Create a marketing plan you’ll actually use

Want to improve your marketing? Write a marketing plan you’ll actually use day in, day out to achieve your business goals. Here’s how to develop a marketing plan exactly like that:

  1. Unlearn what you know about marketing plans. Common marketing plan wisdom says: “Shiny is good. Formatting is good. Clever deployment is good.” Instead, successful marketing is not about doing something clever but rather about communicating something meaningful in a way that reaches your audience.
  2. Stick to media that’s worked, but save room to experiment. Experiment with one or two new ideas but don’t break the creativity bank each time. It never works. Don’t feel like you’ve failed because you chose tried-and-true marketing ideas like newspaper ads and press releases and branded schwag over something more outrageous.
  3. Create an Idiot’s Guide. Marketing plans tend to be about ideas and justification first and about “how will we actually do this?” a distant last. Justification is important but should play a brief role up-front while the bulk of your plan should be devoted to a PLAN. Create a step-by-step, no-brainer, “complete idiot’s guide” to doing what you need to do. Make it so simple that you could delegate it to your kid on “take your child to work day”. Put in the phone number of the person to call who will actually print your branded schwag, along with the location of the high resolution logo file you’ll need to send to them. If your marketing plan includes topical marketing like blogs and press releases, write the subjects into the plan.
  4. White paper, staple, done. Skip the slides, skip the expensive coil-ring binding. Print it on white, 20 pound bond 8.5 x 11 and blast a staple through the corner. Save time and money and put your efforts into deploying your plan.

The perfect marketing plan is a dog-eared, coffee-ring-stained, highlighted, notes-in-the-margin, sticky-noted document that is used daily and never leaves your desk.

The perfect plan can be handed off to someone else with the comment: “I stopped on page 11. If you can start on page 12 and just follow the instructions, we’ll have more business than we can handle next year.”

That’s a perfect marketing plan. I get goose bumps thinking about it. Do you?

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