Case Studies


It's important to always be learning.

It's just as important to act upon what you learn.

About Us
Marketing Tools
Spam Test
In The News


by Keith Thirgood

A new year, a new decade, a new century, a new millennium (almost). I feel I should go for profundity like a Time editor or someone. Instead I'll just suggest we all try to throw out some of the old and bring in some of the new.

I'm sure you've made a few New Year resolutions, wrapped up with personal resolve and hope. But have you taken the time to do some reflecting and planning around your business? Planning is one of the key variables separating financially successful businesses from those who just scrape by.

It's been said that only five out of every 100 businesses have even basic plans. Yet, even the most basic plans make these businesses more successful than all the others that operate by the seat of their pants.

I've also witnessed the opposite result, from planning excesses. Companies who spent so much time, effort and money on their detailed plans, that they had too little left to carry out their plans. I've even seen where companies have failed by adhering too rigidly to their plans and missing market shifts, traps and opportunities.

So, what kind of planning should you be doing? The answer begins with reflecting on your business as it currently exists:

What do you like and dislike about your business as it stands?

To answer that question, assess every element of your business, from how you market, to how you work with clients, to how letters get typed and sent, down to the smallest detail.

Your focus should be on honest inspection—running all of your business activities through your personal filter. Your likes and dislikes reveal how well your business sits with your values.

Then, ask yourself: How can I build on, or do more of, the aspects of my business I like? How can I get rid of—or strictly limit—the parts of my business I don't like or I don't like doing personally?

This is the "vision thing". It's the most creative and the most critical part of the effort.

Examine issues like:

• Why you started your business and whether it (and you) are living up to your initial dreams.
• Are your efforts generating the emotional rewards, revenue and lifestyle you want?
• Are the rewards you're receiving worth the time, energy and money you're investing?
• Any other questions of this sort that come to mind.

Examining your general likes and dislikes, and delving more deeply into some of the specifics will find you ready to adjust your overall business mix.

For example, you may realise that it's time for you to hire part-time, clerical help to handle those chores you don't like doing, and to free you up to do more of what you like to do.

You may decide you need to eliminate certain kinds of business from your target market. Perhaps because they aren't as profitable—or as much fun—as others.

You may uncover a new opportunity by focusing on some activity that previously had a lower priority.

Or, you may discover something entirely unexpected. The point is to begin the process and see what it uncovers.

Also ask yourself hard questions about your marketing efforts. What worked and what didn't? What do you like doing and what don't you like doing?

There is no end to the questions you can ask, but at some point, you have to move on. Now you build your plan.

As you begin, it helps to have a few tools: a spreadsheet program, plenty of note paper and a calendar. The spreadsheet allows you to easily crunch any numbers involved in your "what if" scenarios. The note paper is where you argue out the pros and cons of your ideas, and the calendar is where you record what you are going to do and when.

You should be as precise as you can. If you want to begin a marketing campaign, you must begin to develop your materials far enough in advance to meet your launch time. In some cases, you may simply be creating general goals. For example, to give a speech once a quarter. At this point, you cannot know to whom you will speak.

You should be able to visualize where you could become too busy or not busy enough.

You will see where considerable preparation needs to be done, and where this sort of work is already complete.

The result is a blueprint that you can use to guide your activities over the new year.

And, by the time the millennium really begins January 1, 2001, you'll have left your less well prepared competitors in the dust of 2000.

Keith Thirgood is Creative Director of Capstone Communications, a marketing and design firm. He's also publishes this newsletter and is the president of the Association of Independent Consultants. He can be reached at (905) 472-2330 or e-mail him at .
Check out Capstone's website at

Read more Articles.
If you like these articles, subscribe to Capstone' Marketing Tip, our periodical marketing e-zine.

services | articles | case studies | portfolio | about us | links
newsletter | marketing tools | spam test | in the news | home

Copyright .

Send snail mail to:

Capstone Communications Group
15 Wilson Street
Markham, Ontario
Canada L3P 1M9

or call 905-472-2330 between 9 am to 5 pm Eastern Time.