action-task approach is needed.
So many of us are math and business phobic that I suggest starting off with a simple planning style that is not much more than a timelined to-do list. The point is to get into the habit of holding yourself accountable to a set of goals and tasks that will help you attract clients.
For a long time I resisted setting goals. They seemed too much like New Year's resolutions. They were great sounding the first day or two, then never achieved. By mid January they became all judgy and shaming in my consciousness, like a bad, hyper-critical mother. Who needs that kind of pressure!
But then I realized that useful goal setting can be viewed more as a big picture guide, reminding me why I'm spending an hour on chores like going to networking breakfasts. Oh yeah, that's right, I wanted to increase my referral network.
When taking CJ Hayden's excellent Get Clients Now! training that a spreadsheet is a very useful tool for keeping track of actually doing daily, weekly and monthly marketing tasks. From the graphic above you can see how monthly, weekly, and daily tasks all relate to one or the other of my two main goals in this plan.
With an action task plan, there's no setting a goal then shooting in the dark without knowing how to accomplish it. There's no wasting efforts and resources on things like radio advertising, or sponsoring the local Little League. Not on the list? Good. I don't even have to agonize over deciding whether or not to do it.
Secrets of Deciding on Tasks
The best kept secret is that if you make use of your own strengths and do more tasks that are fun for you than those that are akin to feeling grounded and punished, it is easier to keep the marketing commitment to the growth of your business.
Another secret that is more obvious, is that marketing is like hygiene -- it works best when done daily.
Or for some, it is helpful to think of your private practice as if it is a small child that needs feeding and cleaning up after on a regular basis. Just like you don't neglect your kid, you'll want to not neglect your business building efforts.
I credit Casey Truffo for enlightening me about the importance of aligning with your natural personality and energy in determining how you will market. Realizing that, as an introvert, I'm much better at connecting with potential clients via writing than by talking about myself at a networking group released not only my innate talents but also my guilt-ridden reluctance to "get out there".
So for bunch of ideas for your task list, if you are more introverted than not, or have good writing skills, check out my blog on tasks for how to Get Clients Like an Introvert.
But if you are feeling more extroverted and thrive on mixing the social scene with marketing, take a look at Get Clients Like an Extrovert for a list of possible tasks that fit your personality better.
And of course there is a middle ground, with tasks that will stretch both the introvert and the extrovert. Check out Hybrid Strategies of Getting Clients.
Ideally, it's good to use a mix of task methods, a couple from each strategy, because your clients won't necessarily all be just like you. It's also very helpful to put marketing time on your daily calendar, so that you always have an hour or more blocked out to work on your business.
Reviewing Your Plan
Useful self-assessment questions for reviewing your marketing plan might be:
did you achieve your goals?
were you more than 50% accountable on daily and weekly tasks?
which action tasks did you avoid the most?
which tasks can you directly connect with resulting in clients?
did you revise the tasks during the year? why?
are there tasks you enjoyed and will continue?
did you automate or outsource any tasks? did that work well?
When reviewing your marketing plan for 2018, start with flagging the goals you achieved. You could use profit to measure success. You might compare the number of hours you saw clients in each month versus the number of hours you were available but didn't see clients. But that requires some math.
If you are new to using a marketing plan, it can feel less scary to just count the number of clients in your case load throughout the year. Likely this will fluctuate, as every solopreneur business has its ebbs and flows. It may fluctuate a lot if you haven't followed your marketing plan every day.
Revising Your Plan for 2019
Remember that toddler that is your business? As the parent, you are constantly changing her diet, seeing her outgrow her clothes, helping her learn new survival skills. A marketing plan too needs this kind of watchful eye on when and where adjustments are needed. You could make your assessment and adjustments more often than at the end of each year, but it definitely is worth doing at least once every 12 months.
These are the questions I use to guide my plan revisions:
did this task bring me new clients? how do I know?
was this task enjoyable?
can the resulting efforts of the task be repurposed*?
what new goals do I want to work on?
what priority do old goals have now?
do I want to make my plan more measurable yet?
am I including introvert, extrovert and hybrid tasks?
what could I include as a learning challenge for myself?
*A word about repurposing might be helpful. Repurposing is using work you have already done, reformatting it, and creating a new product from it. For example, the blog you are reading now is one I wrote a few years ago, updated for 2019 and to promote on Facebook for new followers.
Repurposing could also mean something like collecting up old blog posts on a certain topic, and turning them into a give-away info product available on request. By distributing an info product for free but on request, you start building an email list that can be used for marketing other products, services, or workshops. Building an email list could be one of your annual goals.
Or repurposing might be done by collecting posts on several related topics and turning that into an ebook to sell on Kindle. This could reach a wider audience than local potential clients, and also helps further your professional brand image. If you have ambitions towards becoming a nationally known person, or towards appearing as a regular expert on local TV, having an ebook distributed by Amazon is a good first step. Becoming a nationally known expert could be one of your renewable goals.
If you'd like to talk through your thoughts and quandaries about your marketing plan and are interested in being in a private Facebook group for that, let me know.