When Alice fell down the rabbit hole, she asked the Cheshire Cat, “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

“I don’t much care where …” said Alice.

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat. “… so long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation.

“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”

Unfortunately, the vast majority of us are like Alice. We put a lot of effort into going anywhere.

I’m not going to kid you. Reading this article is not going to lead you to success. What will allow you to take a giant leap, however, is taking the time to really work through each of the five questions posed here. These apply to owners, principals, sales managers, salespeople and really anybody. For any part of your life—not just business, but your relationships, your family, and your spiritual and personal development— these questions will invite introspection and help you discover your best self.

1 What Am I Building? If you haven’t determined what success looks like, how will you know when you get there? Get very clear on this and be wildly optimistic. Don’t limit yourself. Describe your dream. Be passionate and paint a detailed picture of what you want. Imagine the possibilities and ask, “what if?” and “why not?” The future you deserve is right there for the taking. Grab it.

2 Why Am I Doing This? Do you know your “why”? Marketing consultant and author Simon Sinek says, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Let me stop you right here. The answer is not “to make money.” Making money is a result, not a reason. For example, my personal “why” statement is “to inspire and challenge people so that we can reach our full potential.” Make it short and memorable, communicating your focus and the impact you make on others. It will reflect your driving values and the highest good you can achieve. It may even communicate what it does for your soul.

3 What Results Will I Measure? As we stand on the doorstep of another new year, think about the celebration dinner you’ll host a bit more than a year from now—in January 2019. What will you be toasting? Yes, we’re talking about your objectives. The purpose of each of your objectives is to mobilize you to take meaningful action. Where your answer to the first question is expansive and idealistic, and the answer to the second is short, powerful and customer-focused—your objectives must be designed to focus your resources on achieving specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-based results (SMART). These objectives may be financial, sales-specific, peopleoriented or personal but they must be aligned and relevant to your why and your what.

4 How Will I Build It? Your answers to this question will describe how you will be successful over time. They will set the direction, philosophy, values and methodology for building your business or your life. They will be the basis of not just your to-do list but also your “stop doing” list and your “don’t even think about it” list. Your thought process must go to what you love, what clients you love, what you’re best at, what works and how to do more of that. Think also about the opposites and how to do less of those. You’re probably familiar with the SWOT analysis. What are your strengths? Do more of those. What are your weaknesses? Do fewer of those. What opportunities should you be taking advantage of? What are the immediate and future threats to your business? How can you best prepare to meet them and beat them?

5 What Is The Work I Need To Do Now? You know what you’re building, why you’re building it, what needs to be measured and how you’re going to accomplish it. The final question is: what do I need to do to take the first steps? The plans you create here are the specific actions that must be implemented to achieve the objectives. Each must relate to what you’re measuring and how you are going to do it. They must be action-oriented, specific and have deadlines. The intent is to keep your focus on the important but not necessarily the urgent tasks. What projects will make a big difference in your business or life? What are the next three steps to make them happen?

You’ve Just Created A Simple Marketing Plan
Your first answer is your vision statement. Why you are building it is your mission statement. You’ve identified your objectives and strategies to make it happen. Now you have the plans to make your dreams a reality. Don’t allow yourself to get distracted or sidetracked. Use your plan to guide your decisions and keep you on track all year long. You now know where you are going, how to get there and the steps needed to take you there. So, climb out of your rabbit hole, quit asking Cheshire Cats for directions and follow your path to success in the new year.


Good Answers!
Here are some of my favorite answers to the five questions in the article.

Vision Statement: What Are We Building?
»»To create a peaceful, abundant life with confidence, patience and passion as I build
my business by providing influential tools for building brands and businesses with the
most cost effective, memorable and long-lasting solutions to results-oriented, trusting
and trustworthy people and organizations.

»»My business will be appreciated and respected for demonstrating high standards of creativity,
design excellence, innovative thinking, loyalty, honesty, dependability and value-creation.

Mission Statement: Why Are We Building It?
»»We enjoy creating success.

Objectives: What Results Will We Measure?
»»Reach annual gross revenues of at least $XX by the end of the calendar year.
»»Maintain a gross profit level of a minimum of 37 percent on our sales for the year.
»»Maintain a lean, efficient office staff and keep overhead low by maintaining the current staffing level through this growth period.
»»Reduce the number of “bad orders” (orders that cause client anxiety or result in financial
loss to the company) by 30 percent.
»»Obtain Certified Advertising Specialist designation in 2018 and Master Advertising Specialist certification in 2020.
»»Identify 10 current clients and grow business within these accounts by 10 percent each year.
»»Identify and maintain 10 “target” prospects and turn three of them into new clients this year.
»»Retire lines of credit and loans by December 31, 2019.

Strategies: How Will We Build It?
»»Develop a series of workshops, white papers and customer luncheons to position our company as a promotion marketing expert.
»»Participate in healthcare industry trade shows and fairs, and advertise in hospital trade publications.
»»Sell total solutions and programs rather than products.
»»Hire for values, train for success. Retain through satisfaction and purpose.
»»We will review our order processing systems and implement a plan for increased efficiency and reduced errors.

Plans: What Is The Work We Need To Do Now?
»»Review website: upgrade the experience to make it fun, worthwhile and informative for visitors. Upgrade the shopping experience.
»»Define target accounts and deliver marketing based on ratings.
»»Plan monthly mailings. Make the content relevant, fun, interesting and reflective of your personality.
»»Social media strategy: create consistent engagement through Facebook, reinforce the fun factor.
»»Spend one hour per week on your blog, YouTube channel, SlideShare, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
»»Send out a spec sample or a virtual sample to two A-level prospects and to one B-level prospect every week.

Hear It Live At Expo
Hear Paul Kiewiet, MAS+, CIP, CPC, present this topic live during The PPAI Expo 2018 at the Mandalay Convention Center in Las Vegas. His session is on at 1:30 pm Monday, January 15 and is free to members and to nonmembers with a ticket. Find details at www.expo.ppai.org/education.

Paul A Kiewiet, MAS+, is the executive director of the Michigan Promotional Products Association and an industry coach and consultant. He is an inductee into the PPAI Hall of Fame and former PPAI chairman of the board.