Christmas is fast approaching (less than three weeks to go – eek!) and we’re all starting to turn our attention to writing lists of presents to buy, ordering the turkey, planning when to visit the relatives – it’s all about being organised and working to a fixed deadline, typical survival tactics for the looming festive season!

So while you have your planning head firmly attached, why not start thinking about your business plans for 2012. Wouldn’t it be nice to hit the ground running on 3rd January and not be panicking or feeling disappointed that your New Year’s resolution to move your business forward has fallen at the very start. After all, if you don’t plan, you won’t know where you’re going, or even in what direction you’ll find your desired destination.

I’ve been working with several clients over the last few weeks, helping to formulate their marketing plans for 2012 and it’s been quite inspirational. Let’s face it, January can be such a miserable month, it’s back to work, everyone’s feeling somewhat broke, the waistband is a little snug, and motivation is often a bit low. But the businesses I’ve been working with are champing at the bit and really looking forward to 2012 being their best ever, or a great flying start for their new venture.

Marketing planning doesn’t have to be an onerous task. As soon as you get your ideas down on paper and work out what steps you need to take in order to reach your target, the more achievable the overall marketing task becomes – bite-sized chunks are always easier to tackle. Before you know it you’ll have created a clear map for your business and, importantly, a tool that will focus your time, energy and budgets for the coming year.

If you’re still struggling with where to start – here’s a few pointers:

  • Review where you are right now, do a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis and find ways to make your offer stronger and more appealing.
  • Set clear objectives for the year – ones that are measurable and achieveable with specific deadlines.
  • Identify the right marketing tactics for your business – what has been working, what has fallen short in 2011? Are there any new things you should try? It’s unlikely that you’ll have just one tactic that delivers, you will need a mix.

Think of your marketing plan just as you would Christmas. There’s loads to do and you can’t afford to forget anything. Planning everything and organising your time and resources will ensure the day is an absolute success – and no chance of forgetting the turkey! Now apply this to the next 12 months – isn’t marketing planning the obvious thing to do?

What plans have you made for 2012 so far? Do feel free to share your planning tactics.