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by Sarah Hamaker, reluctant marketer

With the start of a new year, our thoughts naturally turn to what we’ll accomplish in the 12 months of 2017. But if we don’t have a plan or idea of where we want to go, we’ll spend more time floundering and less time making progress. Top of your list of plans should be one that details what you’ll do for marketing.

Marketing plans can be as detailed or as sparse as you like to do. I like to start with a mission statement, a sentence or two that encapsulates what my overall goal is for my writing business. That provides the starting point for my marketing plan.

While there are plenty of resources out there with specifics on how to write a marketing plan, I’m going to talk instead about what kind of questions to ask yourself while working on the plan and how to make the plan work for you. After all, you can have the best marketing plan in the world and if you don’t execute it, then you’re in the same boat as everyone who didn’t have a plan.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Questioning Your Plan
I like to start by asking myself some questions about marketing to keep me on track and true to my mission statement.

  • What do I hope to accomplish this year?
  • What worked marketing-wise last year?
  • What didn’t work last year?
  • What did I hate doing related to marketing last year?
  • What did I really enjoy doing related to marketing last year?
  • If I didn’t implement something from last year’s plan, why not?
  • What results did I see last year?
  • What will be different this year from last year (new book coming out, different obligations, etc.)?
  • What is my marketing budget?
  • What free marketing ideas can I implement?

I’m sure you can think of more questions than these, but this should get those creative marketing juices flowing. Answering these and similar questions should help craft your 2017 marketing plan.

Making Your Plan Work
I had a dozen goals on my 2016 marketing plan, and I realized around half of them in some form or another. Some were more successful than others, and some I simply ran out of time to tackle. A few I will carry over to 2017, and add new goals for this year.

I consider last year to be more of a success than a failure in marketing, and the key was that I made my plan work for me. Here’s how.

  • I didn’t let setbacks discourage me.
  • I modified the plan where necessary.
  • I kept the plan front and center, not buried under mounds of paper or hidden on my computer.
  • I gave each goal more than one try.
  • I added a few goals as the year went on and let some go.
  • I focused on the successes, even the partial ones, rather than the failures.
  • I re-evaluated as the year progressed.
  • I tried new marketing ideas as well as ones in my comfort zone.

2016 wasn’t a perfect year in marketing for me, but I branched out and expanded my marketing horizons. Sometimes, that worked; sometimes, it didn’t, but I learned a lot and had some very positive measurable results. Now as I turn my attention to 2017, I have a better idea as to my marketing goals.

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About Sarah Hamaker

A freelance writer and editor, Sarah Hamaker has written Ending Sibling Rivalry and Hired@Home. Her stories have appeared in several Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Sarah writes frequently about parenting for Crosswalk.com and the Washington Post's On Parenting blog. She won the 2015 ACFW Genesis award in romantic suspense.

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