Do you have a marketing plan? Is it a marketing plan you actually use to guide your promotional activities, move your business forward and make sure you’re on track? Or is it some big, hairy document you put together way back when you started your business and filed away, never to see the light of day again?
I firmly believe a marketing plan should be a document that lives and breathes from a prominent place in your office so you can refer to it on an ongoing basis. And in my experience, the most effective marketing plans are those that are one to two pages in length.
Yes. For real.
Most traditional marketing plans have the same elements:
- Executive Summary
- SWOT Analysis
- Target Audience Information
- Competitor Analysis
- Marketing Tactics
- Action Plan
And all of these things are important in a marketing plan. However, in the traditional format, marketing plans are often dozens of pages in length. They sit at the back of an even longer business plan document, and instead of being something you refer to regularly, just sit around gathering dust.
The thing you need to keep in mind here is that a marketing plan is a plan! I don’t know about you, but I do much better following a simply laid out plan than I do with a 30-page plan. Whether it’s a recipe, a business plan, or an emergency evacuation document … a plan needs to be simple to be successful.
Your marketing plan should be something you can easily modify on the fly (you want to be able to roll with the punches and change as technology does), and it should be something you’ll be able to stick to.
So … I challenge you to take out that old business plan (if you can even find it), and see what you can do to freshen it up and condense it into a one page, guiding document. If you have no marketing plan at all, then this is a great time for you to write one!
Here are some tips for you to remember when writing your one-page marketing plan.
Skip the long-winded Executive Summary. This document is for you and your core team members. You don’t need a three-page executive summary. An opening line or two that describes your business is fine here. For example: Acme Vacuum Cleaners have the ability to clean dry and wet messes on carpets, hard-surface flooring, walls and ceilings. We focus on the wholesale/construction market. Or in the case of my business … BizEase Support Solutions partners with professional speakers and business coaches to provide seamless online marketing support and implementation services so they can get back to doing what they do best. We help them turn time into money! That’s all you need here to focus in on the core of what your business is about. The rest of the document should be all about your plan!
The SWOT Analysis is a very important part of this plan. I suggest you do some brainstorming and take notes on paper so you have something to refer to and don’t miss anything important. Really, just sit down and think about the CORE strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of your business. I like using a table format for these in the one-page marketing plan to conserve space and keep it simple. For our Acme example, that SWOT may look something like this:
Strengths: Versatile, American made, 100-year warranty, solar-powered, easy to store
Weaknesses: High price point, Competitive industry
Opportunities: To cash in on green energy market
Threats: Loss of manufacturing plant
The SWOT analysis really helps set the tone for your plan, and helps you identify which areas to concentrate on with your marketing.
Your Target Audience info is where you narrow down your target audience as much as you can in a sentence or two. No need for big demographic studies here, people. Keep it simple. Acme’s target audience might be: a) North American construction retailers b) Homeowners in the western US with a combined annual household income of $200,000 c) Environmental activists in Canada. Again, this information is to help you to keep things in focus when you’re making a plan to reach these people.
Then comes the Competitor Analysis. On the same notepad you used to break down your SWOT, make a list of your competitors and see what they’re doing with their marketing. Identify what they’re doing wrong, what they’re doing right, and where they’re leaving money on the table you can pick up. Condense that into a line or two and add it to your plan. Example: Top competitors include Whosthat and Whatnot; both American companies focusing on the North American market. We feel with focused effort, we can be stronger with our social media efforts than both companies (combined, both companies have a social media following of 40,000); so that is where we will concentrate our efforts.
The Marketing Tactics part of your plan is going to be the meatiest. In a simple list form, lay out where you plan to market, and how. For example:
Website/blog: We will invest in a website high on graphics and video, and maintain a weekly blog where we share tips for homeowners.
Social media: We will focus on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, but will also have a presence on YouTube, Snapchat, and LinkedIn. Activities will drive followers to our email list.
Email marketing: We will send a daily tip for homeowners that will be super useful and fun.
See how this is going? Simple, quick, and dirty.
Now for your Action Plan. My suggestion is to make it a monthly plan so you force yourself to return to your plan and update it on a regular basis.
Simply look at the month ahead, decide which dates you’ll be publishing blog posts, when you’re posting on Facebook, how many videos you need to record, how many accounts you’re going to follow on Twitter and when, and so on.
Within an hour or so, you’ll be looking at a functional and practical one-page marketing plan to grow your business while keeping you focused.
What sort of marketing plan do you have?
Also published on Medium.