marketing plan - Duct Tape Marketing

Tag Archives for " marketing plan "

14 What Kind of Business Should I Start?

The title to this post is a question I receive often. So many people want to start their own business these days but, are at a loss as to what to do.

It’s a tough question really and one that needs to be approached as many things in life – from a strategic standpoint first.

See a lot of folks just want to jump right into tactics – what’s hot, what can I make money doing, what are my skills, what’s my background – but that’s only part of the equation.

The first thing you must answer is this – What do I want out of life?

I know, I know, it’s only the biggest, scariest, hardest question on the planet and that’s why so many people just skip it.

Here’s how that applies to your business though.

There are two kinds of businesses, generally, from a strategic standpoint – the business of passion and purpose and the business of profit and practicality.

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53 The Cycle of Strategy

Effective strategy, be it marketing related or otherwise, is what really sets one company apart from another. I’m not really saying that every successful company plans and implements better strategy, in some cases strategy just happens because a market and a product find each other and grow organically.

spiral strategyHowever, small businesses that understand the power of an overarching marketing strategy, filtered and infused in every tactical process, will usually enjoy greater success.

The problem with strategy however, is that most people don’t really know what it is or, if they do, hobble its effectiveness by viewing its creation as something of a linear event – hold a planning retreat, decide on everything in a vacuum, report back next year.

I don’t think strategy works well like that. Strategy planning is an essential first step, but at best it’s guesswork. You’re obligated to do it to get the ball rolling, but not as some sort of final destination to act rigidly against. The value of a marketing plan and strategy comes into focus through the process of planning coupled with real world analysis and a willingness to shift your thinking as you go.

Strategy is more circular than most people view it. In fact, the upward spiral might actually be the best metaphor.

In my experience there are about seven steps in the ongoing planning and execution of a marketing strategy. When effectively viewed as a tool, these steps are never done, they are just waiting around for the next cycle. These cycles happen for one reason primarily – the market tells you the answer.

That answer can come in the form of growth, an opportunity to seize, or even an economic downturn. Either way, the circular motion needs to stay in tact.

I believe business owners need to continuously monitor these seven elements of the marketing strategy circle.

Who – Are you attracting the ideal customer and can you more narrowly define who that is?

What – Do you have a clear core point of differentiation? What is it and how are you communicating it?

The Plan – What action steps do you need to take today and tomorrow to bring your marketing strategy to life? What goals have your set for success of the strategy?

Execute – Are you executing against the plan?

Measure – What indicators need to be tracked and captured to allow you to determine your success?

Analyze – How will you analyze the data you collect to determine if you are on course, need to make alterations or even move towards a new opportunity?

Shift – How will you change course? How will you start the cycle over again?

Holding the guess, test, and realign state of mind when it comes to marketing strategy is the one of the surest ways to successfully tap the power of effective growth by way of planning.

Image credit: ZeroOne

29 I Don't Have Time for Marketing

The preposterous sounding title of this post is a direct quote from the lips of many a small business owner I have encountered. The root of this problem of course can be summed up nicely in something known as Parkinson’s Law

Parkinson’s Law is the adage that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” It was first articulated by Cyril Northcote Parkinson, appearing as the first sentence of a humorous essay published in The Economist in 1955.

The Law is as alive and well in the small business as it may be in the halls of the largest bureaucracy on the planet. So, the key to effective marketing may simply be a matter of defining the right work to fill up the time available.

Marketing is and must become a habitual activity in your business. You must live by the marketing calendar or die by the lack of time available to complete the greasing of the squeaky wheel.

The only way to find time for marketing is to plan for it. Create a marketing theme for every month of the year and then build marketing activities on a daily and weekly basis around the theme.

You know you need to be sending out more press releases and building relationships with key journalists in your industry – make that September’s theme and do it. You know you need to build a network of strategic partners to make your referral leads really soar – make that October’s theme. You know you need a blog, you need to start blogging as a part of your Internet presence – make that November’s theme.

Create the biggest, most hard to ignore wall calendar you can find and post your year of marketing themes. Then break each month down into the action steps needed to make progress on the monthly theme. Finally, assign yourself or someone on your team daily action steps, appointments really, and then complete the daily marketing action before you pass Go or return another email.

That’s how you make time for marketing, that’s how you build marketing momentum and that’s how you make marketing expand to fill the time available for its completion.

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12 How Complex Should a Marketing Plan Be?

To get to the heart of the question in the title I guess we first need to agree that a marketing plan is an important small business tool.

Marketing planI think it’s essential and here’s why. Creating a marketing strategy that really allows you to build marketing momentum and then surrounding that strategy with the right tactics to amplify it requires some time, energy, thinking, research and a dash of luck.

The best thing a marketing plan – or should I say it more correctly – a marketing planning process can do is force you to sit and ask yourself hard questions, questions you may not have a ready answer to, questions you never thought to think about.

The plan itself is secondary quite often, the planning process is where the headway actually gets made.

With that in mind, and back to my original question, the plan then should be simple as possible, but not too simple. (to quote Albert Einstein)

In terms of the actual document that you might use to inform and direct your annual, as well as day to day, marketing activity, a one page plan might suffice. However, getting to one page, likely will involve a process that may take several weeks or months and a draft plan of many pages and sections.

It’s a bit like carving I suppose. The finished piece will be a simple expression of a process that took a great deal of effort, but that’s how the beauty in the stone is found.

And that planning process and subsequent plan should lead you to a brilliant understanding of:

  • Who makes an ideal customer for your business
  • You core message of differentiation and brand
  • The necessary education based marketing materials
  • Your multi pronged lead generation plan
  • Your non-selling lead conversion system
  • Your plan to harness the Internet and technology
  • Your weekly and monthly marketing calendar and budget
  • Your plan to measure, adjust and update the plan.

Look for more on this in the coming months as I release a marketing planning software tool based on Duct Tape Marketing in conjunction with the great folks as Palo Alto Software.