Consultant: “How did you do in meeting the goals of your 2009 marketing plan? Did you stay on budget?
Typical small business person: “Wait, what? Marketing plan did you say? Budget? I was supposed to have a budget?
Consultant: “Let’s review your social media plan. Did you accomplish your goals?”
Typical small business person: “What? Social media strategy? You can do that?
Consultant: “How did the call to action on your marketing collateral work? Did prospects and customers take the steps you wanted to advance the sales process?”
Typical small business person: “I am not sure what you are talking about, but man, my brochures are sure pretty!”
Consultant: “How did your keywords perform on your website and blog?”
Typical small business person: “I have no idea, but my cousin who designed the site says her friends think the site looks bitchin’!”
Consultant: “So, with your email marketing campaign, did your prospects contact you to learn more or advance the sales process?”
Typical small business person: “No clue, but most of the people I blindly added to my database unsubscribed and gave me lip about ‘spam’.”
Consultant: “So, did you try some new things with your marketing? Try any new tactics, new messaging, any new social media tools?”
Typical small business person: “No. I stuck to the same stuff that hasn’t really worked too well before, but you know, I didn’t have any money to try something new that might work.”
Consultant: “What good marketing books did you read this year? Did you find any great marketing blogs to help you learn new things?”
Typical small business person: “No, but I think I learned some cool advertising stuff watching Mad Men…”
Consultant: “Did you hone your skills at building community and establishing relationships on tools like Twitter and Facebook?”
Typical small business person: “Huh? No, but I passed along my free e-book, the results of my IQ test, an invite to join my mafia family, and the link to my blog to all new followers and friends!”
Consultant: “Have you narrowed your marketing focus down to a highly specific, easily targeted niche?”
Typical small business owner: “Are you nuts? I am not missing out on hitting all those darn people…”
Consultant: “Have you narrowed your focus to the right networking groups that are in your target market?”
Typical small business person: “Are you nuts? I am not getting many leads from the bunch of groups I am visiting, so clearly I just need to hit as many darn networking groups as I can…”
Consultant: “Tell me about your lead generation and lead incubation system? How do you feed good solid prospects into your pre-purchase experience?”
Typical small business person: “Huh?”
The point here? Thinking strategically and putting a plan on paper is too important NOT to do. Yet, too many small business people jump into their daily routine without so much as a plan on how to proceed. The questions [by no means a complete list of pertinent questions] above serve one purpose: if you can personally identify with even one of those mini scenarios, you need to pull back, take advantage of the quieter holiday season, and think some things through as you prepare for 2010.