Everyone needs at least a one-page marketing plan
I recently spent a day creating a training course on marketing planning that I was to deliver for another organiser. Unfortunately the course was cancelled (whether it was the subject or poor selling that put people off I don't know for sure) but, more fortunately, my time was not wasted. I may well use the content in another event but, more importantly, it encouraged me to do something I had been meaning to do for a long, long time - create a one-page marketing plan!
Not an earth-shattering invention you might say, and certainly not unique. But it's my own take on the idea of simplifying the whole marketing plan output and creating something that ultimately fulfils its objective because it gets used. So I'm going to put it out there, run it up the flagpole, and see what you loyal blog readers have to say about it.
If anyone has any refinements to suggest they are more than welcome - as long as they have the 'KISS' factor (see Jim's earlier blog)! It would be great to be able to evolve this tool through real testing and feedback.
I have one major health warning to add at this point, before we get carried away, - creating a one-page plan is not as simple as it sounds. Sorry! The hard fact is that, although you may be able to put your conclusions and actions succinctly into one page, the real hard work in planning is in the process. You will undoubtedly know a lot about your own market and products, but you need to sort that knowledge, filter it, fill in the gaps and then draw appropriate conclusions in order to have a sound basis for your planning. Tough, but there it is!
Nevertheless, I figure that some of what puts people off doing a marketing plan is the idea that they have to write a report that will run into several pages. And that thought stops them even getting started. As I said, you can't get away without the thinking but you can get away without the writing - that's what one-page planning gives you permission to do.
Only this week I read a Real Business article that said that small businesses trust their gut over data when it comes to decision-making. According to a survey only 10 per cent of respondents associate business decisions with hard data. And less than a third of SMEs are using reporting tools (i.e. sales forecasting, financial, business analytics or business intelligence) when making a business decision. Mind you, it doesn't worry them, because 75% reported being very confident in their decisions.
Now I'm a big fan of gut instinct but it's always worth checking out your instincts and assumptions. On one of our coaching courses recently an attendee had an epiphany when she realised 90% of her business was coming from the people she was concentrating on only 20% of the time! Data can do that for you - and believe me her action plan from then on looked quite different.
Back to the plan. It has the basic building blocks of analysis and planning, including dependencies and resources:
- Business objectives (why you are doing this)
- The offer (value proposition)
- Target market (who are you talking to)
- Marketing objectives (translated from the business objectives)
- Marketing budget (an essential factor)
Most importantly it then identifies what is going to be done, by who and when across the marketing mix: product, price, place promotion (the 4ps).
In forthcoming blogs I'm going to tackle each of these sections in turn, looking at some tools that will help in analysis (or checking gut instinct), so don't worry if this seems overly simplistic at this stage. I think if you worked through each section at an hour a week creating a marketing plan would seem much less painful - and less of a slog to fit into a busy working week.
In the meantime please download the template, try it out (or imagine using it) and let me know what you think. Would a one-page plan help you - or is that still too much of a stretch?