I found a loophole when I was in high school that allowed me to complete all the credits I needed to graduate early - one semester before my classmates.
How did that happen?
My school switched from full-year courses to a semester system when I was in grade 11 and, because I hadn't taken any "spares", I found a way to finish up at the end of January (instead of June) in my graduation year.
And that left me with some spare time on my hands - 5 months of spare time!
My 17 year-old self had another big plan. Fly out to Banff to work and ski. Mostly ski.
Only problem was, I didn't have any money.
But I had a plan for that too.
I figured if I could just get a few more shifts a week at the gas station, I could quickly raise the $250 I needed for the one-way flight west.
First step...I talked to the owner of Whitley's Esso, my boss, Dar, to let him know my plan - I was heading out west just as soon as I could come up with the money for the flight.
Got any extra shifts for me?
Dar got me on the schedule right away and in a matter of weeks of steady shifts pumping gas, I reached my financial goal.
I found out many years later that Dar didn't have any extra shifts available for me, he just added me to the schedule so I could pay for my flight. Yes, he was exactly that guy. Such a great guy.
So while my friends toiled away at algebra, calculus, biology, history, blah, blah, blah in their final semester, I was working in Banff at Mount Norquay, and skiing during all the other minutes that I wasn't working. (the perks of working at a ski hill)
Turns out I didn't have a great plan for getting enough sleep during my Banff residency. Lesson learned.
That first big trip in my young life got me thinking about how making doable plans can lead to pretty amazing experiences, I mean, reaching your goals, no matter how lofty they are. And that applies to making marketing plans too.
I was always a planner, but my plans were for very small projects - homework, maybe a party. But making that move out west put my planning skills to the test. And confirmed to me that you COULD make things happen - really cool things - if you could plan it out.
Now I make marketing plans for my clients all the time.
The trick to successful marketing for small businesses - imho - is being consistent. And that involves good planning.
As marketers, if you know who you are trying to talk to and the things you want to say, then doing that in a consistent way will keep your business top of mind with the people you most want to be your customers - or continue to be your customers.
So if you have a plan for the who, what, when and how and you execute that plan with consistency, you have discovered the secret sauce.
In your plan, make sure you define objectives, keep it simple, be clear and flexible, make it super practical and include deadlines. (ie: I simply want to be a ski bum as soon as possible in a province with mountains where I can work and still ski a lot.)
Some of my clients are great at some aspects of marketing and have no time or inclination for others. Planning identifies where the gaps are and where outsourcing would fit.
Do you like to write and make videos but don't have time to edit and post? Outsource that! Know what to say but don't have time to write, shoot a video or blog? Tell me what you want to say and I can organize and share your content. Got tons of content but don't know how to share it? Don't really know what you want to say? There's a strategy session in your future, for sure.
But it all starts with a plan. And following that plan, of course. The result? Being consistent. That's the trick to winning at marketing.
The Small Business Guide
Kim Houlahan is a marketing consultant who loves helping small business owners improve their marketing.
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