RIPPLEDIP RESOURCES THE TEN BASIC GUIDES NO 1: THE BASICS OF MARKETING BY SAMUEL J. SLEGER THE NECESSITY OF A MARKETING PLAN The amazing thing about business today is that having an idea, even the best idea in the history of humanity, means zilch if you don’t know who you’re selling to. The age of 1-dimensional businesses that can create a product and just sell it are over. You must create and connect, add value and explain that value, improve upon and sell yourself. Just like knowing yourself takes hard work, knowing your customer also requires hard work and thought. Businesses have lived and died by their marketing, and a good product can eventually gain traction, at times very slowly over a long period, and a bad product with great marketing can kill it for a short time till the produc- t’s efficacy is discovered. (Nothing makes me want to set a company on fire faster than getting something in the mail that completely underwhelms my expecta- tions because the marketing oversold the product. I hate slick dicks.) Success today requires both a good product or service AND a good marketing plan. We’re at an interesting time in history where people demand more than the utilitarian benefit of a product. They want the product or service to do as de- scribed, yes, but people also want the story. They want to hear their soap was pro- duced without harming animals. They want to know if their coffee beans were made in a way that didn’t take advantage of the farmers. They want their candles soy, and sustainable. Customers seek to form a relationship with their product, and use their purchases as extensions of their ethics and values. They speak with the dollars in a way that goes far beyond the product itself, and hold small busi- nesses accountable on a level of other standards. THE PURPOSE OF A MARKETING PLAN This is why you need a marketing strategy plan. Your marketing plan, which says how you will sell your product, is just as important as your business plan, which says what your product is and what the market for that product looks like. And today we are far beyond the days of setting up a Facebook page and Insta- gram account and calling your marketing efforts a success. You need to shine ev- erywhere, and a good marketing plan will take in to account that just because you can be found somewhere, it doesn’t mean all your customers can as well. Good marketing is about finding where your customers spend their attention, and then inserting yourself in to the conversation in those areas. To do this you must have a marketing plan outline, which is nothing more than a road map for how you’re going to connect and get the voluntary attention of your customers so you can have an ongoing conversation with them. MARKETING PLAN OUTLINE Toss out 90% of the templates you’ve seen online for creating a marketing plan. If it’s done in anything other than some sort of spreadsheet program (like excel), it’s worthless. You need sheets, many of them on many tabs, to track and manage your marketing plan outline. I’m not being dramatic here either, folks. A marketing plan outline should take in to account your complete sales funnel, because that’s what good marketing does - it moves a consumer down the pathway from becoming aware of your brand to taking action. To accomplish that you need to the following: Market Positioning • How will you position yourself in the market? • What makes you unique? • What important messages do you want to share with your customers? Said another way, the marketing position portion of your marketing plan repre- sents who your customers are, and the core messages you want your customers to receive. These should be concise and allow you to stand out from competitors in the market. WHAT A GOOD PLAN CONSIDERS What are your objectives based on what you have learned about your market posi- tioning? You must define your methods (referrals, social media, email, sales reps, paid advertising, radio ads, organic SEO) and mode- action items for your meth- ods. For instance, if I want to improve my organic SEO online (method) I must research and understand keywords surrounding my industry (action item) and position myself accordingly to maximize awareness for those looking to fulfill the need I satisfy (action item). One final note here, don’t lie - be authentic. You must be honest and real. If your product isn’t the best on the market, don’t tell me that it is. If it’s the most fun, say that. If your product is clunky, don’t call it efficient. Find the positive traits about your product and service, and tell me those. Good selling is nothing more than matching your product or service to the customers that want what you are offering. Lying gets you the wrong customers who then get pissed off and want to curse you out. METRICS Marketing is useless without metrics, and taking any action is worthless without the data. I’m a data freak. Give me that shit so I know what’s happening. I’ve talked to too many “marketing professionals” who’ve used thousands of words to say - “We spent a lot of money this month on brand awareness.” Brand awareness doesn’t mean shit if sales aren’t translating. I don’t care if everyone knows my name. I care how deep those friendships are and if I’m making money. GOALS Are you actually following through on your marketing action items, the plan you formed in an earlier step? We are our own worst enemies in this, so create ways to prevent yourself from not doing what needs to be done. If you have been inten- tional, and have thought out what you need to do, then do the hard work of actual- ly doing it, otherwise all that strategy will have been for nothing. Execution is the crossroads of marketing and ops, and so many marketers are horrible because they never execute. THE BUILT-IN FLEXIBILITY As you might have noticed, each step in the marketing plan builds upon the prior step, so start by first understanding before you form a plan, try to track that plan, and develop goals to see how effective your efforts have been. You will find that on some of your objectives you hit the mark, and on others you missed. Fast feedback is important so you don’t keep wasting time and energy do- ing things that don’t matter. Fail fast, learn, and change. Remember that your marketing plan, a good marketing strategy plan is flexible enough to adapt to new information.