Strategic Planning for 2012 Begins Now

The year is quickly drawing to a close and many CEOs are busy tying up their business plans for 2012 and thinking about market share for the coming year. As someone who really enjoys the strategic planning process, I find that this is a wonderful time of year to reflect on what worked well and what we might have improved upon. They key component is to then integrate those reflections into the planning process for next year.

With every New Year, there seems to be lessons learned and new opportunities to create a more successful business—no matter what industry you’re in. For most, success doesn’t come easily. It will depend greatly on the appropriate commitment and planning.

I always like to think of marketing of a business the same way the way the hospitality industry thinks about selling hotel rooms. Every room that is not sold tonight will never again have the opportunity to contribute to the hotel profits. With that said, every day you’re not moving towards your strategic marketing goals of 2012 you will lose the opportunity to make 2012 the best year yet.

Even though the marketing field doesn’t deal in empty rooms for most of us, it’s good to think of the customers that we could be attracting to get an idea for what we are missing. So this is what I challenge you to do this week:

Take a look back
Sit for a moment and reflect on last year as a whole. What lessons did you learn when you tried out that new social media strategy? What were some of the challenges of adjusting to the new market? What worked? What didn’t? What would you have done differently, given the chance?

Take a look forward
New Year’s resolutions tend to get broken by the end of January, so instead of making resolutions, set some tangible and measurable goals. How many of those “hotel rooms” didn’t get filled in 2011? A missed opportunity is a loss for the company.

Think about benchmarks you can achieve before each month ends—better yet set weekly goals. Achieving goals incrementally will keep you on the ball throughout the year. Only through distinct benchmarks and creative strategies can the savvy marketer know what steps to take to meet and beat goals.

Plan for success
Creating a written strategic plan is critical to achieving your goals, but it must not stop there. You need to incorporate timelines and assign responsibility to yourself and/or your team. By doing this important step, you will know who will be responsible for implementing the tactics and by when they must be completed.

Monitor: Today, tomorrow, and thereafter
So you’ve set some great goals for your organization and have outlined how to get there and who will help you achieve success. The next important element to include in your strategic plan is how to monitor progress.

This is where most fall short. If you fail to include (and stick with) a system for monitoring your program, you could potentially end up at the end of the 2012 with no results. So, I remind you to include methods of ensuring success.

The time is now
I invite you to start now to hit the ground running as you head into the New Year. As the market changes and things begin to pick up, it’s never been more important than to plan and remain committed to it. Don’t let a single day of 2012 be a “lost room night”.

A final thought
If strategic planning is not one of your gifts, why don’t you give me a call? I’ll be glad to assist you in the development of a strategic marketing plan that will help make 2012 a great year.