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Marketing Plans [Part 5] 



I trust you have had a very safe 4th of July Weekend celebration. I hope you took time to enjoy your friends and family with the little extra time that this holiday created.

Table of Contents:


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Listen to the Podcast Here:

total running time: 17:00 --  Download the MP3 here

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

You’ll recall in part 1 of this series we learned 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 that 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.

We then learned how to take an inventory using the “SWOTS” analysis and establish 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 our last lesson, we began to plot our course, and determine a conceptual strategy that fulfills our corporate philosophy for reaching our target market.

In this final lesson we begin to shift away from the conceptual and into the practical application.

The Marketing Budget
Before embarking on your journey of traveling from point A to point B, you will have several transportation options, and choosing one that fits within your means will help you get to where you’re going
much faster than a mismatch. 

Lets say your destination is 200 miles north of you.  Depending on how much time you have, the topography of the land, the transportation system, and your budget, you will choose a means of transportation suitable to reaching your destination. Keep in mind; the destination is where you’ve said your company will be by next year.

Therefore, while you can charter a private jet, it will be among the fastest and most costly means. However, riding a bicycle or even walking may be viable means reaching your destination within as little as 3-4 days at a fraction of the cost. 

Now, if you’ve chosen the private jet, but cannot afford it, and your racing against someone else who has the means to walk, guess who reaches the destination first?  While you expending time and energy to raise the capital for the chartered flight, your competitor is closing in on your intended destination. And while flying seems the best option, it carries added risks and problems that can scare investors away, not to mention their questioning your decision for the highest and optimal use of their resources.

Better to make measurable progress than to be stubborn and idealistic.

Your marketing budget will determine the type of marketing strategy you execute; the types of media you use to communicate with your prospects and customers and the breadth of your campaigns.  Your budget will also dictate the depth or complexity of your initiatives.  Fail to operate within your budget, and you’ll have bigger problems, I guarantee it!

Where does this budget come from?  I can hear many small business owners barking, “we can’t afford to market!”, to which I must reply, “You can’t afford NOT to!”.  Defining a marketing budget starts with discipline.  Are you disciplined in dedicating a percentage of your sales every month toward executing marketing initiatives?

This is where a strong financial picture of your business is essential.  Based on this picture you should have an idea of the following:

  • Your profit margin excluding fixed costs & overhead – basically how much profit does one customer generate, this should be expressed as a fixed dollar amount average and a percentage.
  • The volume of sales needed to break even, covering your overhead and fixed expenses – basically how many customers do you need?
  • What is the lifetime value in terms of revenues and in terms of profits of a newly acquired customer?

With this information, you can comfortably choose a percentage of your revenues as your marketing budget.  If you are a start-up, then you will need to do more research, modeling and benchmarking against other similar businesses to help you determine how much capital you will require to achieve your marketing related milestones.

The Marketing MIX – WHAT, WHOM, HOW
Each strategy, campaign or initiative you develop must carefully blend 3 primary factors to achieve optimal ROI performance; 1. Your MESSAGE, 2. Your MARKET and 3. Your MEDIUM.  This is basically, WHAT you say, to WHOM you say it, and via what channel or HOW you deliver it.

If you have been following this series, then by now you should have a very clear picture of your TARGET MARKET, their lifecycle and life events. This will factor into your message, and the mediums you choose to communicate through.

Success is determined by delivering the right message to the right person at the right time. Remember that traditional marketing efforts focus on generating interest, sales efforts focus on closing a sale – thus, in addition to your marketing strategy, you will also want to develop a sales strategy.

The Message
There are many resources that discuss the importance of crafting a sound, clear, customer driven message.  In your marketing plan, you will want to detail what is the
ESSENCE of your message, how will the message be refined and or elaborated on.  In an effective marketing plan, its ok to be conceptual and theoretical about your message; it is understood that it will evolve under actual implementation and testing.

The Medium
This portion of your marketing plan details what methods or channels you will use to DISTRIBUTE and carry your message to your customers and prospects.  It’s important to choose a marketing medium that gives you the highest return on your marketing dollar (ROMD). This means that you want to choose the medium that delivers the most customers for the lowest possible cost.

Your marketing plan details the mediums you will test, what measures you will use to track success, and the primary objective of each of your campaigns.

The following is a sampling of tools you have at your disposal to get your message out:

Air Blimps
Business cards
Card decks
Charity events
Classified ads
Ezine ads
Fax broadcasts
Gift Certificates
Magazine ads
Media releases
Movie ads
Newspaper ads
Public speaking
Radio ads
Sales letters
Sign picketing
Special events
Take-one box
Television ads
Trade shows
Window display
Yellow pages

The trick is to match your message to your market using the right medium. It would do you no good to advertise your retirement community using a fast-paced, loud radio spot on a hip-hop radio station. This is a complete mismatch of the market, message, and medium.

Success will come when there is a good match of these three elements.

The Marketing MIX – Reach, Frequency and Continuity

  • Reach - the unduplicated proportion of an audience that is exposed to an advertising message. In shorthand, reach is the number of customers and prospective customers who will see and/or hear the advertising message each month.
  • Frequency - the number of times that advertising is seen and/or heard by customers and prospective customers during a given period.
  • Continuity - the number of weeks or period during the year in which you advertise.

Each of these three aspects of a media plan has a cost attached. The more customers you want to reach with your advertisement, the more it will cost. Or, you can reach fewer people, but reach them more often, which also costs more money.

The key to any successful advertising plan is careful, deliberate and controlled testing.  Once you have tweaked your campaigns for optimal performance, then you can commit to a full scale spend.

Your homework for this fifth and final installment of creating an effective marketing plan, you will develop your marketing budget and milestones; and create a conceptual marketing mix and advertising strategy for testing purposes.

Outsourcing your Marketing Plan:
As you can see over the 5 installments, an effective marketing plan can take a significant amount of time and resources. So just how much does a marketing plan like the one above cost?  

Much would depend on the industry the business is in as some industries are more complex and convoluted adding to the amount of expertise required and to the level of complexity of the strategy. In addition, another significant determining factor is the availability of historical information about companies performing the industry, in either case of too much or not enough data, added time may be needed to assimilate the information to the marketing plan as appropriate.

Lastly, I highly advise against asking a professional service provider for a “quote” to produce a marketing plan, as often the case, it is very difficult to gauge the complexity of the industry and the availability of data until one gets knee-deep into the project.  

Therefore, I recommend retaining a professional and being prepared to augment their services with a small team of college interns who can do much of the heavy research related grunt work. Using this technique, I’ve seen plans produced for as little as $2,000 but have also seen them run as much as $20,000.

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 answer any questions you may have.

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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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© 2006 ALTI Success Strategies