What do good marketing plans look like, what’s in them, and how do you build them?

Good marketing plans are buyer centric. They’re all about the problem that the buyer has and that you solve. They’re built together. They’re complete. They’re benchmarked compared to the market. They’re compared to actual performance, or the plan versus actual, and they’re constantly iterated.

To answer the question, we went Googling and we found five articles. We always look for five, so there’s four from Google and one from BuzzSumo because we want to know what’s being really shared and enjoyed and, rather, just what’s being optimized. Let me show you those five articles now. Then quickly summarize them, and then I’ll give you my recommendations on what good marketing plans look like.

The first article we found is from Tim Berry on Open Forum. It’s a good article. I enjoyed it on several fronts. Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software. Let me give you a sense of what he said. It’s a short article, but it makes some pretty clear points.

Start with your market focus and define a narrow enough market that you can own. Then work out the product that matches the market. Sounds kind of obvious but so many people build the product first and then the market. Start with your market. Then work out what does a great product look like for that market. Tim, I agree with you. Concrete measurable specifics, responsibility and accountability, et cetera. I agree with everything he said in this article. The data suggests that when you build the plan quickly together, and review it often, you get measurable improvements.

Now, I mentioned this last week. If you didn’t see last week’s show, there’s 31% better lead acceptance, meaning 31% of your leads will get accepted by sales, 56% better closure on marketing leads, so your leads are more useful, and 62% more revenue comes from more business, as opposed to companies that don’t build together and review quickly and often. Tim’s saying it. I’m agreeing with it. Got a bit of data there to prove my point.

Next article we found was from Leap Frog. Let’s go back to the top. Leap Frog Solutions: Seven Key Tips in Developing a Successful Marketing Plan. Seven tips, as promised. I actually don’t disagree with any of it. There’s nothing in this that I would take issue with, but it’s pretty bland by contrast to Tim’s punchy points, so I’m not going to recommend that you read it.

Remember, by the way, that these folk didn’t necessarily set out to build B2B. I’m only interested in B2B, and I’m only interested in things that can make, powerful points. I’m being pretty selective in what I show to you. This one’s good but not amazing for that narrow purpose. It might be great for other purposes, so I’m not trying dis the author here, just for our use case.

Next one: “How to Create a Marketing Plan” from entrepreneur.com. It’s kind of the same as blog number two. I don’t disagree with any of it. How to create a marketing plan, but despite the title, it says, “How to Create a Successful Marketing Plan,” it doesn’t actually tell you how. It just says why you should and who should see it. That’s a bit disappointing. I hate that sort of misalignment. If I was Googling and looking for good marketing plans, I would move past this one, and I recommend you do to.

Now, “Creating A Successful Marketing Strategy,” by Andrew Klausner. This is not Andrew’s fault. Google has served up a page about marketing strategy, not marketing plan. Now, they are different of course, but if we’re looking for good marketing plans, this wouldn’t help. Is there something valuable in here despite that? Well, no, not really actually. That’s it. I’ve near reached the end of the article. Two paragraphs and five bullet points. I love succinct, but succinct had better be powerful. It’s not. It’s just short, so it’s kind of: where’s the beef? We pass on that one.

Finally, we go to the most shared on the topic of good marketing plans, and the article, back up to the top, “Netflix and Native Advertising: A Tricky Marketing Plan Done Good.” Great English. You can see why it came up “good marketing plans” I guess. Anyhow, what do I think about this Netflix article? Look, it’s a really cool insight from purchased, branded content that’s so damn good that you’ll forgive the fact that it’s a big ad, not this article but what the article’s referring to. Here’s the link down here. Lots of links in the article, but this is the one you want to choose. Here’s the thing, it’s a good piece, a really good piece. By the way, I agree with the author of this article. It is a really good piece. Thanks Aaron.

The article itself doesn’t say much. The point that the article makes, though, I would agree with. It’s a really clever advertising piece. Basically, Netflix went to “Wall Street Journal,” paid the “Wall Street Journal’s” branded marketing team to create this piece. That’s a blatant ad, but it’s so good that you forgive the fact that it’s an ad. It’s just a great piece of content. It’s gripping reading with content promoting the Narcos series in the article.

Now, it’s cool, but is it helpful for a B to B marketer looking for great ideas on what good marketing plans look like? Well, not so much, but do I recommend reading it? You bet. The “Wall Street Journal” piece really … This article will get you to it, not because it’s related to today’s topic but just because it’s so damn good, and we all like great marketing.

Hey, this is the final one. I mentioned briefly in one of the blog reviews or the article reviews about the research that we did with Marketo, published in 2014. I’ll include a link to this in the show notes, but this is what I was referring to. There were ten key insights, and the one that I was referring to was “planning jointly, quickly, and often lifts the performance of the engine.” I gave you the steps on that. Check out that report if you haven’t already read it.

I’ll give you my spin on that shortly, but let me first honor those five articles. What are they saying? Then I’ll give you my spin.

  • Good marketing plans start with clear goals.
  • They find a small market to own, not a big one to bounce around in.
  • They find the solution that meets the market’s needs.
  • They ID the right tactics to take that solution to market and build the plan together.
  • They get specific and actionable.

In shows of the last three weeks, I’ve been talking about marketing plans generally: what’s involved, what’s not involved, so today, I’m not going to go down that path. Instead, there are some really useful insights, from these articles and from our own experience, I’d like to quickly share with you now.

  • Good marketing plans are buyer centric.
  • They’re all about the problem and not the product.
  • They’re built together. Clearly, I agree with the other authors.
  • They’re complete.
  • They’re benchmarked versus the market.
  • They’re compared to actual, so don’t just build the plan.
  • Compare it constantly to your actual performance and, using that data, constantly iterated, point six.

That’s why we build funnel plan. For free, you can build your plan, involve your colleagues, constantly iterate it, get free weekly coaching drawn on deep data. We’ve got not just your plan but thousands of others. Using all of those plans, anonymized, we can give you some insights based on what others are doing that you should consider doing. All of that for free forever. If you then choose to pay a little money on top of that, you can get some other things on top, but again, all that stuff for free.

If you pay a little, you can also get the ability to connect your plan to actuals. Connect it into salesforce.com, and you can compare what’s supposed to go on, to what’s actually going on and your insights therefore, can get much richer. Before you even do that, you can go way deeper on the analysis. You can get clearer and more specific on the plan. Better plan, better data to compare it to, and therefore, better coaching. However, start off with the free plan. Check out www.funnelplan.com.

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