If you are looking for a marketing plan format I want to share with you one of the key fundamentals of Guerrilla Marketing (the small business marketing approach that create high impact results from low and no cost marketing weapons) - the Seven Step Guerrilla Marketing Plan.
Why You Need A Marketing Plan
You need a marketing plan to help you to coordinate the most important function of your business - how you attract and satisfy your customers so successfully that they come back for more.
It helps you to gain clarity of what you want and what needs to be done.
There is a saying "proper preparation prevents particularly poor performance" and the proper preparation means putting your plan together, thinking through what you want to want to happen and the actions you need to be taking.
What You Don't Need From A Marketing Plan
You don't want a marketing plan that takes days to produce and is never used.
You don't want a marketing plan that costs you a fortune but never produces any benefits.
You don't want a 200 page marketing plan that takes many hours for anyone to review.
You want a marketing plan that is to the point, quick to write, clear on what needs to be done and is quick to review.
What you need is:
The Seven Step Guerrilla Marketing Plan
I will introduce the idea and then look at each sentence in more detail.
- The purpose of your marketing
- How you will achieve this purpose – your competitive advantage and benefits of your service.
- Your target market.
- The marketing weapons you will use.
- Your niche or position - in effect your USP.
- The identity of your business.
- Your marketing budget
The Flexibility Of The Seven Sentence Guerrilla Marketing Plan
The beauty of the Seven Step Guerrilla Marketing Plan is that the idea works for:
- Your entire business
- Individual products
- Individual product campaigns
You write to the level of detail you need to work with.
The beauty of this approach is that you can build a hierarchy of marketing plans which each level up the hierarchy creating the boundaries or scope of the marketing project and each level further down presenting the clear detailed guidance on how success will be achieved in a particular campaign or using one of the two hundred guerrilla marketing weapons.
This Marketing Planning Approach Used By Procter & Gamble
This is such a powerful technique that it has been adopted by many of the Silicon Valley IT success stories that Jay Conrad Levinson taught at the University of California.
Even more impressively, it is used by marketing giants Procter & Gamble - owners of brands as well established as these listed in Wikipedia.
Example of Applying the Seven Step Guerrilla Marketing Plan To A Firm Of Accountants
I will work through the plan and look at applying the example to the same firm of accountants as I used in Yellow Pages Advertising Mistakes.
I use accountants as an example on the blog a lot, not because I think many accountants read the blog but because it is a service most business owners will buy. I have this idea that the best way to understand marketing is to see it as a buyer rather than a seller.
1 - The Purpose Of Your Marketing
The first sentence of the Seven Sentence Guerrilla Marketing Plan explains:
What specific action do you want prospects to do and why.
In the example the accountant may say "I want people to call for a free 20 minute tax assessment and consultation."
This then becomes the focus of what we are selling in the marketing messages.
The aim is not to rush to convert the prospect into a client but to give them an easy, low risk first step.
It is the same logic as dating and why men ask a girl out for lunch before moving on to dinner and eventually possibly leading to marriage. The first step is not threatening and therefore doesn't create the instant defensive reaction of "No thanks."
I'd also encourage you to put numbers to the intention.
Wanting ten opportunities to do this tax consultation each and every week has very different marketing implications to wanting to have a campaign to turn on during the three quietest months of the year.
2 - How You Will Achieve This Purpose
The second sentence of the plan is:
How will you achieve this purpose? How will you persuade prospective customers to act in the way you want?
This looks at why they should respond - this explains the benefits they will receive from responding to your marketing message.
It is the "if I do what you want, what's in it for me." (Every buyer asks "what's in it for me?")
In the accountant's example, the 20 minute assessment is a generous commitment from the accountant but what small business owner has a spare twenty minutes?
The truth is that they have to make time so you have to give them reasons to act and act now.
The accountant might write:
"In the free tax assessment we will examine the opportunities available for you to benefit from ten proven ideas for reducing the overall tax paid by 95% of all owner-managers and so far, has saved an average of £2,176 tax per year for our new clients"
3 - Your target markets
The third sentence in the Marketing Plan tells you to define your target market.
Exactly what type of prospective clients will you be targeting your marketing towards.
This is important for several reasons:
a) you probably can't afford to target everybody and even if you can, repetition is such a powerful multiplier of marketing results that you are better off sending the same basic message ten times to one tenth of the potential market than only telling everyone about it once.
I explained this in my detail in my common marketing mistake image advertising article by showing how attitudes gradually change to a market message.
Michael Port talks about this in his red velvet rope policy. You decide who you will accept as clients rather than feeling obliged to working with everyone who offers to buy from you.
Back to the example.
The accountants may choose to target small business owners in the licensing trade within a ten mile radius of the centre of Birmingham.
That is specific and it allows them to build up a speciality for pubs, clubs and restaurants.
4 - The Marketing Weapons To Use
The fourth sentence asks you to select your tactics.
Back to the example of the accountants
Initial contact will be made by direct mail ( a series of five consecutive letters or postcards three weeks apart)
One to one telephone consultation for 20 minutes
Follow up through
a) Letter thanking them for the opportunity and outlining the ten tips
b) Second letter two months before the end of the tax year
c) Invitation to the "new employee tax rules teleseminar or presentation" held after the Budget each year.
But the accountant need not stop there to promote these events.
What about printing details of the free tax consultation on the back of the business card which is given out at networking events?
What about talking to existing clients and agreeing an active referral system where the client can give their qualifying clients and friends the "free gift" of a 20 minute tax consultation that will save them on average over £2,000?
Do you start seeing how powerful Guerrilla Marketing can be when you think about it intentionally?
5 - Your Niche and Position
The fifth sentence in the marketing plan asks you to clarify you niche position.
What is your place in the market and how would clients describe you to others. In effect what is your main USP?
So in the example, it would be a central Birmingham based firm of chartered accountants specialising in the licensing trade and other consumer based service businesses.
Such a clear position makes them the obvious choice for any business owner who is working in that industry. We all have a desire to work with specialists rather than generalists because it reassures us that we're getting the best possible advice.
6 - The Identity Of Your Business
The penultimate sentence asks you to clarify the promise your brand makes to prospective customers and keeps with regular customers.
Some marketing talks about creating an image. This is an illusion of what you want your customers to think.
Guerrilla marketing says that idea is nonsense.
Because the aim is to create a long term customer you can't market that way because clients will realise that you're not who you say you are.
In Guerrilla Marketing, image is seen as a false representation of your business.
A lie designed to manipulate and take advantage of customers.
The marketing plan asks you to specify your real identity that you will project? This will be consistent throughout your marketing plans.
So for the accountant, the identity is a professional firm of tax advisors and accounts who provide a fast, responsive service committed to helping clients to minimise their tax bills legally and pro-actively.
That makes it clear that the accountant is not going to resort to any of the shady tricks which may cause big problems with the taxman and indicates that the accountant will have issues with any client who tries illegal tax evasion techniques.
7 - Your Marketing Budget
The final sentence in the Seven Sentence Guerrilla Marketing Plan is concerned with money.
How much are you going to spend to attract clients?
The pot of cash for marketing isn't unlimited so specify how much you will spend on marketing either as:
- A fixed amount
- A percentage of your sales
- A target amount per lead generated
- A target amount per client acquired
Each has its advantages.
The fixed amount marketing budget imposes a budgetary discipline and encourages you to search for the biggest "bang per buck". Knowing that you are only going to spend £10,000 on marketing, encourages you to weight up your options and decide whether that £800 for the Yellow Pages advertisement should be better spent on four series of letters to the 200 top prospects.
The percentage of target sales budget allows your marketing expenditure to continue to grow as the business grows which means that you can have a bigger, more extensive website, more expensive looking brochures, organise an event to thank customers and so many other ways to attract new customers and strengthen the relationship with existing customers. This is the version of the budget that I have heard Jay Levinson recommend although I am not so sure.
The target amount per lead generated is easy to calculate and forms a bridge between your marketing process inputs (whatever the activities are) and your results.
The target amount per new client is the next logical extension which also includes your ability to convert leads into clients and encourages you to focus your attention both on reducing cost per lead and increasing conversion rates.
The average cost of acquiring a client emphasises the importance of finding ways to increase your customer lifetime value.
So to return to my example for the accountant, the budget can be set at £10,000 with a target client acquisition cost of £150 including allowance for the 20 minute consultation. Alternatively the accountant could set a target result of £100,000 from the campaign and set the budget at 10%.
Conclusion - The Seven Step Guerrilla Marketing Plan
As you can see, the seven step guerrilla marketing plan is a thorough reflection of what you want to achieve with your marketing and how you are going to do it.
The beauty of it is that as you become more familiar with the technique, it is very quick to write because it doesn't include any of the superfluous information you could include and it is quick to review because it is so short and will fit on one page.
Even better, it works because it is so focused on what you want, why customers will take action and how it all happens.
It forces you to think about what you want and how you will get it.
Learning More About Guerrilla Marketing
If you believe that you would benefit from one to one coaching and you are in the UK, then please contact me. I am a certified Guerrilla Marketing Coach.