updated 9/14/2013 8:45:25 AM ET 2013-09-14T12:45:25

The following is the eleventh and last article in the series " Marketing Like the Big Brands," in which marketing expert Jim Joseph shows entrepreneurs on a small-business budget how to apply marketing strategies used by big brands.

Setting goals is crucial to the success of your brand and as a small-business owner, the responsibility falls squarely on your shoulders. That said, your day is probably filled with important tasks like solving problems and fulfilling customers ' needs real-time. 

I can relate. Running my own agency, As hard as I try, I still find myself putting out day-to-day fires more often than I'm actually doing long-term strategic planning.

The big brands spend a lot of time planning, probably too much, to be honest. They have planning sessions to talk about how to plan. They hire teams of people whose job it is to plan.

And they are on to something. Without setting goals, we are just living moment-to-moment, crisis-to-crisis. You won't get ahead if you manage your business that way.

The good news is: a little bit of planning can go a long way, no matter how busy we are. It's important to get past the day-to-day and do a little planning, at least beyond the next few weeks or months where we tend to concentrate most of our effort. You can't have a plan without goals so let's start by setting some.

Big picture questions.
When setting your goals, think far out and ask yourself some key questions:

  • What do you want your business to look like five, ten or even fifteen years from now?
  • What's the finish line for your business?
  • What do you want to accomplish?

Without setting these goals, your brand will be purposeless. On the other hand, clearly articulated goals can get you get beyond the current issues and complete long-term accomplishments.

The year ahead.
It's never too early to start anticipating and planning what you want to accomplish in the next twelve months. I recommend you also plan for the year after as well, so you can see beyond the one year horizon. Some goals take a little longer to achieve, and we have to plan far ahead to make them happen.

A three-year plan.
Ideally, I recommend a three-year plan, which will give you concrete steps to make your long-term vision come to life.

Your marketing plan should be no more than five or six pages, nothing more complicated is required. If you make the planning too much work, you'll never get it done. A focused concise plan is so much better than a drawn-out one or none at all.

Your three-year plan should become a living, breathing document of what the business is all about, what needs to get accomplished over the short and long term. This three-year plan should also include all the lessons you've learned along the way, with revised thinking about your business as a result.

Do this exercise annually, and not only will you have an incredible brand experience for the customer, but a great growth surge for your business.

It's been incredibly rewarding putting together this series of branding articles for I invite you to engage in my next series focused on personal branding that kicks off next week. See you there!

Copyright © 2013, Inc.


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