Do you have a marketing plan for your training business?

Whether you’re just starting out or have been a freelance trainer for several years, a clear marketing plan is essential. It will not only show you what you should be doing to attract clients to your training business but will also keep you on track.

Additionally, having a marketing plan means that you can make the most of your budget. Every time at opportunity comes up, you just need to consider whether it fits in with the plan or whether it’s a potential distraction.

A marketing plan is really quite a simple document to produce.

There are far too many complicated templates that can be downloaded off the internet or got from a business book but feeling like you have to produce a 20-page document is a sure-fire way to kill your enthusiasm and make you skip the planning process altogether.

I prefer marketing plans that are much more straightforward.

There are only three questions that you need to answer in your marketing plan and they are:

1.  Where are you now?

2.  Where are you going?

3.  How are you going to get there?

And they need to be in this order.

Too many trainers jump into the “How are you going get there?” question and get bogged down with marketing strategies and tools that, frankly, may not help you a bit.

Where are you now?

Start with the easiest question of all “Where are you now?”. Not only will this help build your confidence up (after all, you should know the answer to this question without much thinking!), it will give you a baseline from where to start building.

If you’re already running a training business, you will probably want to jot down some of your key stats:

  • Number/value of new clients vs. repeat clients
  • Social media followers
  • Best marketing strategies to date
  • How many training contracts you’re currently managing
  • Most successful sources of new clients
  • How many affiliate trainers you currently work with
  • How many hours you’re currently working
  • Your income over the last 12 months
  • Your busiest and quietest times of the year

Have a think about your training services and what you need to sell to make your required income.

Where are you going?

The second question, “Where are you going?” is designed to focus you on targets and goals. After all, this is really what a marketing plan or strategy is about – identifying a route from where you are now to where you want to be and how you’re going to get there.

Jot down the answers to the following questions:

  • Where do you want to be this time next year?
  • How many training contracts do you want to be managing?
  • How many affiliate trainers do you want to be contracting work to?
  • What hours do you want to be working?
  • How much money do you want to be creating?

Your destination needs to specific. It needs to be something that you can measure. It’s got to have a timescale. And it’s got to be realistic and something that you know is achievable. (Yup, you’ve guessed it – it has to be a SMART goal!).

Once you have your SMART destination, you will find it far easier to answer the third and final question “How are you going to get there?”.

How are you going to get there?

This is perhaps the most important question to answer in your marketing plan. Having figured out where you are now and where you want to be, you will need to break down how you plan to move from A to B.

We need to focus on those SMART goals here. What can you do to create positive forward momentum in your business in a specific, realistic and measurable way?

It can be helpful to break things down into weekly, monthly and/or quarterly goals to keep you on track and stop you from getting overwhelmed.

For example, a long-term goal might be to raise your income by £5,000 over the next year, which would break down to £1250 per quarter. What would you need to do to achieve this? If you offer a training workshop, for example, could you run it one extra day a quarter in boost your earnings? If so, where do your workshop attendees usually come from? How do they hear about the workshop? What would be the best marketing approach to reach those people? Would it be Facebook ads, Facebook groups, Google ads or emailing your current mailing list, for example? If you have them, your existing ‘Where am I now?’ stats should help you work this out.

Pop a to-do list on your marketing plan, all made up of steps towards your wider goals. If something looks overwhelming, try to break it down into smaller components so that you can quickly see you’re making progress.

When was the last time you wrote a marketing plan?

My advice is to forget about mission statements, get to the basics and focus on what’s going to work for you on a day-to-day basis. Little steps can add up to huge step forward. Try to write a new marketing plan at least once a year and refer back to it often (again, at least once a quarter). Imagine your marketing plan is a route map, GPS for your business so remember to let it steer you. But if you spot a new path along your journey or decide to take a detour, your marketing plan can always change to suit your route.

Note: This article was first published in December 2008 and has been updated July 2020

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