I have a confession to make

My name is Phoebe Netto and I am a list-aholic.

I am just crazy about lists. I have multiple to-do lists and update them during the day. It is almost impossible for me to have a restful sleep unless I create an updated to-do list for the next day before going to bed.

One of the best things my husband can say to me (better than offering to do the dishes) is to ask me to made a list of the things he needs to do around the house as a reminder. The feeling of joy that brings me is almost equivalent to the satisfaction found when he ticks items off the list!

It is not just to-do lists that I love. I love schedules, progress trackers, calendars, measurable action plans and detailed plans.

So you get the picture. I am a little obsessed.

Whether you are as crazy about lists as I am, planning documents such as schedules, lists, scope of work outlines and progress trackers need to be treated as important business tools.

One of the keys to consistently effective marketing is to make the most of planning documents.

Us ‘marketing types’ employ a range of different reporting documents and lists when working with clients. Some marketing consultants do not use any reporting documents, plans or lists (I know!). Having worked in big and small business, I have seen that many of these marketing and PR (public relations) documents are actually a big waste of everyone’s time. Really (even I think so).

There are really only a couple of documents that you should have for your ongoing marketing and public relations:

  1. Calendar of upcoming activity
  2. Work in progress (WIP) document.

If you are employing the services of a marketing consultant, you may want to start with a an initial scope of work outline to get an idea of what they are going to recommend. However, the most important plans that you should have are a ‘living’ calendar of upcoming activity and a work in progress (WIP) document.

Calendar of upcoming activity

This calendar should give you marketing activity to be completed or repeated on a daily, weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis. This avoids the natural tendency that us business owners have to be inconsistent, short-term or sporadic in our marketing activity. It also keeps you on your toes and encourages a reliable, consistent, long-term approach.

The calendar is ‘living’ because it is regularly updated based on regular evaluation and is agile enough to be adjusted to take hold of new opportunities and respond to external circumstances. For example, I had a client activity planned twelve months in advance and it was scheduled to occur on the same day as the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Catherine. Once the date of the wedding was announced we were able to alter the calendar of activity.

Work in progress (WIP) document

Much more important than a ‘pretty’ marketing plan is a detailed WIP document which contains:

  • roles,
  • responsibilities,
  • deadlines,
  • measurements,
  • objectives,
  • budgets and
  • an outline of the steps involved for each marketing action.

The WIP document is a detailed action plan and is based on an overall big-picture marketing plan that looks at every aspect of your business marketing. In my business I make sure that my clients’ WIP documents are regularly updated with frequent progress reports. This way my clients are able to know exactly where we are up to and what is coming up. It makes it possible to budget for activity and to also plan ahead so their marketing activity fits in with any major business movements.

By having a clear, detailed strategy that is broken into regular chunks of work there is a reason for every marketing tactic and each activity is carried out well for the right length of time needed to see results.

You need not be as obsessed with lists as I am to use a calendar of scheduled marketing and public relations tasks and a WIP document as a plan. You simply need to have a desire to save money in your marketing by planning ahead and only doing what will gain results.

What about you: Do you use lists and action plans in your business? Do you find them helpful?

3 thoughts on “I have a confession to make”

  1. Glad to meet another list ‘psycho’!

    I honestly don’t know how people work without them. I have multiple – daily, full project list then there’s my project planning calendar.

    They are fabulous aren’t they?

  2. Sally Foley-Lewis

    I’m in this club! When I don’t work to my ‘current’ list I really do lose track, waste time and lose focus.

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