In this interview conducted by Alex Pirouz of RIDC Advisory, Siimon Reynolds discusses the importance of having a marketing plan within a business, the best way to structure a plan, and what it should and should not include.
Siimon Reynolds co-founded Photon Group, a start-up that his team built into a $500-million dollar company which in 8 years grew to a staff of 6000, becoming the 15th largest marketing-services company in the world, consisting of 52 companies in 14 countries.
In this Q&A interview with Alex Pirouz, Siimon Reynolds discusses why a marketing plan is crucial for any business to be successful, what elements are required when constructing one, and the number one thing missing in most marketing plans.
There are many different definitions for marketing; what does marketing mean to you?
I would say that it is about persuading someone to buy your product or service, and the key here is the emphasis on persuasion. So many people do marketing but what they are really doing is providing consumers with information and telling them what their company does. But unless they have the added aspect of persuasion, it is not likely to get a good result.
Now that seems obvious, but if you look at some of the ads you see on TV or newspapers you will see that quite often the persuasion aspect is completely missing.
Why is a marketing plan so important to have? How long should it be?
The marketing plan is crucially important, but it usually is not treated as being important by many business owners. And the truth is that a marketing plan is just a strategy for how to sell something efficiently and get customers into the sales funnel.
Marketing plan should be one page, but they can extend to two or three pages. Usually, the longer the marketing plan the less thought out it is – not always, but often. If you can force yourself to get a marketing plan on one page, then you must have really thought about it clearly in your own mind.
For someone who has never written a marketing plan, where do they start?
It’s very important that they don’t get intimidated by experts around the world, who make it look really complex. Basically a marketing plan should be really simple. It needs to include who you are talking to, how are they thinking about your product or sector, what you should say, what is your support for saying that and what marketing mediums you’re going to use.
What strategy makes more of an impact within a marketing message, logical or emotional?
This really depends on the product or service you are offering. Sometimes logical is unbeatable, so for instance let’s say you sell carpets, your headline could be: “most carpets last four years; ours last nine”. In this message, you don’t have to do anything emotional to sell; where emotion works best is when there is not much of a difference.
For instance, the current campaign for Coca Cola is all about happiness; they do that because they have nothing logical to say and to equate their drink with feeling happy. Now in saying all that, some of the best marketing is both logical and emotional.
What is the best way to structure a marketing plan?
I think that you should strip the marketing plan down to its barest essentials and then add a second document which has all the supportive material. In the supporting material could be stuff that adds colour to the whole plan but you don’t put it in a plan because it will make it too complex. A good marketing plan is all about the distillation of a lot of facts and therefore the more simple the better.
What are some of the biggest mistakes business owners make when marketing their products/services?
They try and say too much. Rather than one message, they try and say three things or two things at once which in turn creates confusion for the consumer. Generally, the simpler and more simple-minded you are, the more powerful your marketing will be.
Simon, what would you say is the number one thing you see missing in most marketing plans?
What is missing is the classic unique selling proposition. They are not saying anything that is different, they are not saying anything that is motivating, they are not saying anything that is going to break through all the clutter and part of it is because they can’t think of anything or are scared of doing something that is going to stand out because they are worried what others will think about them.
What are the biggest challenges that occur for entrepreneurs when attempting to execute a marketing plan?
One of the biggest challenges is that they do such a boring job of illustrating the marketing plan. It ticks all the boxes, it says what they want it to say, they have out it in the right medium and added everything that they thought should be in there but when ever anybody looks at it, it sends them to sleep.
When setting marketing goals and objectives, how far ahead do you recommend planning?
I think there should be a one-year plan and a three-year plan, which guide what the company stands for, but most of the emphasis should be on a three-month plan, because that is when you are going to see if the message is working or not so that you can adjust it and change it.
And of course the trick with marketing is to make sure you can measure your message to see if it is working or not so that you can alter it and communicate a message that is more effective.
How has marketing shifted in the last 5 to 7 years?
It has become vastly more complex in two fundamental ways: the Internet and the amount of time people have to respond to messages. We now have so many different ways to market our product or service than we used to have, and yet our consumers have far less time to read our marketing message.
As a result it is becoming harder and harder to stand out. The third thing that has happened as a reaction to the first two elements is that we are doing a lot more niche marketing then we used to do.
Simon, what are three lessons you have learnt about marketing and business that you can pass on to others reading this article?
- keep it simple and don’t overcomplicate things
- keep testing new things on all marketing materials
- study the best in your industry and copy them
What degree did education play in your success, did you read books, have mentors, do it all yourself?
I studied all the most successful people in the world and tried to emulate them, it’s as simple as that. Every year I look to study the best in my particular field, and in doing so I model everything about them and their approach to business.
Alex Pirouz is the founder of RIDC Advisory Pty Ltd. A Business and Sales Advisory firm partnering with Australia’s largest and fastest growing companies to further increase their revenue. Visit www.ridcadvisory.com.au for more details.