Eight Hour Marketing Plan™

Develop a basic Marketing Plan in only 8 hours with the 8 Hour Marketing Plan™
I first published my eight hour marketing plan in 2000 when I worked with a number of online businesses to try to get them to understand how easy it was to develop a simple plan.  This is a little out of date now and I will get around to updating it at some time; but I thought it was worth publishing anyway.

Hour 1 - Information gathering about your business

Get yourself a large box. Gather as much information as you can in one hour. This may not seem like long, but believe me after one hour you will be glad to stop ... and surprised at how much information you have gathered!.
Do not stop to read any of it ... this is the gathering phase. You may enlist others to help you in this or any other phase, but keep them within the same one hour restriction.

Your gathering should include all of your past advertising and marketing materials. Include items such as letterheads, envelopes, business cards, direct-mail pieces, magazine ads, Yellow Pages ads, invoices, statements, counter cards, sales samples, packaging materials, press releases, PR stories, promo items, print outs of web pages and anything else used to market your company.

Next, add sales statistical information available about your company. Place sales reports from the past three years in the box. Look for breakout information such as sales by year, month, product line, customer and geographical area. Place any target information or sales rep information in the box. When your time is up, stop. If you happen to run across something else, drop it in the box, but don't spend any more time on this. The secret is to keep to the time limit.


Hour 2 - Information gathering about your customers and competitors

Use a second box to gather information about your customers and your competitors, but again, do so within a one-hour time frame. Put in the box copies of your customer/client lists, details about your top customers, mailing lists, etc. If you have time, talk to your best customers and ask them why they do business with you.

Competitor information can be easily gleaned from several sources (web sites, in-house material etc).
Find copies of their magazine ads. Focus on the information that is readily available.


Hour 3 - Preparation

This third block should be used to compile the documents you have gathered into meaningful information. Again, give yourself one hours of uninterrupted time and, this time, you may want to consider getting away from your office or normal place of work.
Spread out all of the contents of your first box onto a table. With a note pad handy, start by looking at the sales numbers. Take a few moments to jot down the answers to these questions, as well as others you may have:
  • Who are your biggest clients?
  • What do they buy from you?
  • What months are the most successful for you?
  • What is your best product line?
  • What are your sales trends?
Next, look at all of your marketing materials. Spread them out on the table. Think about each piece, as well as the entire collection. Obviously, you could spend a whole day critiquing your sales numbers and your marketing items. But by keeping the exercise to just one hour (remember you can build on this work later), you will better focus your attention. Here are some questions for this part of the exercise:

  • What do your marketing pieces say about you?
  • Is there a consistency to your approach?
  • To whom are you speaking?
  • Do the pieces tell the message you want told?
  • How do your message increase sales?
  • What relationship does your marketing team have with your sales team?
As you're making these notes, take one sheet of paper and designate it the "ideas page". As an idea comes into your mind ... no matter how crazy ... write it down.


Hour 4 - More Preparation

Now, put the sales numbers and the marketing materials aside.

Take the information and materials about your clients and your competitors and place them on the table. Select your three strongest competitors and your 10 best customers.

Spend a few minutes (3-4) thinking about each of them. Then ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why do your best 10 customers choose you instead of your competitors?
  • Do your competitors spend all their money with you or some with your competitors too?
  • Do you offer your customers anything unique?
  • Why are these competitors good? (if they are!)

This is the critical step in this process. An hours sounds like a long time on this, but it isn't!.
Once you have finished, put everything back in the boxes and stop (remember the time limit).

Congratulations ... you are halfway through the process.


Hour 5-6 - The Outline

Get your notes (for this part you can refer to specific items in the boxes if needed).
Unlike the other sections, you need two hours of uninterrupted time to complete this next stage. Beginning with your notes, build a brief outline of where you are. To help in the process, I've put together the following questions; most questions should have between three and five answers:

  • What were your sales in the past three years?
  • What do you want your sales to be next year?
  • Why do your best customers do business with you?
  • Who are your main competitors?
  • Why do our customers do business with someone else?
  • If you lost 2% of your average sized customers, what revenues would you lose ?
  • How many customers are you losing each year?
  • What does your current marketing materials say about you?
  • What is the single best thing you do to market your business?


Hour 5-6 - The Outline

Remember you have two hours to complete this Outline stage, if you are asking the right type of questions, and really thinking about the answers, honest, truthful answers .. you need the two-hours.


Hour 7-8 - The Plan

This is another two-hours stage.

Use your notes and the items you have in the boxes to help with this final stage. You are now going to prepare the first draft of your marketing plan.

The idea is that you now have enough information and ideas to put together your marketing plan.  Don't worry if you find you cannot complete yours as shown here, just do what you can with the information you have, use your plan as a start of your activities and go from there.

What you have done will start as a guide for your day to day marketing activities, and you should be able to answer simple questions like; what do you want to say? why do you want to say it? to whom do you want to say it? where do you say it? wow do you want to say it? etc.

If you spend the Eight hours wisely, you will have a simple plan for marketing and the beginnings of the full marketing plan.


Hour 7-8 - The Plan

Remember that this is another two-hours stage.

What you have done will start as a guide for your day to day marketing activities, and you should be able to answer simple questions like; what do you want to say? why do you want to say it? to whom do you want to say it? where do you say it? wow do you want to say it? etc.

If you spend the Eight hours wisely, you will have a simple plan for marketing and the beginnings of the full marketing plan.

Continue working on the plan on a day by day basis, NEVER let it gather dust, you really need to revise the plan at least every quarter to get the most from it, and next year, it may only take you one hour to completely revise for the new sales year!

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