Seriously though, what is the value of this marketing plan?

This question was asked by a client not long ago, after slaving away for a number of solid hours on their first marketing plan. Obviously, my inner marketer’s natural reaction was writhing in agony with a poisonous dagger in my heart… the cheek of it!!!

However, once I stopped cursing and calmed down, I started soul-searching. What’s missing? Where am I falling short? Questions were pouring out of me because I needed to know where I was failing to deliver on client expectations. Lo and behold… It turns out the client was hoping to walk away on the spot with some email templates and social media content. On further probing the confession came, they didn’t really know what to expect.

Obviously, this highlighted two points straight up:

  1. I sucked at managing their expectations prior to delivery. Ouch.
  2. When there’s a weakness there’s also an opportunity. In this case, to educate.

So, welcome to my blog, the first of many, about marketing plans and strategic development.

Now this is going to be a long one, please bear with me. However, I promise you’re going to walk away enlightened with a new appreciation towards the mystical world of marketing. (No, actually, it’s not mystical at all. You just need to cut through the bullsh*t).

Let’s start with an analogy. You want a house. Not too fancy but one that provides you and your family with safety and comfort, that is also pleasing on the eye and welcomes visitors into your home. Now you have several options:

The Amateur (AKA No idea but let’s hope for the best)

You can design your own home. You may be a plumber, you may be a dentist. Which means that you know very little about how to plan and build a house, you may manage some parts but overall your expertise lies elsewhere. Unless you learn with dedication and invest time and effort, your house is going to be sh*t. Sorry.

The Renovator (AKA This will do)

You already have a shack and some parts you’re happy with. The rest you want to update. Again, you can do this yourself, which will save on costs but it will take you much longer, with various results. You can engage a reputable builder who will take care of every detail with careful planning to make sure your updates are consistent with the rest of your shack, and quite possibly advise you that you must deal with the rest of the building before it goes tits up. 

Though more often than not, you will engage The Three Little Pigs PTY LTD, who will be happy to do the bare minimum because you asked for it. Planning? What planning? Zero care for consistency and safety but the rest is covered in glitter, so who cares.

The Know It All (AKA The pain in the proverbial backside)

My favourite. 20 years ago you helped Uncle Jono drag some rocks around for a retaining wall, now you know how to build a house from scratch, that is also the biggest and bestest house of the neighbourhood. Planning is for beginners. You have an opinion on everything, and you sure know how to do it better yourself even though the results say otherwise (Uncle Jono’s retaining wall lasted two summers). Nuff said. 

The Planner (AKA The ideal client, also known as the elusive unicorn)

You know that safety, comfort and consistency are basic requirements. You also want a sensible amount of frills but only the ones that excite your visitors enough that they want to feel homely, so they will come back. You know that you will need a blueprint from an architect before even starting to build because planning is everything. You want to make sure your house will stand the test of time because it was planned with care and consideration of the climate, neighbourhood, natural lights, and so on.

By now, you can see where I’m going with all of this, but just in case. Please go back and read this post again, this time substitute the house with your business, the visitors with your customers, the builder with the marketer (or lack of), and the process with marketing. Gotcha.

The marketing plan is your blueprint. It will determine what currently works for your business based on the thorough analysis of your company, your competitors, your audience and the industry itself. It will also tell you what doesn’t work and it will provide you with a framework on what to do next. The value lies in the preparation and understanding of your business. Does the plan come with templates, instant social media content, and an email chain for your cold leads? No. Does a blueprint come with a house? Of course not. 

What the marketing plan is supposed to do is to tell you where to start and offer you areas for improvement. Then you can have those developed into real-life tactics. We can do that together or you can action them on your own. What you must understand, there is no magic pill and instant result. Whoever tells you otherwise is a member of the Advisory Board for the Three Little Pigs PTY LTD.

I haven’t even mentioned how brand strategy, or a solid comms strategy fit into all of this. I’ll deliver on those next week. Until then, you better start planning or give me a call. Any questions? Throw them below and I’ll get back to you.

(TL;DR: we’ll tell you what works and what doesn’t, then after that we throw different tactics at your audience. When one sticks, we rejoice. Why do you pay us? Because of our knowledge and experience we have a way better rate (planning and ideas) of making things stick. At any stage we will look at the bigger picture, more than you would. Simple).

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