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Marketing Plans [Part 4] 

May/08/2006

Hi, 

Sorry this month's newsletter is running a little behind schedule, but, I've had to add a 5th part to our Marketing Plan series which is the primary reason for the hold-up.

Table of Contents:

 

Save Time - Typing Automation Tricks:

On an average day, I personally respond to, type and send at least 20 e-mails - most of which require more than the 5 word cave-man response - go on, laugh, I know you've seen them.  

If sending 20 e-mails a day sounds like a lot, then why do I constantly have so many more that need to go out than what I am sending?  Have you ever felt like you just can't ever get to sending all the e-mails you know you should?

In fact, I am so obsessed with the amount of time I spend drafting responses to e-mails that I tracked the time I spent in one week.  I was astonished when I learned that I spend better than 10 hours a week responding to e-mails. 

Holy Cr*p!  That's one whole long work day, just writing e-mails.  In fact, there are at least 2 emails I send every day that require as much as 20 minutes each to compose: 40 minutes, just 2 e-mails...  Something's got to give. 

Here is how I've taken back nearly 4 hours of time and increased my outbound e-mail volume by 20% - and I am still a hunt-and-peck typist!

Stock e-mail responses - I started using this trick years ago.  I spent some time drafting a really solid follow-up e-mail that I can send to all the people I meet through networking. I would personalize and customize the first and last paragraph.  The key is that the content needs to be brief and succinct enough to be relevant.

As new situations would emerge, I'd create a new version, then, after sending, I'd always go into my sent folder, open the e-mail, choose "resend" from the "actions" menu, tweak it and then save 2 copies into my draft folder in Outlook. 

The best part is that every time you use one of the stock responses, go over it quickly to be certain that it is accurate and up-to-date, thus, your stock responses should never become obsolete. 

This is a great solution for churning out whole complete e-mails.  But, what about repetitive blocks of text?  Many of the e-mails I compose contain whole blocks of text from several paragraphs down to just a sentence that are somewhat repetitive.  I've always tried to make good use of the copy & paste function, but sometimes finding the location of the needed text can be just as time consuming.

Typing Automator - I discovered this tool about 7 months ago and every time I type text that I think I'll need to re-use in the future, I highlight the text, and add it to the typing automator.

For frequently used snippets, I can call the text from an easy to remember short cut code.  For example, I always sign my e-mails, "To Your Success" and I use the code "TYS", or to enter my contact info, I just type "CNTCT1". Imagine never typing out all your contact information ever again!

Now if you can't remember all the codes, don't worry, the program always runs, and in 2 clicks, I can view my entire content library, organized into topic and sub-topic folder.  In 2 more clicks, I can send the selected text into an e-mail, word document, text box or any other application that accepts text.

I've composed entire e-mails directly from the Typing Automator interface.  click-click, click-click, click-click, done.  What would have taken me 4-6 minutes hunting, copying, pasting and editing is now down to 2 minutes.

There is a free version that you can test to see if it works for you - download the free version HERE.  Go here for more info.

Your Opinion Counts - Plus Get $200 of Free Tools:

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DEVELOPING MARKETING PLANS [PART 4]:

Listen to the Podcast Here:

total running time: 23:00 --  Download the MP3 here

In our next-to-last installment of creating effective quality marketing plans, we arrive at my favorite part, the Strategy or to follow our analogy, "plotting the course".

You should recall that in part 1 of this series we learned that an effective, quality marketing plan is part strategy, part compass, and part road-map and must encompass the present, the near future and the long term.

We learned that conducting a market potential feasibility analysis is like a COMPASS, it orients us as to the direction we want to travel, identifying for us our market – the "true north".

We also learned that we needed a ROAD-MAP, to understand our environment and we used 3 tools, a PEST analysis, Porters 5 Forces analysis and a Positioning Grid to gain insight into obstacles, competition and the topography of an industry.

In our last lesson, we learned how to take an inventory using the "SWOTS" analysis and we established a "destination" using both the extrapolated method where we compound current performance and a reverse engineered method where we select a destination and back into our current status.  In both cases, we did not plot our course, or determined the strategy that will yield the results we seek.  But, we are getting close…

In this lesson we take everything we’ve done so far, draw extensively on our "tools", our compass, our road-map, our starting location and our intended destinations for year 1, 3 and 5 to chart a path to move from where we are to where we want to be within the constraints offered by our compass and road map and our ability / resources.

Developing the Marketing Plan
The plan for years three and five is mostly theoretical and conceptual.  Bear in mind that your assumptions will need to be validated against the believability of your assumptions and strategy outlined in your plan for years one and two.  Therefore, the bulk of an effective, quality marketing plan will be spent detailing strategies for the next 2 years and have 2 layers, the conceptual strategy and the tactical execution strategy.

The Conceptual Strategy
Ask 10 marketers to define the conceptual strategy of a marketing plan and you’ll get 10 convoluted, hard-to-follow statements full of meaningless marketing jargon. My research has uncovered 10 such "requirements" from many well-known marketing "gurus".  In a future issue of this newsletter, I will attempt to clarify and differentiate each of these items, but for now, here is a list for you to consider…

  • Mission Statement
  • Vision Statement
  • Benefit Statement
  • Positioning Statement
  • Value Proposition
  • Unique Sales Proposition
  • Strategic Differentiation Statement
  • Brand
  • Brand Promise
  • Brand Identity

Before you try to figure out what all these statements are needed for, and exactly how each is different from the other, I will advise you to first develop your "Corporate Philosophy". My friend Alan Chapman defines this as:

"Philosophy is the perspective by which staff, customers, suppliers and the world at large can truly align with the organization".  In other words, how do you want all the people you touch to conceptually mesh with your company?  What is the common ground, the passion that resonates with them? What is the core motivation that drives their support?

Issues that represent the emerging and converging ideas that need to be considered include: Corporate Social Responsibility, the Triple Bottom Line, Sustainability, Corporate Integrity, Ethics, Love and Compassion, Humanity and Morality, Congruence and Alignment (between employer and employees), etc.

Defining a meaningful philosophy that reconciles all of these ideas with the economic necessities of the organization; is the foundation on which all the other marketing elements are built - whatever the elements are and however they are defined.

Chances are, you’re already operating with a philosophy in mind. You just need to be able to communicate your philosophy, ethics and corporate position of integrity clearly, simply and succinctly so that everyone you touch clearly gets it.  Mr. Chapman has written extensively on this subject, so instead of belaboring the point here, you can read more at www.alanchapman.com/market.htm

Once you have completed your conceptual strategy, from the philosophical to the product benefits and positioning, your next step will be to develop a tactical execution strategy.  Specifically, what actions are you planning to take to achieve the stated goals.

The Tactical Execution Strategy
This is where I see many business owners attempting to start with their marketing planning efforts.  This kind of impatience reeks of desperation and worst of all, band-aid marketing – with no higher vision, no clear purpose and no guidance. This knee-jerk type of plan is only as good as what went into it and offers limited results at best – if any at all.  An effective strategic marketing plan is NOT a sprint event; it is an endurance event that requires the planning of the previous three parts covered in this newsletter.

Your tactical execution strategy will leverage a mix of marketing channels that supports your conceptual strategy. It will take into account the work you’ve done to understand your market and identify your "true north".  It will direct your initiatives relative to the topography, competition and obstacles present in your market.  It will call upon your assets, and strengths and have identified your intended destination. 

Quite simply, this part of your plan is the actual steps of HOW you intend to reach your goals and fulfill your objectives and HOW you will measure the success of each initiative, (also known as ROMD – Return On each Marketing Dollars spent).

Many marketing plans I’ve seen expend a great deal of time and resources to the acquisition of new customers, please make certain you spend nearly as much time on retention and loyalty initiatives since it is far more cost effective to sell to a previous customer than it is to find a new one.

Effective marketing plans require understanding the lifecycle stages customers go through. There are 2 lifecycles, the stages they go through as they become your customer and mature into raving loyal fans or move on to another vendor.  The other is the individuals’ personal lifecycle - observing their unique life events and behaviors can present key  moments and opportunities to connect with your customer. Every interaction between your company and an individual (or lack thereof) provides an opportunity to improve the relevance of your messages and the ROI of your campaigns.

Customer Lifecycle
The six stages of every customer’s lifecycle are:

  • Prospects - non-customers, yet fit the profile of a target customer. 

  • First Time Buyers - in a trial stage, and need to have a good experience in order to maintain a long-term relationship with your business. 

  • Limited Buyers - have made repeat purchases however they do not use you exclusively.

  • Loyal Buyers - customers who buy only from you. Regardless of the amount of money they spend, their buying patterns are consistent and predictable. They tend to be your raving fans, and represent your most powerful sales force.

  • At Risk Customers – this group has become dissatisfied and no longer feels they are getting a good value from your business. As such, they have the potential of defecting, and moving their business elsewhere. 

  • Defectors – these customers have become so dissatisfied, that they have moved their account into the care of another vendor.

Knowing which of these six stages each customer is in will let you develop the right marketing and communication strategy to better manage your relationship with that customer. The process of marketing and communicating to customers through these stages is often termed as "Customer Relationship Management", or CRM.

Sales and Marketing Strategies
Each of the six stages within a customer’s lifecycle is the result of that customer’s unique experiences, expectations, needs and desires.

In order to fully maximize the revenue and profit potential from each customer, different sales and marketing strategies should be used for each of the six customer types.

Match these strategies to the lifecycle stages:

1.   Acquisition Strategy includes all sales and marketing ideas used to acquire new customers. The goal here is to convert prospects into buyers of your product or service.

2.   Activation Strategy is used to move first-time buyers to limited buyers. The objective here is to welcome new customers, educate them to the many services you have to offer, and encourage them to become repeat purchasers in order to build a consistent buying pattern.  

3.   Up-Sell and Cross-Sell Strategies are used after the customer has established buying patterns in order to move them from limited buyers to frequent, loyal buyers. At this point, you should begin encouraging them to try new or additional services by providing incentives to customers for higher spending levels.  

4.   Loyalty Strategy is designed to recognize, reward, and say "Thank You" to your most valuable customers. Keep in mind, "most valuable" doesn’t necessarily mean biggest spending. These customers may just regularly refer other customers to you making them "valuable," even if they don’t technically spend the most money.  

5.   Retention Strategy is a recovery effort needed to reinforce or restore value to a customer when it has been lost. Key warning indicators such as declining sales volume or customer complaints are usually signs of customer dissatisfaction and predict the likelihood of attrition. 

6.   Reactivate Strategy is a specialized campaign designed to re-introduce, and re-engage customers who have churned or been inactive.  While our human nature wants to resist admitting any wrong-doing, you’ll be amazed at the positive results some have had in turning ex-customers back into loyal buyers.

Your homework for this fourth part of creating an effective marketing plan, you will focus your efforts on defining a conceptual strategy and corporate philosophy and begin to brainstorm tactics and strategies to reach your market throughout every life transition the customer faces and through every stage of the customer lifecycle.

In our fifth and final installment of creating effective, quality marketing plans, we will discuss budgeting, the marketing mix, your message and creating a media or advertising plan.

Do you have questions, comments or feedback specifically related to developing marketing plans?  I encourage you to send all responses to me at and I'll do my best to integrate answers throughout the series as we go.

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PLEASE: STAY IN TOUCH
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Up-Coming Topics For Discussion:  

  • Marketing Plans (part 5)

  • eMail Marketing

  • Creating Joint Ventures and Alliances

  • Using the Web for List Building

  • Creating a Funding Strategy

  • Managing and Evaluating Ideas 

Want to suggest a topic, ask a question or offer a comment?  Please send your input to me at

To your success,

Allan Sabo
Chief Success Advisor
ALTI Success Strategies



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