Much of the marketing advice you will find online and in books isn’t worth reading. It’s not that it’s bad advice, it’s just that you don’t learn much (or even anything) from it. For example, if you search, “how to write a marketing plan” you get advice like set your goals, do a SWOT analysis, know your market, make sure you have a strong brand. Advice like that is unsatisfying. It’s like taking a slug of your Coke and finding out the ice has watered it down and the fizz is gone.
Another agency head once told me that advertising is a young person’s game. Maybe that’s the reason: It’s young folks writing the marketing advice who simply lack experience. Like the old Charley Pride song, “I Grew Old Too Fast and Smart Too Slow.”
At 65, I’m a much smarter marketer than when I started out. Fortunately, I had a couple bosses who I learned a lot from. One time I convinced them to spend $40,000 on a mailer I wrote and designed. Leads were costing us about $6 each at the time and I was sure I could beat that. If my memory serves me right, we got about 10 leads from my mailer. The lead cost jumped to $4,000 a piece. Not one of my finer moments. I still cringe when I think about it. But, hey, we learn from our mistakes and I don’t remember being called on the carpet for it.
Not to brag, but at age 65 I’m highly confident about my understanding of marketing. When you stick with one thing for a lifetime, you learn a lot.
I’m especially proud of the latest marketing product our agency offers. We call it our Brand Playbook System. It’s a better marketing plan for three reasons. First of all, it’s simple and easy to understand. I’ve found that most marketing plans are much too broad, causing them to miss the point, which is to sell more stuff. They end up being more like a business plan and that’s not the purpose.
The second reason our marketing plan is better is that our marketing plan is based on a process. Because marketing is a highly creative field, you have to be careful of wild goose chases and rabbit trails. Creative people love to run this-way and that. Repeatable processes are what makes organizations run smoothly and marketing is no different. Think of process as the cake and creativity as the frosting. All creativity and no process makes for a mess. Understanding marketing as a process is the subject of my Amazon best seller, “The CEO’s Guide to Marketing.”
The third reason I believe our Brand Playbook System is better is that it’s an ongoing system. It connects the plan with regularly scheduled meetings that guide the execution of the plan. Too often marketing plans are crafted to sound good during a 30-minute presentation but lack the follow through component that is the constant driver of execution. It’s easy to talk big about what you are going to accomplish. It’s a whole other ballgame spending every day for a year keeping the plan on track.
The truth is, a good marketing plan should humble not thrill you. It shows just how much has to be done and how little money and manpower you have to accomplish the plan. I’ve yet to see a client whose marketing opportunities didn’t far exceed their budget. There are plenty of agencies who take advantage of a client’s hopefulness by fanning the flames of excitement. When Mike Danielson sees other agencies doing this, he calls it serving up marketing cocktails. (Mike was the first employee I hired over 30 years ago and is now a partner in the agency.) He tells me some of his best clients are the ones who came back after passing him over in favor of … let’s call them a good bartender. The hangover of spending big money on empty promises is painful.
If you are questioning your marketing, launching a new product or in the midst of writing a marketing plan, stop and take a moment to call us at 952-697-5269 (or contact us using this form). Give us the opportunity to show you why our Brand Playbook System is the solution you’ve been looking for.