First, the bad news. A professional marketing plan and strategy can take 3-6 months to complete, requires a lot of research and a qualified expert to interpret the results. The good news? You can start a basic plan yourself.
I’ve worked with a lot of SMEs and Start-Up/Scale-Up organisations, and I understand their need for fast marketing direction and sales results, all with limited resources. Often, I’m required to drive the train (tactics) while laying the tracks (strategy).
Using my years of experience I have developed a short and simple starter pack for SMEs and Start-Ups, so you can at least get the foundation of your marketing within a few days.
It uses a new, slimline process that I call ‘Lean Strategy’. Let’s get started.
Start with SWOT, maybe add PEST
You’ve probably done SWOT analysis before, but just in case you haven’t…
SWOT is an acronym of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Strengths and Weaknesses are internal (within your organisation) and Opportunities and Threats are external (outside your organisation).
All the C-level executives (CEO, COO, etc) should complete a SWOT analysis separately. I recommend anybody in a senior position that is customer-facing (Head of Sales, Customer Service Manager, etc) should also complete a SWOT.
Collate all the answers and see if there are common themes. It should identify areas for improvement, but also your main selling points.
You may also consider doing PEST analysis. PEST adds an additional layer to the external Opportunities and Threats. PEST stands for Political, Economic, Social and Technological forces. If you are a Tech firm it will be worth the extra effort.
Next, understand Need, Want and Pain
Now you have a clear idea of what your team thinks you are good at, you can begin to outline how you can effectively satisfy your customers’ desires.
At a basic level, desires are broken down into Needs, Wants and Pains. I explore this in more detail in my article ‘Need, want, pain; what’s the difference, and why it matters‘. Here’s an explanation of each element:
- Need is an urgent desire. For example, I need some petrol for my car.
- Want is aspirational. Example, I’d like a better car.
- Pain is solving a problem, e.g. my car keeps breaking down.
Get into the mind of your customers and list what you believe could be their Needs, Wants and Pains.
Remember, Needs are urgent; “I have to fill up my car!”. Therefore, your marketing is all about timing – being in the right place at the right time.
Wants are aspirational, as such they apply to both potential customers and existing customers. A potential customer may want to upgrade from a Fiat 500 to a BMW 5 Series. For existing customers, there may be an opportunity to upsell. Persuading a BMW 3 Series customer about the benefits of the 5 Series.
Pains cause frustration. So a customer may initially contact you in a bad mood – ensure your team appreciate the customer’s frame of mind. But if you solve their pain, they will be delighted and are far more likely to recommend you to friends, family and colleagues.
When you are building your website, or creating online adverts or constructing an email campaign, ensure the message(s) satisfy your audiences Needs, Wants and Pains.
Finally, develop your Elevator Pitch
This is important because it encapsulates all the above work and helps your team to answer the question “What does your company do?” It also serves as a reminder of your key selling point (maybe even your Unique Selling Proposition – USP) which should feature in all your marketing.
How do you build an Elevator Pitch and who should be involved?
I recommend limiting the team for creating the Pitch to just two people. In my experience, more than two results in too many compromises as each person on the committee has an opinion and the result is a diluted (sometimes confused) message.
There’s a great saying that a Camel is a thoroughbred racehorse designed by committee. You don’t want a Camel.
I’ve used a structure to help flesh out the text of an Elevator Pitch. The structure is based on a Positioning Statement formula developed by Geoffrey Moore in his book “Crossing the Chasm“. You just need to fill in the blanks:
[Company, Service, Person]
is the one [category of product]
that provides [the target customer]
with [key benefit]
because [reason they should believe you can deliver the benefit]
Here’s an example of an Elevator Pitch for a fictitous Receruitment Agency:
is the one Recruitment Agency
that provides IT Candidates and Recruitment Managers
with vetted candidates and cutting edge IT jobs
because we have a unique 10-point candidate vetting process and only work with Fortune 500 IT brands.
Developing a good elevator pitch ensures that everyone in your organisation gives the same answer to the questions “What does your company do?” and “Why should I use your company?”
The above is not a replacement for a professionally produced marketing plan and strategy. But it does provide a quick foundation for executives that need a framework but don’t have the time or resources to write a full report.
The SWOT analysis should identify areas for improvement (so you offer the very best proposition), but also your main selling points. The identification of Needs, Wants & Pains should help you effectively satisfy your customers’ desires. And finally, the Elevator Pitch ensures everyone in your company gives the same answer to the questions “What does your company do?” and “Why should I use your company?”
You may want to supplement this slim plan with market research on your sector, surveys of your existing and potential customers to understand their buying behaviour or simply outline the objectives of your marketing (what do you want it to achieve).
If you need help, book your 1-hour marketing consultation with me. No charge, no obligation. Just complete the form below. Alternatively, download my PDF template ‘B2B Marketing Plan – Lean Strategy‘.
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