You gotta have a plan.

So I’m sitting in a chair across the desk from a harried boss/owner or manager, and he’s telling me business is sluggish, so there are certain things he wants to do with his website: change the wording on this page; take out this paragraph and put in something about _____; add our mission statement on the homepage; add all these keywords; et cetera.editor-harried

The expression, “Rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic” comes to mind. I’m happy to do Web copy, but if your business is going south, you don’t fix it by tinkering with the wording on your website. You start by stepping back a few hundred yards and assessing your situation objectively.

You need to ask yourself what’s really causing your business to dwindle.

• A new competitor in town?
• Someone offering what you do for lower prices?
• Are your customer service people surly?
• Is your location hurting you?
• Are your products worth buying?
• Do you have a unique selling proposition, or are you just a me-too?
• Do you keep in touch with your best customers and ask for referrals?
• Are you advertising and marketing or just hoping people will notice you?

Whether you’re experiencing a business slump or going great guns, it’s necessary periodically to take an objective look at your company, your competitors, your customers and potential customers, assess the total picture. Then you need to establish some goals, and to achieve them, do that bothersome thing called “strategizing.”

See, without an overall strategy guiding everything you do, you’re like a ship captain without a map or a destination. Your vessel is simply drifting anywhere the winds and tides take it. You happen upon another ship and shout out for directions. “To where?” the other captain shouts. “Anywhere!” you yell. The other captain hollers, “What are you seeking?” “Anything!” you answer. The captain yells back, “Well, then go any direction you please!” He walks back to the wheelhouse shaking his head.

Enough of the seagoing analogy. Point is, you need to plot out a destination and some goals for your company, for at least the coming year. The best way to do it is by creating a strategic plan. Here’s an excellent article I found about various types of analysis you can use to come up with one.

I know, busy people don’t like to fool with this kind of thing, but it’s absolutely vital. A strategic plan is a map that will guide your ship (or dinghy) safely through the rocky shoals of commerce and on to your goals, no matter which way the winds blow. Because, you see, you’ve included contingencies for their changeability in your plan. Smart, huh?

Guess I wasn’t done with that seagoing analogy after all.

In summary, to succeed in any business, large or small, you need a strategic business plan. You can work on it yourself, call on a business consultant to help you, go to a seminar about it, or ask a friend who’s done one how s/he did it. One way or another, you gotta have a plan.

If you’re in certain counties in Kansas, you can get help developing your plan from a good business consultant for free at the JCCC Small Business Development Center. I recommend them strongly.

Once you’ve gotten your business strategy done, you’ll want to develop a marketing plan and a creative plan. I have a sure-fire process (which you can learn more about here) for developing them. When you’re ready to get the word out about your business in the most cost-effective, effective way, give me a call, and I’ll be happy to help.

Happy Weird New Year!

toocoldWeird unrelenting Arctic weather, weird and disquieting disconnect between the ever-rising Dow and the still-stagnant economy, and personally, weird since I’m not working in my home office as usual, but working on-site on some client projects.

I hate being away from the animals, but I enjoy the toasty warmth of the company cubicle, versus the drafty cold of my office.

I’m still open for new projects… so if you need writing help, be sure to call.