As the year is winding down, how are you doing on your annual goals? Did you write down your goals and create a plan to achieve your goals?

Research shows that when people write down their goals regularly, they are 42% more likely to achieve them. But even for those who do write down their goals, one step that’s often overlooked is creating an actionable plan. I can write down a goal to run a marathon, but unless I create a plan that includes diet, exercise and training, I’m going to be sitting on my couch on New Year’s Eve with my written goal in hand.

What information should be included in your annual plan?

Writing down that you’ll be doing more Facebook or Instagram this year isn’t a marketing plan. It’s like going to the dentist and asking him to only floss your teeth. It isn’t a complete program. And if your customers aren’t on Facebook or your message doesn’t resonate with them then you’re wasting any efforts because your plan is missing some important components.

Creating a comprehensive marketing plan requires three things:

  • Know your customer
  • Know your competition
  • Know yourself

Customers

Developing buyer personas or understanding your ideal customer avatar will allow you to get a better understanding about the type of person buying your products or services. Are they a male or female? Young or old? Are they well educated? Employed? Have hobbies? What keeps them up at night and how will your product or service help to solve their problems. Make your marketing efforts about them, not you. And knowing who your customer is will help you to understand what and where to market yourself.

Competition

Do you know who your competition is? Don’t say “everyone” or “no one”. Every business has around 5 direct competitors. Even if they don’t sell the same products or services as you, you may be in competition with an alternative product or service. Did you know that your competition’s biggest weakness is your biggest strength? Being able to identify what makes you different from your competition will determine how to craft your marketing message.

Yourself

Everyone thinks their product or service is the best. But it’s not about being the best. It’s about being different. You have something special and a story to tell. Identifying what this is and focusing on your brand and not everyone else will keep you laser focused on selling your unique product or service. These answers will help you to understand why you are important to help your customers.

Once you have identified the answers to who, what, where, how and why, you will have created a comprehensive marketing strategy that isn’t one-size-fits-all and will create lasting results.