‘The Spark’ is when business leaders stand right on the cusp of opportunity, but need a little extra oomph to move from inspiration to transformation. Keep an eye on the Kinesis blog for this new series.
Hate marketing plans? I don’t blame you.
November is upon us – and ‘tis the season for football, shorter days, and early holiday commercials. And (I hate to be the one to break this to you, but…) 2017 is right around the corner. Which means it’s time to roll up your sleeves, stretch those strategic muscles, and develop your 2017 marketing plan.
I came from the corporate world, and so the very words “marketing plan” make my shoulders tense up. In my former life, marketing plan season meant weeks of backbreaking work. I would conduct research, run reports, talk to our top accounts, and compile an entire year’s worth of strategy into a massive three-ringed notebook – which would then be presented to corporate executives at their headquarters in Florida for their buy-in and approval.
Then what happened, after we hoisted those binders back into our suitcases and left the sticky heat of the south behind? Go on, ask me.
Nothing. Nothing happened. Said marketing plan binders would be proudly propped on the top shelf of an office bookcase somewhere (they were a lot of work, after all…), but otherwise would never be reopened or referenced again. In fact, not once in my six years of this do I ever remember consulting a marketing plan for anything.
Something is wrong with that picture, wouldn’t you agree?
But it’s not uncommon.
If you’re a small business, you might not share these same painful memories… or at least I hope you don’t. But regardless of your company’s size, marketing planning is a lot of work.
And if all that work doesn’t have any bearing on your day-to-day decision making, well then, what’s the point?
The ugly truth: marketing plans suck
The fact is, traditional marketing plans don’t work.
And not just for me and my big corporate upbringing, but for frankly almost all organizations who develop them. Why? Because there is no such thing as a successful strategy that gathers dust. Never in the history of all mankind has somebody uttered the words, “Wow, that three-ringed binder really shaped our business this year.” It just doesn’t happen.
Small businesses need to be nimble and flexible, able to pivot on a dime. And marketing plans (or at least the ones you and I are familiar with) are complex, cumbersome, and impossible to utilize in any efficient or sustainable way. They lack dynamism and they aren’t continuously updated.
To marketing plan, or not to marketing plan?
On the other hand, we can’t ignore the facts: According to EMyth’s State of the Business Owner Report, companies with a written marketing plan grew 60% faster than those without – and yet, less than half of small business owners report actually having a written marketing plan for their company.
As business leaders, we need to be able to articulate and codify where the company is headed – and then outline the specific strategies we’ll use to get there.
While I might want to take those old corporate marketing plans and turn them into bonfire kindling, the fact remains that they were created with this practical truth in mind: Planning is, after all, a good thing.
A better way to write your marketing plan
So, if planning is a good thing, but archaic methods of doing so are ineffective… how can we reap all the hefty benefits of a marketing plan without the accompanying headache?
I now work for a marketing firm that – I am thrilled to report – hates marketing plans as much as I do.
Kinesis has carefully considered the pitfalls of the dreaded dust-attracting, three-ringed binder – and has found a way to combat it.
Enter the Marketing Blueprint™.
The Marketing Blueprint™ is a dynamic, visual marketing plan that trims the fat off its traditional ancestor. On a single page, the Marketing Blueprint™ is whittled down to the core elements every company needs to move forward:
- Brand Foundations: Your mission, core values, and big vision – the essence of your company identity, and the true north by which you base every business decision.
- Remarkable Selling Point (RSP): Your unique value proposition, which sets you apart in your marketplace.
- WHO: Your target audience, defined in persona-level detail.
- Centers of Influence: Physical or digital spaces where your WHO congregates, giving you the opportunity to turn a lot of heads at once.
- Referrers: Brand ambassadors who can act as walking billboards for your business, and a strategy to help them do it.
- Marketing initiatives and goals: An exhaustive and well-researched list of key marketing channels where your target customer is most likely to engage with your brand.
- Execution and accountability: Here’s where the rubber meets the road – an implementation timeline that lays out what needs to happen when and by whom, to ensure initiatives are completed on time and on budget.
- Theme: A rallying cry for the year, to keep your team engaged and excited for this work.
The Kinesis Marketing Blueprint™ is a dynamic accountability tool that is designed to be checked off, scribbled on, and continuously revised. Our clients hang it in the bull pen or war room of their offices – a constant reminder of progress made and what’s left to come.
It never has dust on it.
When I learned about this new approach to marketing plans, I breathed a sigh of relief (and probably rolled my shoulders a few times). Because marketing plans are only as effective as the decisions they influence, and only as valuable as the deliberate growth they bring to a company.
Don’t get me wrong – there is still a lot of homework behind this single-page tool. We’re able to simplify and streamline because we’ve already checked the hard boxes: messaging, brand positioning, review of the competitive landscape, SWOT analysis, market trends, etc. But, once I help get my clients set on the fundamentals, I can turn my focus to actionable plans – plans which inspire momentum, track regular progress, and (here’s the best part) bring the business closer to their Big Vision.
So this year, scrap the heavy binder and the cumbersome plans. Create something succinct and actionable (a blueprint, if you will), and watch your team become motivated and mobilized.
Need help developing a Marketing Blueprint for your company? Fill out the form below to schedule your free, 30-minute marketing assessment for 2017.