When you don’t want to act, plan.
If someone paid me my hourly rate equivalent (HRE) for all the time I’ve spent researching, pondering, debating and writing marketing plans that a) sat on a shelf, b) were outdated the minute they were published or c) never got finished, I’d be back in the 1990s.
But I’m smarter now. I know a waste of time when I see one.
When we first started Clicks ‘n Conversions, we did some marketing plans; but they were shorter than the hundred+ page tomes of yesteryear. And as the plans got shorter, they began to be more useful.
I agree planning isn’t totally without value. I wasn’t the first one to think of this, but the real benefit of planning is the discussions it inspires.
When you create a marketing plan, you force yourself to look at key elements of your business: what you’re going to sell, who is going to buy, how you’re going to get them to buy it, what and how you’re going to charge for it and how you’re going to get it to them.
This is good.
But it’s easy to let the plan and its planning stand between you and taking action. You know you’re caught in this trap when you say or think things like:
• That sounds like a good idea. Let’s look at it again when the plan is finished.
• We need to schedule an off-site meeting to kick off the marketing plan.
• No one here knows how to do a marketing plan. We’d better bring in a pro.
• It’s September; time to get started on next year’s plan.
The world’s shortest marketing plan
Part of the blame for excessively long plans, I think, goes to the many books and templates for generating marketing plans. Often, the templates themselves run upwards of 30 pages. I like to think this is because they are generic and must address every conceivable option known to man and not because the authors really believe a marketing plan needs to include all that stuff.
As Kelly Odell pointed out in a blog article some years ago, marketing templates may have their greatest value in showing you what you don’t need to worry about.
Kelly also first introduced the template for the World’s Shortest Marketing Plan, which was later revised by Guy Kawasaki in the World’s Shortest Marketing Plan version 2.0. Click here to get the template.
Take smaller steps
Nowadays its better to plan a little, test a little, adjust a little, review.
Elaborate marketing plans delay action and never really get used. Avoid that trap and you’ll get to the good part much faster.
Next article I’ll write about all you really need to figure out to have an awesome marketing program.
Meanwhile, what do you think about marketing plans?