Ep 177 | Creating your 2023 Big Picture Strategy

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I love to start my strategic planning by planting my big rocks and non negotiables. This is both personal and professional, because I want to have that healthy balance. I'm walking you through the simple steps I do each year to help me set big goals and figure out my year.

What you'll learn:

→ ways to incorprate your personal life into your business plans.
→ how to find the balance in things you can and cannot control in your business life.
→ how you can integrate this process with your whole team.

Want to skip ahead? Here are key takeaways:

[4:05] Personal Think about what events or important dates you have in your personal life that you need to make time for. Block out those dates so that you don’t mix them with your professional obligations
[6:37] Professional Start with major events that happen every year and mark them on the calendar. Block out times for events or meetings that you may have weekly, monthly, and yearly.
[8:51] Team Meeting Meet with your team to discuss the calendar and see if there are things you can adjust, including adding events during slower months, or eliminating things that may not be necessary. Think about when you have major events and what you may need to do in the months leading up to that.

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Full Transcript

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] We're getting to the end of 2022, I cannot believe it, it has been a crazy year. And now it is time to start planning for 2023. So today, I'm going to walk you through a simple exercise that I do every single year, mostly, to kind of help me really figure out where I'm going, what I want to do in both my personal and professional life. And then also kind of help me then step into my financial reviews, my budget reviews, and setting actual plans in motion. Now, I didn't do this exercise last year, because there were so many things that were changing in my business, all for the good. And I just thought there's no way that I'm going to be able to do this and have it make sense. So I didn't do it. And I gotta tell you, I felt a little off all year, like I didn't kind of have my big rocks in place to know kind of what I was doing. And it definitely made an impact in my business. Good and bad. But that's why I'm dedicated to doing it this year, and so excited to share it with you so that hopefully it will help you as you go into your strategic planning for the year. Now, I like to do this for myself personally. So you could do some of the bigger pieces together with your team, and then still have your team come together and do their own part, do it again, just kind of on their own, to really clearly define their specific roles in the business and how it matches up with their personal goals. It's just a really great way to kind of round everything out. And make sure that we're supporting each other, supporting our employees, supporting our team, and most importantly, supporting ourselves to find that balance that we need. This overall will help you with increased revenue, because everybody will really know what they're doing and know where the team is going collectively. I'd love to hear what you think about this exercise, because it's really simple. But before we jump into exactly what it is, this episode is brought to you by our digital marketing therapy sessions. These are 30 minute sessions, they're $75 for 30 minutes, and it's just me in your back pocket, you can book one, you can book 50, whatever you need, so that you can get the support to keep your digital marketing moving forward, and not get stuck and stop in your tracks. Because we know when we don't take action, nothing happens. So let me help you take action, you can book your time at thefirstclick.net/officehours. Let's get into the episode. 

[INTRO] You're listening to the digital marketing therapy podcast. I'm your host, Sami Bedell-Mulhern. And each week, I bring you tips from myself and other experts, as well as hot seats with small business owners and entrepreneurs to demystify digital marketing and get you on your way to generating more leads and growing your business. 

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Okay, so to do this exercise, you really don't need a lot. And you can do this. However, it makes the most sense for you. Some people like paper, some people like digital, totally up to you, what I like to do is just print out a blank calendar, so one per sheet, per month. So I just do it through iCal. And if you're watching us on YouTube, I'm showing you what that is. But it's really just one month blank per page. So that I can write in my notes and kind of really make a detail of what I'm doing. I like to do it on paper. Because this is a draft, this is something that I typically do twice. So I do it the first time, sit with it. And then when I'm really going into my strategic planning, I do it again. So I like to have it on paper so I can kind of move things around. You could also use sticky notes if you want to, I love a good pen with multiple colors or different colored pens so that I can write each type of activity in a different color. So my personal, my business, yada yada yada, in different colors. So when I go through and edit and kind of change and prioritize, I can clearly see what bucket that falls into. 

So you're just going to do a few things. The first thing is, I like to start with personal because that is the most important thing to me. And those are my non-negotiables. So what are the things in my personal life that are happening in 2023 that I want to make sure I can work around to the best of my ability. Things that look like you know, maybe spring break, we may or may not be going anywhere, but I know that my kiddos are going to be home so probably don't want to play in some major event during that time. Holiday breaks, first day of school, last days of school, you might not know the exact date but you can kind of put in a rough thing and at least it's there as a general reminder for you. You might have some big weddings coming up or high school graduations, there might be dances that your kids are going to, you might have a girls trip or a guy's trip planned, you might have a vacation, family vacation, things like that. So the example I like to share is a few years ago, I was doing this exercise. And I realized, because I hadn't been working both sides of my life together, that I had planned my online summit to happen the week after a trip my husband and I had planned to Mexico. So this was the first time we were going away without kids since our honeymoon. So it'd been like, eight or nine years. And so that was a big deal. And having the summit the week we got back would have been a nightmare. But because I did this planning in the end of the year, and I hadn't started promoting the summit, yet, it was really easy for me to change those dates. So I moved it to two weeks before, so that I could have it done, have all the follow up done, and then go on vacation with ease. So that's what we're trying to accomplish here by layering all of these things on top of each other. So you're gonna go through it, you're gonna do all your personal stuff, all of the big rocks, the non negotiables. This could even be small things like maybe you have a book club once a month, that is critical. Maybe you have planned girls nights out or out with friends or couples, date nights, whatever it is, big or small things that are important to you that are non negotiable. Those go down first. Now I understand depending on your situation, you might not be able to move some things, and you might have to miss a few things. But at least if you see it this way, you can really make those decisions and prioritize. And maybe have a conversation with your team to say, hey, what if we moved these kinds of things around.

So the second thing that you're going to put down, are those big blocks in your professional life, in your job that happen all the time. So it could be your annual gala that you know is roughly in March of every year, maybe you have a golf tournament, maybe you have regular board meetings or donor meetings that you want to have down. What are the things that are always happening, that you maybe can't control as much, that you want to make sure that you have space for in your calendar? What do those look like? I like to change the color when I'm doing this. And put those things down. Now if you're like me, you might have multiple jobs, you might have multiple businesses, like I have Color Street, which is my direct sales business, which I love. And so there are certain things for that company, like a conference that I know I would like to attend. So you might have conferences that you want to put down, even if you don't know for sure that you're going but it's something that you would really like to do. Put it down so you can make space and time for. I also have my summit that I put down that I'd like to do again, in October of 2023. So I'm going to try to put that in. I am going to be thinking about other products or things that I'm going to want to launch, things that I might want to put out there, and resell, things like that, all of that's going in there. You might have a fundraising campaign, you might have events for your monthly donors that you need to put in there. But whatever it is, right, so we're going to put all of that down. And this is why I like to do it as part of a team and do it twice. Because sometimes you don't think about the things that you're doing all the time, that still take up time in your day, right? Like let's say you have a commitment to take a board member out to lunch every week. And that's just something you do. So you're like, Oh, that's not big enough to put down on this calendar. But that is dedicated time that you have every single week that you need to give to an activity. So we want to put it down, right? Even if it's not, you don't know who you're taking to lunch that week. That's okay, let's put it down on this list so we can start to see everything that's on our plate. 

So then after the professional things, if you've gone through all of your jobs, all of your different roles. We're going to take a look at our calendar as a whole and see what kinds of things we might need to move around. How is it looking? How are you feeling about the cadence of things that you have? Because if you have the gala in March, it's not just the gala day, right? It's the two to three months leading up to it that you still have all of these activities that are going on. So you might want to make a little note at the top of your calendar for January and February that says gala prep month gala prep month. So as you're still figuring out everything, you can have that in your head that we still will be doing a lot of effort towards some of these events that are happening. Okay, so you've got all your big rocks down, you may have eliminated a few things as you looked at it if you see that things are really crazy. But this also gives you an opportunity to talk with your team and say, Hey, look at this, like we've got all of these things happening at this time. You know, are they all valuable? Do they all generate what we need, the goals that we need to achieve? They help us get there. It's really going to help you eliminate things. Or maybe on the other side, you'll say, You know what? We have a really big space of time between August and October where nothing is going on. Could we do an email fundraising campaign? Or could we use that time to really create our content strategy that we've been wanting to push out? Could we use that time to kind of layer in some other things that we've been wanting to add in that we haven't had time for, things like that, right? You can make those kinds of decisions. So that is then when I take this calendar, and I start to put together my budget. So I'm looking at each month. I'm looking at the activities that are happening, I'm looking at the basic skeleton of my year. And I can kind of start to assign dollar amounts to the months based off of, obviously historical, right, year over year, what did we do during those months, and tie them to the activities that are also happening during that month, then I can start to kind of build out that bigger plan, you might have a different process for budgeting, especially if you have a larger organization. But this is just kind of something that helps with my brain as a small shop. So hopefully, it helps with yours. If not, you can totally eliminate this step. I like to write the dollar amount on the top of the calendar, so I have it with me. And then that is reminding me of kind of what my goals are. And then what I like to do is take this into marketing planning, like that step. I don't like to plan for the whole year. But what I like to try to do is come up with content blocks. So what are some core things that I know we can talk about each month? So this is where you're going to write down things like is there an awareness month around the cars that you serve? Write that down. So as you're planning, you can look ahead and be reminded that that's coming. Is their anniversary month that you like to talk about? Are there other things like seasonally that just make sense that are in line with your organization? Right? So let's say you help with homelessness in your community. So maybe in September, you're starting to talk about winter conditions and what it's like, how to prep, and what can you do to help people that are going to be dealing with cold conditions? Flip that in the spring, maybe you're talking about summer and heat warnings, right, depending on your location and where you are. You might be talking about ways that people can prep their homes for better energy use if you're an environmental company, right? So really thinking about like, what are some maybe core content categories that I can talk about? So for me, for example, January's all about refresh and restore. We're not doing resolutions. But I know coming out of the holiday season and year of giving is exhausting. So for January, we're trying to talk through some things about helping with burnout, and kind of taking a moment to breathe and just start fresh. February, we're going to probably be pushing out some content around kindness and care also, because it's February, it's Valentine's and we want to spread some love. And in March, I'm not quite sure yet what we're going to talk about in March, probably dive deeper. And maybe we'll just have that be a core website month and some of those things around your website, because we're done with getting it to the end of q1. So how can we really make sure that we are continuing to build on this momentum? Those are just some examples. But I like to write those content ideas at the top of every calendar as well so they're there for me. Because I keep these calendars near me at all times. Because I can flip through it all the time and just be like, oh, yeah, okay, I forgot about that idea that I had, or as new ideas come to me, I can just write them down for future months. And I have everything in this neat, tidy little package. And then I use those to really dive deep for Q1. What are the big things that I know I need to do from a marketing perspective? And I start to build that out in my project management tool. So my social media calendar, my email marketing, like my podcast stuff, all of that doesn't live on this sheet, that would be crazy. But it goes in my project management tool where I can score in my Google spreadsheets for my podcast where I can start to draft all the ideas and target my reach out. And really make sure that I have the topics that are going to be in alignment with what it is that we're trying to achieve. Right, setting up the calls to action to match with the goals of what we're trying to achieve. Figuring out timing for conversations that need to be had, social media content can get planned, all of that good stuff. So do that wherever and however that makes the most sense for you. And really, that's it. So it's really just setting the skeleton framework for what you want your year to look like both personally and professionally. And working it out with the team and making sure that everybody's in alignment. How can you better support your staff by helping understand what they have going on in their lives so that we can all come together to do our best work as an organization with more ease and peace and supporting each other, because really, that's what we all need, especially this time of year, no matter how big or small your organization is. I hope you found this helpful. I would love to see and hear how you do this. You can email me at sami@thefirstclick.net. And I just hope that this is something that really supports you and your team, even if you just choose to do it for yourself. But for now, please subscribe wherever you listen so you don't miss out on a single episode. Thank you so much for taking the time to listen to these episodes, and leave us a five star review while you're there. I'd really appreciate it and don't forget to check out the video versions of these episodes at thefirstclick.net/YouTube. See you in the next one.

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