One of the biggest mistakes we see companies making day in and day out is producing complicated marketing plans. Often, at large companies, there seems to be a running joke about marketing and strategic planning. Once or twice a year all of the executives go offsite to do their yearly planning. They sit in a room for a few days and then a few months later they present a 200-page document explaining the next 5, 10, or 15 years, all the key marketing objectives and the financials that go along with them.
Unfortunately, there are many things wrong with this type of planning:
- Often, the smartest people are not in the room.
- Marketing tactics are changing each year, if not each month. Even planning your marketing for the next five years is close to impossible.
- No one is reading 200-page documents.
At No Joke Marketing™ we believe in simplifying the marketing planning process. Simplicity allows for your marketing plan to be easily understood and conveyed to every troop you have on your side from the ground up.
We started off with 25 different areas and four pages of paper, but we felt like four pages were still too much. We conducted focus groups, interviewed business owners and marketers alike and came up with something we are very proud of.
We call it our Six Sentence Marketing Plan™. It fits neatly on one sheet of paper and even a napkin if you write really small. This is the tool we use across our consulting clients as well as for our educational seminars and events, it is the true cornerstone to our educational training.
Without further ado, here are the six sentences. I encourage you to take out a sheet of paper and craft yours right now:
Sentence #1 What do you want your prospects to do first?
How many radio ads do you hear that have five different calls to action? Call us at 1234…, visit our web site, stop on in, or check us out on social media. What do you want your prospects to do first? With a retail business, normally you want them to visit your retail location. If you are highly specialized, you may want them to call first to make an appointment. When you have your “first thing,” focus your marketing activities around that ONE action. Your radio ads should say stop in our store at 123 Highway Lane, and your website should have the address front and center, and say stop in now. Your social media should do the same. With all the marketing messages coming at your prospects each day, you do not want them guessing which action you are looking for them to do.
Sentence #2 Who are you trying to reach?
As always, the more specific the better. If you have a name and demographic for your customer, add all of that information in here as well. For example, her name is Anna, she has 2.5 kids (on average), she is between the ages of 28-35, likes to eat at nice restaurants and takes 3 vacations each year. The more laser targeted you are, the better. Unless you are a fortune 1000 firm with a huge budget, marketing to the universe just isn’t viable.
Sentence #3 Why are you better?
What makes you stand out? Why are people coming to you versus the competition? Often, companies will add in their core values as the reason they are better. Other times, there is one simplified reason they are better. For example: most options, lowest price, guaranteed. It’s ok to brag.
Sentence #4 What tactics are you going to use to get the word out?
List out everything you plan on doing from a marketing standpoint. For example, a website, toll free number, social media, email marketing, augmented reality, tradeshows, etc. List them all. The average business is using 10-15 tactics, however, we don’t like average. We recommend using 40-50.
Sentence #5 If your prospects could only remember one thing about you/your business what would it be?
This is where you get to go really deep. You only get one. They may remember more than one thing, but what is the one thing you want to drive home? For example: we treat you like you are family.
Sentence #6 How much are you willing to invest each month in marketing?
Marketing is an investment. It is one, if not the best, investment you can make in your business. If you are a startup, we recommend you have 20% of your projected gross sales for the year ready to go. So, for example, if you want to go from $0 to $125,000 in a year, you should be investing $2083/month in marketing ($25,000/year). If you are an established business, the number we recommend is 10-12%. Depending on how much you have been investing so far, you may see that as low or high. The way you grow a business is by investing more resources into marketing, plain and simple.
There you have it, your overarching marketing plan simplified to six sentences and one sheet of paper. The best part is that it is a plan that your company can easily understand and get behind. The only parts of the plan that should get adjusted as time goes on are the tactics and the investment piece. The other pieces should remain the same.
Most companies only need one of these plans, but there is one exception to that rule. If you have different business units or VERY different target prospects, you should craft a different plan for each. For example, your business may target both teens and their parents. In that case, a plan for each makes sense, but relax, it’s only another six sentences.
This Six Sentence Marketing Plan™ will serve as the overarching marketing strategy document for your company. In the next blog post, we will release our 12-Month No Joke Marketing Calendar. This calendar will work in tandem with the plan you just created.
Get to work! We would love for you to post your six sentence marketing plans below and are happy to provide comments and ideas.