How to Build a Better Marketing Plan

The reason business plans don’t work is they are self-centred.  They attempt to persuade others of the effectiveness of your idea and so depend upon defending your idea.  This post shows you how to think of planning in a different way to build a better marketing plan.

Three Principles

Understand three principles to underpin your approach to marketing.

The first is empathy.  We’ve covered why your business thrives on empathy in earlier posts.  You must see the world through your market’s eyes.  They need to know you understand not only the problem but also them.

Then a second principle is humility.  This implies a collaborative approach to marketing, where you work with others.  This is not about forcing your way into your market’s lives.  It is about an invitation to explore together.

Finally, your plan needs a healthy dose of effectiveness.  You must show you deliver on your promises; your approach works for your market.

Five Point Plan

  1. What do you know to be true about your market?  What is impossible to argue against because reliable informationit backs it up?
  2. The assumptions you make. These play the role of hypotheses in science and must be testable.  “I can’t say for certain this is true but I know how to test it.”
  3. What are you going to do should your current assumptions prove to be false?
  4. Who is on your team and what skills and insights do they bring to your business?
  5. How much will it cost in time and money?

Making it Real

The biggest challenge any marketer has is to take their idea into the world.  The problem is subconscious resistance to selling and marketing in general; fear of asking for money.

If I hesitate and don’t put my idea out there, should I fail it will be a private failure and I won’t lose face.  If I don’t put my idea out there I will certainly fail.  And I will fail and look foolish if I do put my idea out there.  I may have to look foolish several times before something works and so vindicates my efforts.

Not prepared?  So, why are you in business?

Your marketing plan is a foundation.  It offers a solid reason why you are in the market and some fall-back positions for when your first efforts fail.  You may need to revise it several times but more wisdom informs each revision.

One last thing.  You can waste a lot of time tinkering with your offer.  Focus on your marketing and get some customers.  You will meet the promises you make for them even if your offer is not ready.  Keeping promises is always easier than making them.

Following this eighteenth post to encourage coaches to reflect on relational marketing, take this opportunity to sign up below.  You get a weekly round-up of my posts and a pdf about how to make sure you are charging what your business is worth.  Most weeks you receive an email with helpful news or pointers to how you can tackle these questions.

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About the Author

I've been a community development worker since the early 1980s in Tyneside, Teesside and South Yorkshire. I've also worked nationally for the Methodist Church for eight years supporting community projects through the church's grants programme. These days I am developing an online community development practice combining non-directive consultancy, strategic management, participatory methods and development work online and offline. If you're interested contact me for a free consultation.

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