Failing to plan is almost always disastrous!
Ask yourself these basic questions:
- Do you have something (product / service / convenience) of value to sell online?
- Who do you think wants to buy (or might be willing to pay for) it?
- How do you propose to sell (or get paid for) it?
Internet Marketing (i.e. the art and science of selling stuff online) is, by definition, a global activity. Or to put it another way, if an idea or product can be displayed in someone else’s web browser, then assume that just about everyone on the planet can see it. Eventually.
Why is recognition of this “global reach” so important? For the same reason that “brick and mortar” businesses have long recognized, i.e. that the wider your potential customer base, the greater your need for clarity about your goal as well as your direction of travel. Enter, strategic planning! This is perhaps best summed up by the following:
“Strategic planning is an important part of running any business and the more so for businesses that operate in multiple states and countries.” ~~ James D. Sinegal, Costco Founder (1936 – ).
In every walk of life, not having a plan is easily proved to be a particularly foolish (and ultimately expensive) way to do things. The plan doesn’t have to be overly formal, or try to rival “War & Peace” in its verbosity. But it has to be clear! Because the clearer it is, the easier it will be to follow it adequately. Plus the exercise of planning is known to be beneficial not only for the output, i.e. the plan(s), but perhaps more importantly for the fact that it forces you, the Internet Marketer, to think through your whole business idea and all associated processes, before you actually spend a penny on web hosting, PLR ebooks or membership subscriptions.
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Internet Marketing (IM) planlessness is exactly the same (at least in its consequences) as going to war (or playing chess) without a viable (battle) plan. It is a recipe for total annihilation of one’s army, nothing less! Some of the greatest minds in history have highlighted the dangers of planlessness, but one of the most pointed statements on this is: “Whatever failures I have known, whatever errors I have committed, whatever follies I have witnessed in private and public life have been the consequence of action without thought.” ~~ Bernard M. Baruch (1870 – 1965).
In my experience, the reasons most of us fail to plan are (in random order of deadliness):
- Panic: A broke and harassed person, perhaps recently without a job, has to do something, and IM is frequently touted (and seen) as the magic pill “that cures all (financial) ills”, regardless of one’s skill, effort or preparedness! This makes it particularly attractive to anyone in dire straits, and since the need to start making money quickly is overwhelming, there is little time or scope for proper planning.
- Ignorance: No one in their right mind thinks of driving cross-country without knowing (or researching) where they’re going and mapping out how to make the journey; so it should not be surprising that having a proper map of the business journey is not only desirable, but an absolute necessity!
- Carelessness: It’s not difficult to see why neglecting to do the necessary steps in an important task can easily result in abject failure, if not outright disaster! Just think of a surgeon who doesn’t ensure that what is being taken out of the patient is what caused the patient’s illness. Did someone ask, “Is there a lawyer in the house?”
- Haplessness: Buffoonery (or even incompetence) can be funny, but generally only in a circus or on the screen (big or small). Exhibit that trait in running your business, and market dynamics will very quickly wipe the smile off your face!
- Confusion: Sometimes we are just plain confused about how (much) to plan the new venture (or an expansion of an existing one). Usually, the confusion relates to the type of planning required, rather than whether to plan at all. Again it should be self-evident that that state of mind can lead to no real good, as it suggests a fundamental lack of readiness for the venture.
- Laziness: We love short-cuts, but there are situations where they are best avoided; this is one of such.
- Lack of time: Not allowing enough time for your preparation for the business usually means that you’re unlikely to have allowed enough time for doing the things that will make profit in that business. It’s almost like basing your business strategy on hope; not a sensible choice of ‘fuel’ for your IM ‘car’, since it will evaporate before powering the engine to get you from where you are to where you want to be.
For an IM’er (as with every business owner), the wages (pun intended) of planlessness is death (of the business or idea), but what is more, it’s likely to be a slow, painful and costly demise. Baldly put, it will be a miserable death, and therefore is to be avoided at all costs (pun also intended).
“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
How is this fate to be avoided? By taking the advice offered by none other than Benjamin Franklin (1706 – 1790): “I have always thought that one man of tolerable abilities may work great changes, and accomplish great affairs among mankind, if he first forms a good plan, and, cutting off all amusements or other employments that would divert his attention, make the execution of that same plan his sole study and business.” In other words, devise a viable plan, then follow it! A good plan in average hands is much more profitable than planlessness (i.e. “hot air”) in the hands of a genius, even one with loads of “money to burn”.
As already observed, what sets a successful IM’er apart from an also-ran (or IM failure) is the plan, especially the viable plan that is rigorously followed!
The very intriguing thing is, even if your plan is flawed, you’re better off with it than without. Why? Because you stand a much better chance of accurately unpicking your failures (i.e. understanding where/how things went wrong), than if you were to do the same postmortem without the aid of your business blueprint. This is essentially why financiers lay so much store on the business plan; they know it will not (and perhaps cannot) be perfect, but without it, you’re really and truly up the river without a paddle (much less a rudder)!
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