How to write a marketing plan

How to write a marketing plan

A one-page marketing plan from 1955
envisioned a future for Jack Daniel’s
based on its heritage as a whiskey
made by real people in Lynchburg, Tenn.

From a book review in Fortune magazine 12/26/11

There are two versions of every plan, the big picture version and the detail version. Assuming the big picture version is realistic and carefully thought out, the detail version should come together nicely.

Try as I might, I can almost never get through a presentation of the big picture without someone interrupting to ask about a detail. Our creative director, Mike, who isn’t known for beating around the bush, says this is like asking a construction foreman about the color of the bathroom wallpaper in a house that doesn’t have a foundation yet.

People like details. They’re as important in advertising and direct marketing as they are in selling a house. They’re just not all that important to the people who are building the house. If the foundation, structure and utilities are right, you can have any color wallpaper you want.

So let the builders work.

We’ve gone through some of this in previous posts, but, just in case you missed them, here’s a summary.

All plans begin with Background. There are different terms for this but they all mean Background. Somewhere in the Background, there’s a simple rationale for why you’re involved in this effort in the first place.

Backgrounds are deceptively easy in that anyone intelligent and knowledgeable can write them. But they’re hard work. Think of spilling a 5 pound bag of sugar on the kitchen floor. Anyone can clean it up, but it’s hard work. Backgrounds are deceptive in another way, too, because, although they’re part of the big picture, they’re full of relevant detail.

Out of the Background comes the Objective, ONE Objective. Then comes the hard part: Strategy.

The next hardest part is simply a matter of discipline on fourcounts : staying on budget, staying real – guided by the Background, staying on target according to the Objective, linking every element of the execution to the Strategy. Finally, comes the hardest part of all: handing the big picture version of the plan, your baby, over to the detail people (even if you’re your own detail team).

Some details will be irrelevant to the plan and that’s fine as long as they don’t conflict with the already existing brand strategy. Other details will deviate from the core components of the big picture. Squash them.

Test, fine tune, roll out. Get and keep customers. Make money.