If you haven’t done a marketing plan because you feel overwhelmed — join the club! I recently heard from Ann Brinkerhoff, a credit union president, about her experiences with putting a marketing plan together with her management team. She was kind enough to write her story out and I thought it would be fun to share it with you so that you can see how she and her team adapted a marketing template I created back in 2008 in an article called “The One Page Marketing Plan Anyone Can Use” for Small Business Trends.

Last April the Board of Directors of our small credit union met for a strategic planning session. We did a SWOT analysis and talked about what we wanted the credit union to look like in a year, 5 years from now and 10 years from now. One of the goals that came out of that process was to create a marketing committee who would then create a marketing plan. No one questioned our need to market, but only having three employees limited our ability to spend a lot of time doing anything but helping members and the unusually low interest rates limited the amount of money we could spend. So the real task was to create a plan that took no time and used little money. Perfect.

The marketing committee was formed from members of our Board of Directors. It included a contract specialist, an engineer, an economist and me, a credit union president. The amount of marketing experience in the group was astounding!? OK, not so much. We met and came up with unbelievably funky and original ideas. OK, not so much. We met. And we met. We came up with good ideas, but nothing ever moved forward because we couldn’t seem to organize the ideas into any type of plan. We didn’t know how.

In an effort to bring order out of chaos, I turned to the place where I knew there would be astonishing knowledge, Harvard Business School. I’m kidding. I clicked on Google and typed in, ?short marketing plan. Up popped several options but the one that intrigued me was an article by Ivana Taylor written in 2008 entitled, ?One Page Marketing Plan. One page? Cool. I might be able to squeeze in time to complete the number of items contained on one page. Then I was even more encouraged when Ivana compared marketing to planning a party. I could do this. I already knew how to plan a party.

After reviewing several plans and ideas, I chose to start with a template from Ivana?s article that she loosely adapted from notions learned from Philip Kotler and Michael McLaughlin. I felt the thought-provoking questions that progressed from general to specific would help us focus our attention on the important things like defining who we are, who our immediate target audience is, what we want our audience to know about us and what vehicles we intend to use to tell them. I hoped it would be like jumping from one stone to another so it wouldn?t be so overwhelming. I then made the plan even more specific by adding a month by month planning calendar.

It worked!? Well, so far. Just the process of working through the plan with some of my board members proved to be immensely valuable. We now have a clear purpose and a list of items to do for each month. I don’t have to constantly worry about what programs we are going to offer and how we are going to market them anymore. There is a list and I am a list queen. In fact, we revised the original template to resemble a list. And quite honestly, as soon as the list was formed, it wasn’t that hard to roll up our sleeves, get to work and let the party roll.