There is an old saying which I used as my first Facebook post for the year – fail to plan, plan to fail. I think that is a great way to sum up the importance of having a plan.
Now I admit in my earlier days, I hated planning – it seemed to me such a waste of time. I would rather be “doing” than planning – after all, this is where you get the results. I soon realised I spent so much time “doing” and wasting a lot of time in the process because I didn’t have a plan to follow.
As per my previous blog, one of the biggest mistakes fitness and sports businesses make is not having any plans. Unfortunately this seems to be the norm rather than the exception.
But I bet you have a fitness plan for your clients or members including their background, what they want to achieve, their exercise routine, nutrition meals as well as monitoring them on a regular basis to see how they are progressing.
You need to do exactly the same thing for your business.
Still not convinced? Then let me share with you the top five reasons every sporting or fitness business needs a marketing plan and social media plan.
1. It forces you to look at the big picture items
You need to understand the big picture before you drill into the details. So when I talk about the big ticket items I mean:
- Your vision for your business
- Your mission statement
- How the fitness or sporting industry is going and are there any changes which may have an impact on the industry and you (such as social, legal, environmental, political, economic trends etc).
- Your target audience
- Your competitors
- How you are going to position your business and what will set you apart from your competitors
This makes you ask the important questions, why am I in business, where do I see my business going and what is the current landscape I am working in.
2. It makes you think where you are going and how you are going to get there
So you decide to go on a big trip – first you have to decide what the destination is – hmm I am thinking of Malaysia and Cambodia?
For your business, these are your marketing objectives – what do you want your business to achieve in 2016 – increase your brand awareness, generate more leads, gain more clients, or retain your existing members.
Now you have worked out where you are doing, then how are you going to get there? So for my trip, I need to work out the travel dates and what are the best flights that will get me there and hopefully not costing an arm and a leg.
For your business, you need to decide what strategies and marketing activities you need to do in order to achieve the objectives you set for the year. This could include advertising, running quarterly promotions, working with local businesses, starting a blog or offering new fitness programs.
3. Keeps you on track and in control
Now this is a big one, if you don’t have a plan, trust me you are going to go off the rails.
Let me go back to my holiday scenario – so I have decided where to go and how to get there. Now what are we going to do when we get there? Well I usually find out all the touristy spots to visit, all the activities you have to do, find out the best restaurants and cafes to eat at, and work out a good place to stay which is convenient to all the activities. So now I have my itinerary – I know what I am doing and when.
Otherwise when I arrive, I will have no idea what to do, how to do it and will probably run around like a chook with my head cut off and only see and do half the things I wanted to.
When you have a plan it keeps you, your trainers, instructors, reception staff etc all on the one page. It keeps you focused, always going in the right direction and you will find you can be more proactive and less reactive – basically you are in a much stronger position to succeed and achieve all the things you set out to do.
4. Helps you decide where to allocate your resources
No fitness business I speak to is rolling in money or has heaps of free time. Both are scarce so you want to make sure you are using them the best you can.
So back to my travel itinerary, I now have a good idea of all the activities – I have to work out the time spent on each one and how much money it will all cost. I now have all the plans so I am seeing and doing all the things I planned to and now I know the costs, I can start saving.
There are literally hundreds of marketing activities you could be doing but you won’t be able to do them all. By having a plan, you can then allocate precious money and time to the activities you will gain the best bang from your buck.
Also if you need to borrow money from a financial institution, you will definitely need to have a business and marketing plan before they think about lending you any funds.
5. Tells you what is and what is not working
So once you have your plans ready and you start rolling out the activities, you need to keep track of the results. Then you go back to your plan to see if they are helping you achieve your objectives or not. This is really important as you need to know what is working and or whether you need to adjust your activities to improve the chances of it giving you the results you want.
There are always going to be some activities you do that prove disappointing but this is where you learn the most. Tweak your campaigns, change your approach, and see if this makes a difference. Having a plan helps you uncover what is working and what you need to work on next time.
Well hopefully I have convinced you as to why you must have a plan. If you don’t have time to put one together, let me know because your business cannot afford not to have one.