We all know how important planning is for a successful marketing initiative, but all too often the fast tempo of business can distract us from doing it regularly. For some of us more creative marketers, even the thought of it can scare the MQLs right out of us! This may come as a shock: If you don’t already have a plan for next quarter- it is the absolute most important thing you can do today.

For those of you without a plan, you’re currently reading this email on a hamster wheel. (I’ve been there, my initials are carved on it.) This wheel is a never-ending series of marketing campaigns (mostly emails) that you execute on a weekly basis. You manage to finagle your creativity into almost all of them, but usually on your own time and with someone senior to you simply asking “how many emails went out?”

The solution to this situation isn’t a magic dust that works over night, but it starts with Quarterly Plan. Why a quarter you say? In short, because a month is too small and a year is too big. A quarter gives enough time for executing a focused theme with the flexibility to adjust to the marketplace.

We spend a lot of time guiding companies through this planning, but even the best movies start out as an idea on a napkin. For yours, start with the goals and focuses for each quarter, for the next four quarters. Think of that furthest quarter as a holding area for ideas that you can pull into sooner quarters as they develop. From there, describe the campaigns that will result in the goals. Lastly, write down any operational initiatives you want to happen. This could be updating the org chart, reviewing technology or even buying consulting services.

Now that you’ve seen how straightforward it can be to build an initial plan, spend time on it today and you’ll be off that wheel in no time!