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3 Steps To Create a Winning Marketing Plan

In my last article, 7 Steps To Systematically Test New Marketing Channels, we covered the Bullseye Framework for testing different traction channels. Now that you’ve tested some channels and (hopefully!) gotten a sense of which ones work, you’re ready to create your 1-page marketing plan.

It’s going to be amazing! Buckle your seatbelts.

Aha! Note: In the last article, I talked about focus (on one traction channel) being valuable for early stage startups. Once your company reaches a certain size and has more resources, it’s possible to leverage multiple media/channels to reach your target audience. Even though one traction channel will always dominate, if you have the budget/resources, you should be able to diversify across multiple channels.

Create Your 1-Page Marketing Plan

I’m a visual person (maybe you, too?), so I’m going to share the visual of the plan first before I jump into the sections.

Take a look below ... let it soak in.

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(BONUS! I included a link to TWO filled out plans at the end of the post, one is B2C and the other is B2B focused.)

This is the template created by Allan Dib in his book, The 1-Page Marketing Plan. The quotes featured here are directly from the book.

I have not found a more succinct, helpful resource out there. You don’t need a 25-page plan to create your road map and drive strong results. You simply need to understand the key sections and how they fit together.

Allan Dib writes,

“The marketing process is a journey we want to guide our ideal target market through. We want to guide them from not knowing we exist right through to being a raving fan customer.”

It’s not a straight journey, and that’s okay. As long as you have the key ingredients and understanding, you can create a winning marketing plan.

1. Before Phase

During the Before phase, the goal is to get prospects to know you and have them show interest in what you’re offering. There are four sections in the Before phase (and for every phase).

a. My Target Market

Someone recently asked me if, with their new patented product, they should target a specific group of women experiencing a specific problem OR should they go after the mass market? I told them to read this article (kidding!).

Your target market should never be everyone (this means NO ONE). Mass marketing, especially when you’re an early stage company, is NEVER a good idea. You might think, “Look at Netflix. Everyone uses them,” or “Wal-Mart ... everyone goes there.” It’s a mind trick you’re playing on yourself. Even these companies started out with a niche (target) audience and, once they were successful with that segment, they were able to expand out and capture more segments.

I would argue that for a company to continue to be successful, they still need a focused, targeted message and approach (or risk watering it down so that it’s ineffective).

From Allan Dib,

“The type of niches that you want to go after are an inch wide and a mile deep,” meaning you’re highly targeting in a category, AND there are a lot of people looking to solve a specific problem.

Then it’s time to do some intentional consumer research and create an “avatar” or “persona.” More on voice of the customer research and creating buyer personas in a separate post (there’s just too much juicy goodness to include it all here).

b) My Message to My Target Market

Once you understand your target buyer’s perspectives, it’s time to work on your messaging. You CAN’T be boring, no matter what industry you’re in. Otherwise, you’ll blend in and be ignored (or purchased based on lowest price).

Some notable points from the book:

  • Your advertising should have ONE objective.
  • It should focus on the needs and desires of your target.
  • Targeting existing pain (vs. promising future pleasure) will bring you higher conversions.
  • Your company should have a USP (unique selling proposition) or value prop.

Starbucks’ value prop is being your “third place” (after home and work) or “affordable, luxurious experience.” Dunkin’s value prop is “innovative, fresh coffee/food fast.” Know your value prop.

  • Prospects rarely want the thing you’re selling; it’s usually the result of the thing you’re selling.
  • Answer the question of why they should buy, then answer why they should buy from you.
  • Purchasing is done with emotions and justified with logic afterwards.
  • With messaging, “People are craving something new, something entertaining, something different.”

I couldn’t agree more.

c) The Advertising Media (Marketing Channels) I Will Use to Reach My Target Market

This is where you’ll need a marketing budget to propel your message out to your target audience. This is also where you’ll need to track how much you’re spending to make sure you’re getting a positive ROI.

Guess what. We already covered testing traction channels in the last article (7 Steps To Systematically Test New Marketing Channels), so here’s where you’ll plug in the successful channels.

Great point from the book:

“... have an unlimited budget for marketing that works.”

I love this, not because I’m a marketer and an unlimited budget sounds amazing, but because it makes logical SENSE. It’s one thing if you’re testing (fail cheap!) but another thing if you’ve found what works.

d) SMART Objective(s)

Aha! Note: this section is actually something I added to each Phase, because every marketing strategy/plan needs to have end goals that you’re working towards. Otherwise, how do you know if you’re successful? A Before Phase objective could be: "Increase website visitors by 10% each month."

2. During Phase

The goal of the During phase is to get leads to like you and buy from you for the first time.

a) Capturing Leads

Your lead capture system is essentially your CRM (Hubspot, Salesforce, Zoho, Google Sheets...that last one is not sustainable, though!).

At any given time, only 3%* of your target market is ready to buy.

The rest, not so much. That’s why it’s important to put them in your database and build the infrastructure to capture, nurture, and eventually convert them.

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Aha! Note: *The 3% Rule is covered in Jeremy Miller’s book Sticky Branding. The original research started with his work in the recruiting industry mapping engagement rates of job seekers. He then extended it to buying trends and has found it a valid model for 15+ years.

b) Nurturing Leads

You don’t have to send a personalized card in the mail every month in order to nurture your leads (but you can, like Joe!).

Other ways to nurture your relationship (some of these also work really well with your significant other):

  • Newsletter (share yours or someone else’s that may be relevant for this lead)
  • Tutorial videos
  • Blog articles
  • News articles
  • Reports or white papers
  • Case Studies
  • Book recommendations
  • Hand-written cards
  • Small gift during the holidays
  • Shock and awe package
  • The list goes on and on…

Aha! Note: some of these nurturing tactics can be pricey. Make sure your CAC is lower than your CLV.

How do you organize your nurturing activities? As I always say to my husband, “If it’s not on the calendar, it’s not happening,” (he then frowns). Your marketing calendar can include sending a weekly email with a link to your new blog post, sending a quarterly postcard, and sending a yearly gift basket. These are scheduled activities.

You will want to think about event-triggered marketing activities, too. For example, someone subscribed to updates from your website, so add them to your CRM system and (automate) an educational video series over the next month. Someone called in to ask about your services, so add them to your CRM (unless they’re already in there, then just add some notes) and send them a handwritten card and small gift.

c) Sales Conversion

Congrats! Converting someone to a buying customer is HUGE. I only have a few key points:

  1. Everyone is in sales. EVERY person in your company has the ability to influence a sale. That’s why it’s so fundamentally important to create a positive and connected culture, where employees talk highly of the products/services, understand what pain points they’re solving, and look for cues that a prospect is interested in buying.
  2. Prospects are fearful and skeptical. From Allan Dib, “When you can name the fears and guarantee against them in your marketing, you give yourself an overwhelming advantage over your competitors.”
  3. Instead of checking in (“Hey, I just wanted to check and see if you’re ready to buy yet ...”), educate, consult and advise to build trust and position yourself as an expert. This is game-changing.

d) SMART Objective(s)

A During phase objective could be “Get consistent 20 MQLs per month by end of year” (MQL in this case is someone who downloads a piece of content on your website). Another During phase objective could be “$5MM in new business this year.”

3. After Phase

The final phase!! The goal of the After phase is to get customers to trust you, buy from you regularly and bring you referrals (new business).

How? Read on.

a) Delivering a World Class Experience

What happens after the sale is just as important (perhaps even more important!) than the steps taken before the sale. Why? Because business growth comes from those customers who are your raving fans.

Aha! Note: What’s your company’s renewal rate? Strive for 90% (of your customers) or more. It’s harder to get a new customer to buy (see HBR, 5X-25X harder) than it is to get repeat business.

If you want customers to buy from you regularly:

  • Find out what your customers want. Deliver that and also what they need. Instead of focusing on the transaction, focus on helping customers achieve their desired result. For example, if you’re selling a workplace perk for employees (B2B), routinely check in and make sure employees value that perk. Distribute surveys. See if/how you can make that perk even better. That’s how you create a tribe of raving fans.
  • Be innovative. You can do this with pricing, packaging, customer support, delivery, marketing, etc., as it relates to the customer experience.
  • Become a voice of value to your tribe. Here’s some great reading on how to be a thought leader. (BONUS! This also helps strangers become aware of who you are and what you believe, driving top of the funnel.)
  • Create scalable and repeatable systems that will allow you to run an extraordinary company. Customers will love you for your consistency, while investors and competitors will want to buy you because you have proprietary systems in place.

b) Increasing Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)

This is all about getting existing customers to buy more from you. There are several ways to accomplish this including:

  • Upsell Campaign (these types of campaigns are popular in e-commerce); “Most people who bought X also bought Y.”
  • Ascension Campaign (moving customers from the standard option to the premium one)
  • Frequency Campaign (e.g., subscription service)
  • Reactivation Campaign, reactivating past customers (also popular in e-commerce); “We Miss You!” or “Have We Done Something Wrong?”

Another way to increase CLV is … increase your prices!

c) Orchestrating and Stimulating Referrals

There are really two main ways to do this:

  1. Ask for referrals from customers (where you’ve done a good job). Plain and simple.
  2. Finding a complementary business that your customer deals with before they deal with you could be an opportunity. A B2B example: setting up a joint venture (JV) with consulting companies that have the same types of clients as you. They can recommend your company to help with very specific problems uncovered during their project. Very cool.

d) SMART Objective(s)

An After Phase objective could be “$20MM in repeat business this year.”

So, now that we’ve gone through all the details, I’m going to give you a couple of filled out, 1-Page Marketing Plans that I personally put together. There’s a slide for B2C and one for B2B. Feel free to make a copy of the first slide and edit it for your purposes.

Anna Furmanov
Former Company
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Anna Furmanov
Former company
About Author
Anna loves to paint, build, design, and communicate. She also enjoys understanding people and what makes them tick. So naturally, she's passionate about helping people build and sustain powerful brands and businesses. Anna has 10+ years marketing experience at big name brands, SMBs and startups. She has led marketing at two technology startups. Now she helps her clients solve challenging marketing problems around strategy, content, and lead gen, to achieve greater levels of business success. She lives with her husband and two kids (aka: life-long teachers) in Chicago (north suburbs).
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