Does your business have a marketing plan? If so, how long is it?
If you listen to experts — like those at the Small Business Administration — you’ve probably heard that your marketing plan needs to be at least 50 pages. And if you have more, that’s OK too. The longer the better, because it will seem to be more comprehensive.
But what if you could fit all of your marketing plans onto a single piece of paper?
A one page marketing plan can not only streamline your operations, but provide remarkable clarity as to what’s actually happening in your business, rather than what you think is happening.
What is a Marketing Plan?
As the name states, a marketing plan is simply a high-level view of all the ways your business will advertise its services or products.
This includes not only your website, but social media, email, print media, and radio/TV advertisements.
It’s intentionally broad, because the way that a business performs their marketing activities changes from industry to industry.
Marketing represents an enormous chunk of most business’ budgets (outside of salaries). Understanding where that money goes can go a long way towards improving your bottom line simply by plugging up all the holes in your balance sheet.
A good marketing plan will be detailed enough to show what your business plans to do to generate interested leads and drive sales.
This includes market research, messaging and platform, as well as what metrics will be monitored to measure success rates.
Depending on the goal, you can either have a one page marketing plan for the entire business, or a single promotion.
Regardless, each one should outline your strategy for a specific time period — monthly, quarterly, or yearly.
Include the activities you’re currently participating in (and plan to continue), along with which ones you’ll add to the pipeline.
Why Do I Need a Marketing Plan?
According to at least one study, nearly half of all small businesses don’t have a marketing plan at all.
Why they choose not to have one varies — time constraints, lack of understanding, no intent to market — but even a little bit of marketing effort can go a long way.
That same study showed that 81% of businesses who invested at least 5% of revenue into marketing reported revenue growth.
What’s the point? You need to be intentional about every part of your business’s operations, but especially when it comes to marketing.
A thorough marketing plan will force your business to be honest about where that money is going. It creates 100% transparency, and (hopefully) nixes those backroom arguments about why this department needs more money than the other.
Everything is laid out and agreed upon on regular intervals — take it or leave it.
Having a reliable plan also allows you to manage your resources effectively.
Is your company really profiting from Facebook and Google ads, or would you be better off investing in traditional print media?
Only by monitoring where your business has been can you hope to maximize whatever marketing investment you’re currently making.
Is a One Page Marketing Plan Possible?
With all this talk about the importance of marketing plans, is it even possible to fit all of this material on a single page?
Not only is it possible, but some would argue that it’s absolutely necessary to survive in today’s business climate.
There are several arguments people make for this, but it all boils down to a couple key principles:
If It’s Not Simple, It Won’t Work
How many times have you sat down with your team to outline a marketing strategy, only to have everyone’s hobby horses find their way into the plan?
If you follow the SBA’s advice above and actually have a 30-50 page marketing plan, it’ll have so many components it’ll be nearly impossible to follow.
It is possible to have so many details that people just ignore the plan altogether. A 1 page marketing plan avoids that completely.
It Covers Only the Foundations
There’s absolutely no way your marketing plan will cover everything it needs to cover, so why try?
Instead of making a 50-page sophisticated marketing plan that posits exact scenarios, lay out guidelines (along with measurable marketing goals) and let your team work creatively.
Giving them a few foundational points will allow them the freedom to not only focus on what’s most important, but make sure those are taken care of in the end.
What’s Included on a One Page Marketing Plan?
When you and your team decide to get all of the marketing information on a single page, the hardest part won’t be deciding what to include, but what to leave off.
Sure, you could use a size 4 font to get everything on the page, but it kinda defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?
For that reason, a 1 page marketing plan should cover some very simple topics (while also allowing for these topics to be elaborated on later). Below are some of the most important; use it as a single page marketing plan template when generating ideas.
Even if you’ve already decided on which product you want to market (or if you’re creating a strategy for the brand), you still have to put some work in to make it feasible.
For starters, you need to clearly outline the value proposition of your item or service. In keeping with the theme of “brevity” here, try to get it compartmentalized into one sentence. Some of the questions you may be asking include:
- How is it different than others on the market today?
- How will it impact your potential customers’ lives?
- Why have they not purchased before?
- What is the quality level an existing customer expects?
Apple answered all of these questions (and more) when they introduced the iPod.
In 2001, Steve Jobs hopped on stage at the company’s Infinite Loop campus and announced a new device that promised to put a “thousand songs in your pocket.” Six words that changed the music industry forever.
When you’re considering your product, don’t just think about what it is, think about how it will change people’s lives.
Your audience is anyone who will buy your product, period. It doesn’t have to be more complicated than that.
We try to make it more complicated when we include hyper-specific demographic data and consumption habits, but for the sake of a simple marketing plan, dial it back a bit.
Instead of focusing on the nooks and crannies of your target audience, develop a single customer persona of your typical target market.
Give that person a name, and discuss among yourselves where that person lives, what they do for a living, and how likely they are to purchase your product. If they’re not willing to buy it at all, why not?
Beyond this, ask who your product will benefit the most. In actuality, your target market may not be who is currently buying your product, but an as-yet undefined segment.
Netflix went through this several years ago when they noticed the market trending from mail order to digital streaming.
The customer base was getting younger, people wanted to watch more content, and were even willing to take a chance on original content. This changed Netflix’s plan, to the tune of a nearly $150 billion valuation.
In your marketing plan, ask yourself, who needs my product the most? Then compare that with who is actually buying it, and craft your strategy based on that Venn diagram.
How will you reach those people who need or want your product? Will you focus on content marketing and add in a social media channel later? Direct response marketing and email marketing, perhaps?
These days, it’s not uncommon for businesses to have several different platforms that they’re trying to optimize.
They have a Facebook page, an email list, a brick-and-mortar store, a website, and affiliate channels. All of them are effective, and all of them need to be fed. How do you fit a plan for all of them on a single page?
You don’t. Instead of planning an individual strategy for each platform, decide on 1 or 2 tactics, then discuss how each platform will help to meet that goal.
For instance, you may choose to drive traffic via an affiliate network. If so, create a webpage and social media posts advertising those incentives.
Also discuss any kind of promotions or pricing that you may use to create growth. The creatives need to be included (headline, copy, and media), but not ironed out at this time.
Instead, fixate on a single point you want to get across and let the creatives come from that.
Marketing plans are not open-ended; they should involve clearly defined time periods that are reasonable and encourage consistent growth.
The goal is not to shoot for the moon in month one, but to inch towards an invisible finish line little by little.
In order to establish a clear timeline for your personalized marketing plan, assess your current situation first.
Given your current capabilities, what do you think is possible within the next 3 to 6 months? What gaps in the market do you think you can exploit?
Once you have your current situation fixed, use a framework to establish clear marketing objectives. The SMART plan is pretty popular; it stands for tracking goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based.
Once you’ve identified reasonable goals, the most important part of a timeline is…. well, the timeline.
Schedule mini-dates within the larger timeline as to when certain goals should be accomplished. Again, don’t make it too complex, but focus on the most important points.
Another good rule of thumb when it comes to establishing timelines: Always over-estimate the time. If you think (or want) a goal to be met within 2 weeks, write it down as 3.
This way your team won’t be discouraged when they constantly see themselves missing dates, or working themselves into the ground to meet idealistic goal periods.
Some of your timeline will be dictated by the budget that you set for these activities as well.
Consult your balance sheet to see how much money can be reasonably allocated to each part. If your plan includes reaching out to influencers, your budget will decide how many influencers and which kind.
After reviewing your budget, you may have to revise certain dates to match up with reality.
Once you’re finished selling to your audience, how will you sell to them again?
Many companies miss the critical upsell/cross-sell/re-engage component in their marketing plan, but to do so is to miss a huge opportunity.
You’ve already done all the legwork in establishing a relationship with your customers, so why would you not try to re-engage that same, warm audience instead of only going after new customers?
Creating an upsell stage may involve a secondary marketing plan, but at the very least, there should be a section on your one page plan for upsells.
Auxiliary items, complementary products and services, and customer service can all be parts of this plan. You should also include the tactics to nurture these types of relationships, from email automation sequences to online communities.
What Does Your Plan Look Like?
Despite the uniformity of a one page marketing plan, no two will ever be alike. Some will have larger sections on goal-setting and measuring KPI’s, while others will focus on the timeline. Whatever business you’re in, customize the plan to meet your specific needs.
The key here is “intentionality.” Focus on creating a deliberate plan for your successful business, crafted in a way that everyone can follow, and it’ll improve your bottom line somehow.
Leave the wheeling and dealing for the blackjack tables.