What sort of a business plan should you have?
When you start a business, sometimes, greatness can be accomplished by accident. In fact, some of the greatest inventions in the world were discovered by accident, like Penicillin, which has saved literally tens of millions of lives. Sometimes, greatness isn’t achieved, but a happy accident is thrust upon you.
In the business world, however, you’re more likely to be successful if you make plans ahead of time. The right plans can be the difference between failure and resounding success. Three of the plans that can make or break your chances of success are developing a Business Plan, a Content Strategy Plan, and a Marketing Plan.
Do you have a solid business plan?
In simple terms, a Business Plan is a written description of what your business does, what it hopes to accomplish, and how it plans on doing that. Ideally, this should be a comprehensive, official document, but also one not set in stone. It should be a “living document”, one that changes and evolves as the business does.
In the Business Plan, it’s important to both create S.M.A.R.T. goals and measure progress. Quick wins, short-term goals that can be accomplished or 90-days or less, can help you stay on track for your larger goals. Developing KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for your team can help with their individual progress as well as how they fit in with the team.
How do I make a business plan?
Not sure where to start? You can get a Business Plan Template straight from the government’s website to give you an idea of what you should include. It’s a great start if you want to create the plan on your own. Sometimes though, it’s hard to be objective as a participant (or even the founder) of the business. Getting a qualified third-party to help create it can be a tremendous asset. Here at Back9, we had the help of Malloch McClean–also our accountants–who have helped us create our business plan and make our core values official.
Getting everything written down and official helps make it real and gives you something to refer back to later on as needed.
What is a Content Plan?
Content is an essential part of digital marketing. If you’re unfamiliar with the different kinds of content like infographics and email marketing, our eBook The Beginner’s Guide to Digital Marketing: What is Content? might be useful to you.
With more people online now than ever before, ignoring the internet for your business can greatly limit the people you reach. If you’re keen to be online but don’t know how to balance creating webpages, blog articles, social media posts, videos, and other kinds of content, how do you even start?
This is where creating a Content Plan comes in. A Content Plan is a detailed explanation of content you can create as well as times to post it to make it available. It helps you stay on-track with timeframes and ideas so you don’t constantly have to try to come up with something new whenever you have a few spare moments.
What if I have a hard time coming up with content ideas?
Coming up with ideas for a Content Plan can seem like a major challenge. After all, if you want to post on social media every week and maybe a blog every other week, how can you have enough ideas?
One way is to do a content generation session with your team. At Back9, we do what’s known as a Tight-5, which is cross-referencing your offerings with things that people actively search for like problems you have the solution for, costs of products and services, and comparisons between different models, providers, etc. In a one hour session, we had over 100 different blog ideas…100 blog articles can be a few years’ worth of content, in just one hour of brainstorming!
If you don’t have a team, have a team that’s hard to get together in one place, or still have trouble generating ideas, we can help you with a content planning session at our studio (or online through video conferencing). Contact us for more information, or set up a session now.
Marketing plans help you stay ahead
A content plan can help you get valuable information and resources together for your customers. But then how do you make sure that they see it? That’s where a Marketing Plan comes in. Huge corporations have separate departments full of massive teams just for marketing and can spend more on a campaign than the GDP of a small country. With that much investment, something must be working! But if you don’t have a dedicated team at your disposal, where do you begin to start?
We like to say that marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. And in order to be successful in a marathon, you have to train and plan for the results far ahead. A marketing strategy looks to do just that. A good marketing plan looks to make you win the long game by using your content from your content strategy along with other assets you have that can be used for marketing like search engine marketing, advertising, social media marketing, and more.
One thing that can greatly help out your marketing is to create things ahead of time. Since these plans tend to go out several months or even longer, you know what you’re going to be doing well before it happens. But that doesn’t mean you have to wait to create your social posts, ads, or campaigns. These can be made in advance and even scheduled through tools like Facebook Business Manager and Google Ads. We recommend doing things like photoshoots and videos in advance so you can have everything you need ready ahead of time.
A marketing plan and doing things in advance can help you get ahead and stay ahead.
What about when something major like COVID-19 happens? Don’t these plans become useless?
Not necessarily. An important part of all of these plans should be to address what happens if something stops you from doing business as usual. In case of an emergency, will your business be able to keep operating? And if not, will it survive until it’s able to once more?
Even if it’s impossible for your business to keep operating during the emergency, there are still things you can do. Your website can still work to tell customers what you do. You can keep up a Facebook presence, even if you’re only posting what you’re up to. If you do service quotes, you can get some of those prepared for when standard business resumes. You can even sell vouchers or deals for when things go back to normal. There’s plenty to do!
Your immediate content and marketing plans might need to be adjusted, but if you made the content ahead of time, you can shift it out to a later date. By having a plan for emergencies, you can reduce the impact on your team. let customers know what’s happening, and be ready to start running when you can get back on your feet again.