At business meetings, cocktail parties, and family gatherings over the past few weeks, the most talked about topic…goals for the coming year. It makes sense. The New Year offers a chance to begin again. Take a fresh start. We encourage that but we also understand that willpower is fleeting, and, best intentions, well, you know the rest of that line.

Goal-setting has the lovable nature of being both easy and challenging. Saying you wish to travel to Singapore is easy. Making time, finding the money, and booking all the reservations takes planning and decision making. So too with your marketing. Planning is the key. And yet, many small business owners get that “deer-in-the-headlights” look when we talk with them about setting goals for their marketing. It is easy to say “we want to double our revenue,” it is something altogether different to make that happent. The steps required to achieve, even simple, goals must each be achievable. Each must lead to subsequent stages. “One foot in front of the other.” But with marketing, it is not always clear what the right steps are. Should I buy TV ads? Radio spots? Movie preview ads? Or should we revamp our website with a “new look and feel”? These questions are common, but they also are wrong if they are not asked in conjunction with a larger plan. A single TV ad might look great, but if it is not connected to a complete marketing plan with measurement built in, you run the real risk of the ad enriching the TV companies, but not you.

Planning can mean the difference between achievement and failure. Ben Franklin had it right. “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” We encourage each and every one of you to explore the New Year with an open mind. Reach for those things you never thought possible. And write down a simple set of steps you think will make them happen. Keep that list close to you through the year and check and see where you are each month.

We wish everyone a healthy, profitable, and “goals-completed” New Year!