Planning the Design and the Marketing of a Site

I’m beginning the process of revamping in several different areas to get it ready for an all out big boost in marketing. Most of the improvements will involve switching from paid subscriptions to an entirely free service, supported with Google Adsense which is already makin’ lots of sweets. Features will be added, changed, and moved around. We’re probably the only social networking site on the Internet that charges for extra features.

For its entire life (about 6 years), there’s been zero marketing. It went from 200-400 online at any time during the day (purely from word of mouth, before Facebook circa 2006), to 20-50 now. In addition to over 38,000 “It’s been a while since you’ve logged in! Come back!” emails that will be sent out on marketing day 1, they’ll be Facebook Ads, Google Ads, StumbleUpon Ads, and AdBrite Ads running.

Now that you have the background, my question involves planning. Right now, I think I have a pretty good idea about what I ‘want’, but I need tips on how to ‘plan’ to get to where I need to be. I want to know how you do your own planning. Do you just sit down and write out steps on a piece of paper? A general outline? Are there helpful apps that you use to layout and follow a plan? Should the design and marketing plan be kept separate?

I ask four questions, What, How, Why, and When. What and when is my goal. It’s best to have one, solid, measurable goal with a timeline on it. Increase customers is bad. Increase unique daily visits to 100 in 3 months is good. Then answer how you are doing it. What are the steps you will take to reach this goal. Then answer why each of these steps will lead you to this goal.

SOmetimes for the goal, I’ll have a large, overall one and then individual ones leading to that overall goal.

Hope this helps.