BOOK REVIEW: Make marketing work for your business

The 1-Page Marketing Plan: Get New Customers, Make More Money, And Stand out From The Crowd by Allan Dib

THE marketing needs of large businesses are very different from those of medium and small businesses. The marketing priorities of small and medium sized businesses can be summed up in three words: “make profits now”. A R10m budget and the ability to wait three years for results require a very different marketing approach to your R50 000 budget, and your need for a return on your marketing investment in six months or less.

I have read and reviewed over 600 books and can affirm that there are many valuable marketing books aimed at large companies. However, there are very few that offer a comprehensive, valuable guide for small and medium businesses. This is one.

Why bother with a marketing plan? Are you (and your family) or company feeling secure knowing you have a plan to get your company to high profitability? Author Allan Dib contends that the biggest leverage point in any business is marketing, where a 10% improvement has a multiplier effect on the profitability.

The value of this book does not lie in its originality; I came across nothing original. The value lies in the its simplicity, practicality and useful marketing plan, that can be summarised in “1-page.”

It is important to know what marketing is and what it isn't. It is not an advertising or branding exercise. This is how Dib explains it: “If the circus is coming to town and you paint a sign saying 'Circus Coming to the Showground Saturday,' that’s advertising. If you put the sign on the back of an elephant and walk it into town, that’s promotion.

"If the elephant walks through the mayor’s flower bed and the local newspaper writes a story about it, that’s publicity. And if you get the mayor to laugh about it, that’s public relations. If the town’s citizens go to the circus, you show them the many entertainment booths, explain how much fun they’ll have spending money at the booths, answer their questions and ultimately, they spend a lot at the circus, that’s sales. And if you planned the whole thing, that’s marketing.”

The plan is to get your ideal target market to know, like and trust you enough to become your customer.

Focus on short-term returns

Your marketing plan must give you a short-term return on your investment. Every R2 must yield you R10 profit. For this reason, Dib favours direct response ads: “... they become lead-generating tools rather than just name-recognition tools. It’s trackable,” he explains. If the ad is not yielding a profit, you quickly drop or change it.

The 1-Page Marketing plan is made up of nine issues covering the three major phases of the marketing: before they show interest (prospects); when they have indicated some interest in your offer (leads); and after they have purchased (customers).

The first issue of the nine is the identification of your target market. Thinking that everyone is your target is “a typical newbie marketing mistake”. Those who don’t know exactly who they are marketing to, often see it as a way to ‘get your name out there’.

"I’m not really sure exactly where ‘there’ is or what’s supposed to happen when your name arrives 'there'," Dib remarks.

He uses the image of a disorientated archer, shooting his arrows randomly in the fog. This is a very wasteful process. The successful business needs a laser-like focus on a narrow target market for success. Too broad a focus weakens or dilutes your message.

Consider a bride-to-be looking for a photographer for her special day. What she is looking for is radically different from what a purchasing manager selling heavy machinery needs, when he wants a photograph for a product brochure. Your goal is for your prospect to say: that is what I want.

When your product is offered too broadly, you become a commodity bought on price.

To identify your ideal target market, you need to consider whether working with this customer would give you personal fulfilment. Would this market segment value your work, and how profitably can you serve this market segment? Your challenge is to find the segment that ticks all these boxes.

Get into your prospects' minds

To be able to relate to prospects meaningfully, you need to know as much as possible about them. What keeps them awake at night? What are they afraid of? What are they angry about? What are their top daily frustrations? And so on. “Unless you can get into the mind of your prospect, all your other marketing efforts will be wasted,” Dib explains.

When you know your target market and have advertised to them, you need to capture the leads you have garnered in a database system so you can follow up. Lead-capture is correctly addressing the interest you have aroused, to build your future sales pipeline on it.

Once you have the leads, you need to move from ‘hunter’ to ‘farmer’. The hunter is in a constant daily battle for success. The farmer plants his seed, and waits for them to be harvestable.

Planning according to the 9-step process is a way of ensuring you have a steady stream of leads, keen to become your customers over time. About 3% of your target market is ready to buy immediately; 7% is very open to buying, and another 30% are interested in buying from you, but not right now. A further 30% are not interested, and the last 30% wouldn’t even take your product if it was free. Your marketing plan should make you meaningful to the 40% who will buy, if correctly implemented.

Dib is firm about the need for a system, rather than random acts of marketing. “To build a system, we need to think it through from start to end. We need to understand how it works and what resources we’ll need to run it,” he explains. This book will lead you through just such a system.

You will find working through it slowly one of the most important things you have done in a long while. It is systematic, and feels like you have a guide by your side the whole way. The model is solid, and the guidance superb. Now it is up to you.

Readability:     Light --+-- Serious
Insights:        High -+--- Low
Practical:        High ----+ Low

* Ian Mann of Gateways consults internationally on leadership and strategy and is the author of Strategy that Works. Views expressed are his own.

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