Have you ever sat down at your desk first thing in the morning and spent a good 45 minutes browsing social media or getting lost in your inbox because you can’t focus on what you need to do? At the end of the day, you feel as if you’ve wasted 8 hours of your life that you’ll never get back.
On the other hand, have you ever sat down, opened your calendar app or a to-do list, and jumped right into work, knocking out task after task in a matter of minutes? When you shut your computer at the end of the day, you feel accomplished and know that you’ve done everything possible to move towards your professional goals.
What’s the difference between these two scenarios? A plan. Having your day (or week, or project) mapped out with a concrete action plan will help you feel more focused and accomplished in less time. When it comes to marketing, an action plan could mean the difference between a campaign that sizzles and a campaign that fizzles.
Now that you know there’s a way to ensure more days end with the satisfaction of work done well, let’s take a closer look at what these plans actually are and how they can benefit you.
What is an action plan?
An action plan is a proposed strategy for whatever you want to accomplish. It’s a clear, detailed list of all the steps you need to take to reach your goal, along with a proposed timeline of when you’ll complete each step or task.
Perhaps you’ve heard of action plans in the past, but never tried to create one of your own, Or maybe, this is a brand new concept to you and you’re pretty sure you just heard a choir of angels in the background.
What is the purpose of an action plan?
Action plans are designed to help you reach your goals faster. By breaking down projects into smaller steps, you can ensure that you:
- Meet your goal in a timely fashion
- Don’t skip a step
- Communicate effectively with team members
- Set reasonable expectations for what you can accomplish in a specific period of time
While they will vary in complexity, action plans are good for small projects, large projects, projects that you complete on your own, and projects that involve other team members or individuals outside of your organization.
Convinced you need action plans in your life? Good. Let’s take a look at the steps necessary to implement them.
How to Write an Action Plan
Action plans can be as simple or complex as they need to be. However, before you start writing out the steps to reach your goal, you’ll need to identify something very important… your goal, of course!
What is it that you’d like to accomplish? Is there a new campaign you need to prepare before a specific launch date? Maybe you’re teaming up with another business or a nonprofit for cross-promotion. Perhaps you’re looking to increase brand awareness through various channels.
Whatever your goals, get very clear on what it is you want, why it’s important, and when you need it done. You may wish to create a SMART Action Plan by incorporating SMART goals into it. SMART stands for: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. This framework helps you determine if your goals are realistic, identify what actions are needed to reach your goals, and defines what success looks like.
Once you’ve determined what you want to accomplish and when it will need to be done, it’s time to start devising your plan. Follow these easy steps to create your plan of action.
- Use a template or tool to capture your action plan and share it with anyone who needs to be involved. (You’ll find some options in the next section)
- Brainstorm. Consider all the steps that need to get done to complete your project. You may find it helpful to start with larger aspects of the project and then break those down into smaller tasks. No task is too small to be listed (let’s be honest, checking things off a to-do list feels amazing).
- Delegate and assign responsibilities to team members. You don’t have to go it alone! Hopefully, you have a trustworthy team standing by to help complete tasks and inch you closer and closer to the finish line. This also allows you to identify what resources you need to achieve the goal.
- Schedule due dates. If your project needs to be done by a specific day (which it should or it could stretch on indefinitely), then each task will have its own due date. Keep in mind that some tasks can be worked on at the same time, while others will require that a previous task has been finished before you can start the new one.
- Set up alerts to keep yourself (and your team) on track. It’s very easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind and forget about a larger project looming in the distance. Use your scheduled due dates to set up reminders and pencil in time to work on specific tasks.
- Track your progress and check in with your team. Your action plan may have looked top-notch when you wrote it, but as you work through it, you may discover that things need to change. If you see that you’re falling behind in the tasks, it may be time to re-evaluate and potentially tweak your action plan.
- Celebrate. Completing a project is often cause for celebration, but don’t forget to review what worked and what didn't for a smoother project next time.
Leadership action plans will not only help you achieve your goals, but will also help your team be clear on what they need to do, and feel accomplished once they’ve done it. They will also serve to identify any weak links in your organization.
Action plan Formats may differ depending on the needs of our specific project, however, as long as you include the goal, the steps, the people involved, and the due dates, you’ll have a solid plan to work with.
Action Plan Templates
When you’re ready to create an action plan, there’s no need to start from scratch. There are a number of templates and examples available that will provide the framework you need to devise your marketing strategy.
Below, is an action plan example for a 30-60-90 Day onboarding plan. This can always be tweaked to onboard individuals into a marketing position, or to create a marketing plan for your organization.
A marketing action plan may be as simple as this template:
You can also use Hubspot’s Marketing Plan Generator to guide you along the way.
No matter how you do it, an action plan may take a little bit of time to create, however, you’ll save time, energy, and resources when you have a clear plan of action for your next project or campaign.