There is a new 5 “things” meme going around and I have just been tagged for it by Mary Schmidt. This time the idea is “thin-slice” a particular topic – a term coined by Malcolm Gladwell in his latest book Blink, and described as follows:
“Thin-slicing is a neat cognitive trick that involves taking a narrow slice of data, just what you can capture in the blink of an eye, and letting your intuition do the work for you.”
My task was to thin-slice a marketing plan – so here we go:
1) Do you really need a marketing “plan”?
Very often people just need to get out and engage with customers, prospects, influencers and connectors. There is no need for a marketing plan to do that. Often times marketing plans are just produced by marketing luddites as a CYA document. Granted, for some very large projects that involve large teams of people a plan can be useful – but more as a check-list than as a marketing roadmap.
2) Does the marketing plan show the addressable market being in the billions of dollars?
Any VC will scoff at these numbers – yet they won’t invest if it is not true. Don’t talk about the total addressable market, tell me how you will get your next 10 or 100 customers. Who are they, what do they do, where do they live, how will you reach them? Give me real life scenarios of potential customers and how you will help them solve their problem. Don’t give aggregate figures that have zero meaning.
3) Are you pretending or intending on being a leader in a category that nobody ever heard of?
Most companies I have worked with consider themselves the category leader in a category with one player – themselves. A category is recognized by others as a category and has other players in it. You can “create” a category, but you need help to create a new one – including help from competitors. Show me how you will create a new category, and who you will enlist to help with the creation? Show me how you will change the rules of the game in that category, how you will change the players or change their respective value as you enter the category – now that’s interesting!
4) Does your competitive review result in your company or product being in the upper right hand corner of some diagram?
Do I need to elaborate? You and everybody else lives there…it must be pretty tough to compete there. Show me where you are on the BS curve compared to others – that would be much more interesting…
5) What part of the plan deals with how you will deal with change?
The biggest danger with plans is that they become “bibles” – and once they are approved nobody can deviate from the chosen path. Yet most successful marketing programs are emergent in nature, they are like a jamming sessions…and so back to point 1) do you really need a marketing plan?
And now my turn to tag:
- Tara – how about engaging communities as part of your marketing plan?
- Pito – what about product plans?
- Jackie – how about word of mouth marketing plans?
- Chris – what about customer service strategies?
- Tom – what about brand strategies?
- [updated] I decided to add a 6th one as I care about PR and Europeans 🙂 – Neville, what do you think?