Reach your 2011 marketing goals one month at a time

Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions for 2010?

Neither did I.

But rather than indulge in the usual “I’m a bad person” recriminations, I’ve developed monthly goals for many things in my life, including how to market my business.

I’ve found that setting monthly goals and then writing a recap at the end of the month on what I did accomplish helps me to focus on the positive things I’ve done. Then, I can build on those positive things rather than spend my precious time beating myself up for not reaching unrealistic goals.

Gee, it seems simple when you put it that way, doesn’t it?

What I’ve learned from this process:

1. I used to overestimate – a lot – what I could accomplish in a day. Then I would work all evening to get everything done. Result: perpetual burnout.

2. Creating a realistic to-do list for the day allows me to COMPLETE tasks in a fairly normal workday instead of working into the evening. Result: a feeling of accomplishment and a free evening!

3. Organize your work and lower your stress. I starting using Microsoft One Note for my planning and also to track the work I was doing for clients. One Note interacts with Outlook for planning your schedule and gives you a way to organize your documents, including emails. I admit to boring my friends raving about how much this has changed how I work.

4. Numbers are your friend. I have never considered myself an analytical person. But statistics are a powerful way to measure progress and signal a need to adjust your strategy. Know your website statistics and conversion rates. Know what pages are getting the most hits. Know where those hits are coming from. Google Analytics and other analytics programs are powerful tools for your online business.

5. Your plan should be flexible, and short. New opportunities appear. Sure things in your plan can evaporate overnight. Your plan should reflect your “now,” not the December of the previous year. I do a lot of my planning using a mindmap. The software allows me to look at the whole picture and make changes easily. If changes are too hard to make, you’ll never look at your plan again.

6. Pick a time each month to check your progress. I do my report at the beginning of each month. It’s short – 1 page – and reflects what I want to know, like web stats, new subscribers, new clients, new projects.

7. Take breaks during the day to stretch, take a walk, whatever. I get my best ideas during those times.

8. Breathe!

I hope you have a peaceful and prosperous New Year!