P4M3 Your Marketing Plans

As a Certified Guerrilla Marketing Coach, I am very proud of the pioneering work done by Jay Conrad Levinson, founder of Guerrilla marketing for his pioneering work in creating short but powerful marketing plans.

In module 2 on Why Marketing is So Frustrating you were introduced to the mindset issues in the Guerrilla Marketing competences.

One of the most important in my view is to be INTENTIONAL in your marketing.

  • To decide what you want to achieve
  • To decide how you will achieve it
  • Then doing it, learning on the way and improving for next time.

Why Plan Your Marketing?

  • Moves you from reactive to proactive
  • Helps you to focus on
    • what you want to achieve and
    • how you can make it happen
  • Coordinates your actions into a successful attack on your marketplace
  • Proper planning prevents particularly poor performance

There’s a big danger with marketing that it’s seen as something to get done and then it’s out of the way but it’s much too important for that.

A lot of  marketing I see doesn’t look as if it’s had the right level of thought given to it.

Tell me if this sounds familiar.

You notice sales or order intake are down a bit and think to yourself “I need to do some more marketing. I’d better get a new direct mail letter [or whatever your preferred technique is] sent out by the end of next week or we’re going to be really short of work.” Something is then cobbled together quickly, sent out to prospective customers and the results are disappointing.

This is treating marketing and lead generation in a reactive way which is triggered because business looks to be taking a dip.

A much better way is to treat marketing pro-actively, both to keep leads coming in at a nice steady rate and also with a clear intention behind every campaign and between campaigns so all your marketing pulls together consistently.

To be blunt you need to be writing some marketing plans to help you to decide:

  • What you want to achieve
  • How you will do it

These then provide the control to make sure you follow through and carry out the intended actions and learn from the experience you gain, so next time, you have a ready made blueprint for improved results.

The main purpose of the marketing plan is to coordinate the things you are doing so everything makes sense and there is consistency and no missing key ingredients.

One of my favourite sayings is:

“Proper planning prevents particularly poor performance”

It applies to everything you do and particularly in marketing when you are aiming to persuade people you’ve no control over to do what you want because it’s in their best interests.

Overwhelmed With Marketing Messages

  • 3,000 marketing messages per day
  • Polarise
  • You can’t attract everyone
  • Nobody buys OK
  • Be something for somebody and not nothing for nobody – positioning
  • Be a magnet – attract or repel – auto-qualify
  • Concentrate on those who might buy and not those who are not interested

The basic problem for marketers is that we are all overwhelmed with marketing messages. Some estimate we can see up to 3,000 each day so it’s no surprise that our brains have become very good at tuning out the vast majority. They are not seen and they’re certainly not remembered.

Bland and boring doesn’t cut it.

“Me too” attracts no attention.

You need to polarise opinion – either you are right for the prospective customer or you’re not.

You can’t attract everyone and it is a mistake to try. the more you stand in the middle trying to have a foot in two (or more different) groups of customers, the more compromises you will have to make, weakening your offer to both.

Nobody buys OK. It’s not enough to get passions high enough to bring out the wallet or credit card.

You need to be communicating your clear positioning from pillar 3 in your marketing so you come across as selling something special for a specific group of somebodies rather than a vague appeal which offers nothing for nobody.

This way you become a marketing magnet, attracting the types of customer you want and repelling those who don’t fit in with your market. A lead from a prospective customer you can’t convert (and won’t produce cash from possible referrals) is an illusion of success. It’s much better to get a quick No than to waste valuable time chasing business where the prospect has no intention of committing and is jut politely playing the game.

Your time, energy and money is better focused on those who can convert.

Guerrilla Marketing Attack

  • Research – market, customers, competitors
  • Benefits list – generic plus your advantages
  • Marketing weapons – media
  • Marketing plan(s)
  • Marketing calendar
  • Fusion marketing partners
  • Launch attack – stay comfortable
  • Maintain attack
  • Measure & improve

If you are going to win in marketing because of all the difficulties and frustrations, you need to play to win from the start.

Just as in war, you can’t afford to be tentative and wimpy but neither can you take crazy risks while your business is small and short of cash resources. Your aim is to be proactive and intentional.

That’s why I like Guerrilla Marketing so much and why we are going to look in detail at how to carry out a Guerrilla Marketing Attack.

Step 1 -Research

As we covered in Pillar 3 when we talked about Sun Tsu, if you want to win every battle you need to know yourself, the enemy (competitors) and the battlefield (customers).

Jay Conrad Levinson emphasises that when marketing guerrillas launch their attack, they should never take anything for granted. “You spend a relatively brief time developing the attack and inaugurating it, but you have to spend the life of your business maintaining, monitoring, and improving your attack,” he said. “Never forget that other very smart and motivated competitors are studying you and doing their utmost to surpass you in the marketing arena.”

The Internet has made research much easier than it used to be so there is even less excuse to be ill-informed and to make the wrong decisions because you had the wrong information.

Step 2 – Write a benefits list

Understand and really clarify why customers buy your product and service.

What do they get from buying and using it.

Which of the benefits apply to you and your competitors and which are your sources of differentiation and competitive advantage.

Step 3 –  Select your marketing weapons

We are covering the main marketing techniques in outreach marketing and search marketing in later modules but you need to start selecting specific techniques for your business.

Whichever marketing media you choose for linking your message to your target market, it imposes certain requirements and constraints on your marketing approach which need to be built into your thinking from the beginning.

The right media is the one that balances reaching your target customers with most impact and with the least cost.

Step 4 – Your Marketing Plan

Your marketing plan pulls everything together for your product, market and campaign.

It’s your chance to get your thinking straight about what you want to achieve and how you will do it.

Step 5 – Your marketing calendar

Once your clear on your product / market strategy and campaigns, your marketing calendar guides you through the next 12 months so your marketing becomes a continuous process.

Step 6 – Find marketing partners to work with

Whatever you can do on your own, you can do even better working with a other businesses who already have trusted relationships with your target market.

It takes times to win trust or even to get attention. Joint venture partners (in one form or another) are your shortcut.

Step 7 – Launch the attack

Just do it nice and gently.

No big risks because you want to test small and see if your marketing plan works, tweaking it where necessary.

Any new marketing – no matter how well researched and prepared – is a risk. Multi-billion dollar giants don’t get everything right and nor will you so work at a level which you find comfortable emotionally and financially.

Step 8 – Maintain your attack

Keep going if results are positive.

Remember to be persistent and consistent.

You are likely to get bored with your marketing before your target customers who will give you very little attention until they need what you sell. Your marketing calendar will help guide you to continue with your marketing.

Step 9 – Keep track

The more direct response marketing you use and the more you measure the results, the more confidence you have in what works.

Step 10 – Improve Everything

Those campaigns that work well stay in your marketing calendar for next year.

The campaigns that disappointed are reviewed and revised. Keep testing and trying to beat your best

7 Step Marketing Plan

  • Very flexible
  • Business
  • Product
  • Campaign
  • Create cascade of plans which fit together
  • Quick and extremely focused
  • Leads to action

I love the basic idea of a short, concise marketing plan and when I first came across the 7 Step Guerrilla Marketing plan it was like a breath of fresh air. No wonder even giant companies like Proctor & Gamble use the same approach.

This simple technique is very flexible and you can use it to help clarify your thinking at the level of your entire business (e.g. we are a commercial and domestic cleaning business), at the product market level (commercial cleaning for restaurants, bars and pubs) or campaign (direct mail letter to independently owned restaurants within 20 miles).

Using it this way, you’re able to create a series of inter-linked plans which fit together giving you consistency in your marketing and customers confidence without having to produce a long and complicated plan months before you do anything.

It’s quick to do and lets you get extremely focused and leads naturally into action.

We’ll now look at two versions – the first is pure Guerrilla Marketing as presented by Jay Conrad Levinson and the second is my version developed while working with clients to encourage them to become even more specific about what their intentions.

Guerrilla Marketing Seven Step Marketing Plan

  • What you want your prospects to do
  • Why they should do it
  • Your target audience
  • Your positioning or niche
  • Your marketing weapons
  • Your identity
  • Your budget

In its simplest form the Guerrilla Marketing plan is just seven sentences long and should be done in ten minutes or less

Here is Jay Levinson explaining the plan.

To recap in writing, the 7 sentence Guerrilla Marketing plan is:

  1. The purpose of your marketing – what you want your prospects to do
  2. The competitive advantage – i.e. why your prospective customers should do what you want
  3. Your target audience – the market you want to hear your message
  4. Your positioning or niche – what you stand for
  5. Your marketing weapons
  6. Your identity – your company personality – who you really are
  7. Your marketing budget as a percentage of your projected gross sales

Working one-to-one with clients implementing Guerrilla Marketing when they were unfamiliar with the marketing plan, the thinking tended to be too superficial and didn’t dig into the intentionality and focused logic behind an effective plan.

Sometimes it is more difficult to be precise and short (as implied by the seven sentences) than to stretch out a little so think in terms of a marketing plan that’s one of two pages long rather than 1/2 a page.

My version of the 7 Step Marketing Plan

  • Your target market & their problem
  • Your ROI – what you want to achieve and what time and money you’ll spend
  • Your call to action & deadline – what you want customers to do and by when
  • Your reasons why your customers should do what you ask
  • Your positioning – USP & Offer
  • Your marketing tactics
    • Outreach or search
    • Contact, tempter, conversion, follow up
  • Your identity

You’ll see that this is very strongly influenced by Jay Levinson’s ideas but I think it puts things in a better order to help you work through your marketing challenges.Of course it isn’t used by the computer giants mentioned in the video so I understand if you prefer to use the original.

I hope you’ve started to look at the marketing targeted to you in more detail so you can see good things and the ineffective. Before you dump the junk mail in the bin, ask yourself why and what you can learn. It’s good preparation for creating a winning marketing plan.

Step 1 – Your target and their problem

Get clear on who your target market is and the particular problem you are aiming to solve.

The more precise you are, the more you are likely to hit the bullseye with a strong message to market match.

Imagine you sell a “make money on the Internet” training program.

Bland target market – anyone who wants to make money on the Internet

Specific target market – baby boomers looking for a part time income to supplement their pensions or keep their mind active but who are nervous of the technology challenges .

The second gives you much better context to write a compelling marketing message.

Step 2 – Your return on investment

Set some targets for what you want the marketing to achieve in terms of response rates, conversions and revenue/profit.

What’s your budget in terms of time and money? Can you achieve it.

Unlike Jay Levinson I don’t like budget expressed as a percentage of your expected revenue or past revenue. I much prefer looking at marketing as buying the life time value of customers.

If customers have an average first time value of £15 and a lifetime value of £50 then to me it makes sense depending on cash flow to keep marketing if your average customer conversion is say £10. Depending on your cash flow situation, you can even spend more attracting customers than the average first transaction profit provided you have sufficient confidence in your lifetime value.

Sometimes when you are cash-strapped, it can necessary to focus on setting an absolute limit on a campaign and especially if you are thinking about planning several campaigns and choosing the best.

Do take into consideration time – that’s the time you need to carry out the campaign and the time that lapses between when you start and see results. One of the things I love about direct mail and pay per click is the speed which you can make things happen.

Step 3 -Your call to action & deadline

Get clear on what it is that you want customers to do and for campaign level planning, remember to set deadlines to create urgency.

The big weakness with brand advertising which jump pumps out the name is that it doesn’t create any kind of reaction or response. Unfortunately direst response marketing will also fail if you don;t make it crystal clear what you want your prospective customer to do right now.

Don’t confuse… be specific – “Go to my website at www…. and sign up to receive “The 7 Critical Factors Which Determine ….”

The more choices you give for response, the more opportunity you give your target to decide what to do later even though it can seem to be user-friendly to give multiple response methods.

Step 4 – Your reasons why your customers should do what you ask

Your marketing message needs to be designed to persuade customers to take the action you want so you need to persuade them to do it by providing compelling reasons to do it.

This is the answer to the automatic “What’s in it for me” that goes through people’s brain when they are asked to spend time, energy or money doing something. It may sound selfish but listen out for the little voice in your head asking “Why?”

In the great book “Influence”, Robert Cialdini told the story of the queue for the photocopier and how using one magic word had a big boost in getting people to agree to someone cutting in without waiting.

That one magic word is…


Tests showed that it didn’t matter why but people look for a reason why to justify actions.

Make sure your marketing plan clarifies these “becauses” and in particular that they are focused on the self interest of the person you want to take action.

This is where understanding the benefits offered is so important. These may be of the generic benefits available from you and most of your competitors and your own unique competitive advantage.

Step 5 – Your positioning – USP & Offer

You explain why you are the solution they want based on either your unique selling proposition or a particularly strong offer with an irresistible value for money.

Step 6 – Your marketing tactics

I like to look at marketing tactics across the first contact, the tempter, conversion and follow up.

Be clear on how you will have contact with your target customers depending on whether you are using outreach marketing (you take the initiative) or search marketing (your customers find you when they look). Get specific about how you will do it.

The tempter is to make sure you give enough reasons for action if you haven’t covered it in your reasons why customers should respond or your offer.

Conversion are the tactics you’ll use to convert leads into customers. I include this in the plan because you don’t want to find yourself  thinking “What do I do with all these leads?” as one well known business guru did when he was swamped after a JV promotion.

The final set of weapons to think about is how you are going to follow up:

  • Target customers who don’t respond
  • Prospective customers who do respond but don’t convert immediately

Step 7 – Your identity

This is who you really are and what you stand for.

One well known small business expert claims to be a leading authority in all kinds of different things. This chameleon like appearance suggests he will say what he thinks you need to hear to spend some money.

It’s much better to have your identify fixed as a concrete pillar in the ground so you come over as genuine and with integrity when people search online.

Overlapping Concepts in the Market Plan

Working with clients implementing this type of short, powerful marketing plan, I know that these concepts can seem to overlap.

Like a jigsaw puzzle they should fit together neatly and not duplicate each other.

Too much overlap

Imagine you work as an emergency plumber and you have your first attempt at producing the Guerrilla Marketing Plan.

Audience People who need an emergency plumber in Birmingham
Niche Emergency plumbing
Benefits Fixing emergency plumbing problems
Identity An emergency plumber

There is too much overlap and instead of bringing clarity to your marketing, it narrows your thinking.

At the other extreme with too much distance between ideas would be

Audience People who need emergency plumbers in Birmingham
Niche Plumbing for very rich people in big houses
Benefits Polite and courteous
Identity Seven foot tall

The plumber may be seven foot tall but that isn’t relevant to the decision and the customer needs confidence that the plumbing problem will be fixed. Polite but useless is not enough.

About right

Audience People who need emergency plumbers in selective areas of Birmingham – Edgbaston/Harborne, Sutton Coldfield, Solihull
Niche A premium plumbing service for people who expect and can pay for the best.
Benefits Fast efficient service – we will be there within 90 minutes of an accepted call or we either fix the problem for free or if not with you in two hours we will pay another approved plumber to do the job for us.

We will explain the problem to you simply, outline your options and make a recommendation with a fixed price quote. You pay when the problem is fixed to your satisfaction.

Identity All our plumbers are qualified master plumbers, checked against the criminal database and trained to communicate clearly.

This plan focuses on reassurance that once you’ve made the call, you will receive a fast service, you will understand what needs to be done, you won’t be ripped off if the job takes longer than expected, the plumbers know what they are doing and you are not inviting known criminals into your home.

It presents the customer with an option – choose this business and be guaranteed a quick solution or choose another plumber where you don’t what you are getting or when but it may be cheaper.

Plumbing is usually a business where search marketing is necessary. People are not interested in emergency plumbing until they need it. Business comes from repeats from satisfied customers, Yellow Page adverts and personal recommendations

Marketing Calendar

  • Schedule of marketing actions for your campaigns throughout the year.
  • Plan out your marketing so you know what is happening – and what you should be doing
  • See into the future – time, money, actions
  • Link to holidays & major events
  • Track progress and record results

A marketing calendar is the critical link between your marketing plan and taking action.

Your marketing calendar lets you schedule out your marketing campaigns throughout the year across each activity and to monitor your results.

It will include activities you do every month and those you will do at particular times of the year to link into major events and holidays and  your need to have special promotions during quiet times.

It lets you budget your marketing spend and your time and does not need to be complicated.

Here is an example for a hotel organising its marketing for the quiet January and February period. The Google Adwords pay per click campaign and blogging are repeat activities each month while there are also one-off events.

Marketing Calendar
Month Action Cost in £ Time (hours) Results
Jan Direct mail to past guests 3 for 2 offer 500 10
Jan 2 blog posts each week to increase keyword coverage 0 8
Jan Google Adwords – top 10 keywords 150 2
Jan Webinar – what to do in winter 0 4
Total January 650 24
Feb 2 blog posts each week to increase keyword coverage 0 8
Feb Google Adwords – top 10 keywords 150 2
Feb Postcard campaign for Murder Mystery 400 6
Feb Launch of the Easter break campaign – postcards to website offer 1000 10
Total February 1550 26

Planning & Control

  • Know where you are going
  • Know where you are & how you are doing
  • Know how to get there
  • Opposite to most people who “dabble”
  • The more intentional you are, the more you know what you have done
  • Can repeat if the marketing works well
  • Can change if the marketing disappoints

Let’s finish with a quick recap of why planning and control is so important in marketing when initially it may seem at ods with teh creative marketing process.

Most people dabble with marketing and quickly put together a badly considered campaign which doesn’t get the results they hoped for because of gaps missing in the logical chain of actions needed to move a prospective customer to take action.

When you start planning your marketing, you start with deciding what you want to achieve and work backwards to how you can achieve it.

If you want five new customers next month, that might mean you need 2o to 25 enquiries (at a conversion rate of 20 to 25%). knowing that you need 25 enquiries means that those 100 direct mail letters to a cold mailing list won’t be enough. Even the greatest copywriter won’t get a 25% response rate unless the list has no dud names and there is a truly oustanding offer which really is irresistible.

Planning forces you to challenge yourself at every step:

  • How many people need to be on your mailing list to get 25 responses (which should lead to 5 new customers)?
  • Can you get two or three sequential promotions out in the month and if so, what are they?
  • What is your offer which will be irresistible?
  • How will you follow up with the 25 prospects who raise their hands to say they have some interest?
  • What can you do to convince them with overwhelming proof that you can deliver on your promises?
  • What marketing triggers can you use to create action

The simple truth is that the more intentional you are, the more you know what has to be done to get the results you want.

Then when you’ve put together a compelling marketing campaign which you truly believe will work, you can launch with confidence and measure the results. There’s no guarantee of success. There never is when your aim is to persuade others to take action but by keeping track of what works and what doesn’t, you gain a better understanding of the hot buttons in your market.

You repeat what works, reflect on and change what doesn’t.

It starts with your 7 step marketing plan and deciding what it is you want to achieve.

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