Worn-out old shoeIs your marketing plan producing the results you need? When was the last time you evaluated your plan to see if it is leading you toward success? Are you even using a marketing plan at all? Here are four questions to help you determine whether it’s time to reset your plan.

1. Are you getting in touch every month with at least three times as many new clients as you need? Not every prospective client will say yes. You need to have a marketing pipeline filled with prospects, contacts, leads, and referrals that you can draw from. If your marketing activities aren’t connecting you each month with three or more times as many prospects as you want in clients, your pipeline won’t be full enough to support you.

2. When you sit down to work on marketing, do you know what to do next? Many self-employed professionals find themselves spending more time thinking about how to market than actually doing it. Or simply reacting to outside influences (event invitations, ad solicitations, etc.), rather than proactively choosing what to do.

3. Are you spending the majority of your marketing time using the most effective approaches to get clients? For self-employed professionals, the best ways to get clients all involve building personal connections and establishing your expertise. Posting promos for your business on social media, running ads, or sending promotional email blasts are examples of activities that don’t accomplish this.

4. Do you feel excited and motivated about marketing your business? There’s no boss looking over your shoulder making you spend time on marketing. When you don’t feel engaged and positive about your own marketing, you’re more likely to neglect it than to embrace it.

If you didn’t answer yes to all of these questions, it’s time you had a marketing plan that truly serves you, instead of one that takes up time and money without producing results. Here are some steps to start building a powerful, focused, compelling plan:

  • Identify the two or three marketing strategies most likely to be effective with your target audience, and spend most of your marketing time using just those strategies. Focus on strategies that help you build connections and position yourself as an expert.
  • For each marketing strategy you plan to use, choose the tactics you feel most comfortable with employing. If you plan to reach out to prospects by phone, warm calls may be more comfortable than cold calls. Networking can be accomplished with one-on-one coffee dates rather than attending mixers filled with strangers. When you choose activities closer to your comfort zone, you’ll be much more likely to actually engage in them.
  • Make a written plan that states exactly what you will do, how much of it, and when. Plan your marketing activities just once, then do them many times. Saying you will “network” is not a plan. Writing that you will “attend one live networking event per week,” then putting those dates on your calendar — that’s a plan you can truly use.
  • Measure both your progress and your results, and re-evaluate your plan monthly. Track your progress by noting which activities in your plan are completed each week. Then you can reward yourself for what you’ve done, or see when you need to allow more time for marketing. Set a goal each month for new prospects or new clients, so you’ll have a benchmark to evaluate how well your plan is working.

You don’t need to be a marketing expert to create an effective business-building plan. You just need to follow a few basic principles like those above. This time next month, you could be on track to having all the clients you want.

C.J. Hayden

C.J. Hayden, MCC, CPCC, is the author of the bestseller Get Clients Now!: A 28-Day Marketing Program for Professionals, Consultants, and Coaches, Since 1992, she's been helping self-employed professionals survive and thrive. C.J. is the author of five other business how-to-books, and has taught marketing at Mills College and John F. Kennedy University. Find out how you can work with C.J. as your business coach or attend one of her upcoming programs.

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