The Seven Step Guerrilla Marketing Plan is a fundamental concept that makes your marketing intentional.
You decide what you want to achieve and how you will achieve it.
If you’re struggling to get to grips with your marketing ideas and concepts and finding it difficult to attract and convert customers, this seven steps or seven sentences marketing plan will make a big difference if you use it properly.
First I’ll look at why you need a marketing plan before going into this version in detail including an example of how it can be applied to a business that you probably buy from. This will let you see the logic of the marketing plan from the perspective of a customer.
Why You Need A Marketing Plan
You need a marketing plan to help you to clarify your thinking and coordinate your actions in the most important function of your business – how you attract, convert and satisfy your customers so successfully that they come back for more.
A plan helps you to gain clarity on what you want to achieve and what needs to be done to reach your objective.
There is a saying “proper preparation prevents particularly poor performance.” (That’s the polite version anyway.)
The proper preparation means putting your plan together, thinking through what you want to want to happen and the actions you need to be taking.
What You Don’t Want From A Marketing Plan
You don’t want a marketing plan that takes many hours and days to produce and is never used.
You don’t want a marketing plan that costs you a fortune but never produces any benefits.
You don’t want a 200 page marketing plan that takes many hours for anyone to read and to give you constructive feedback.
You want a marketing plan that helps you to think through the main issues, is to the point, quick to write, clear on what needs to be done and is fast for anyone else to review.
What you need is…
The Seven Step Guerrilla Marketing Plan
What Are The Seven Steps?
I will introduce the idea of the seven step of seven sentence marketing plan and then look at each sentence in more detail.
- The purpose of your marketing
- How you will achieve this purpose – your competitive advantage and the benefits of your offer.
- Your target market.
- The marketing weapons you will use.
- Your niche or position – in effect your USP.
- The identity of your business.
- Your marketing budget
The Flexibility Of The Seven Sentence Guerrilla Marketing Plan
The beauty of this type of short marketing plan is that the concept works for:
- Your entire business
- Individual products in particular markets
- Individual product campaigns within a product-market
You write to the level of detail you need to work with and the contents of the plan change subtly to meet the needs of your purpose..
You can build a hierarchy of Guerrilla Marketing Plans with each level up the hierarchy creating the boundaries or the scope of the marketing project and each level further down presenting the clear detailed guidance on how success will be achieved in a particular campaign using one or more of the two hundred guerrilla marketing weapons.
This Marketing Planning Approach Isn’t Just For Small Businesses – It Is Used By Proctor & Gamble
This is such a powerful technique that it has been adopted by many of the success Silicon Valley IT entrepreneurs that Jay Conrad Levinson taught while lecturing at the University of California.
Even more impressively, it is used by marketing giants Proctor & Gamble according to Jay in his book, The Startup Guide To Guerrilla Marketing.
The best way to understand how effective such a short, focused marketing plan can be for you is to look at an example.
I often use accountants as an example on the blog because it is a service most business owners will buy. I have this idea that the best way to understand marketing is to see it as a buyer with its strengths and weaknesses rather than a seller struggling to find your own marketing magic.
It is hard to look at and think about your own marketing but it’s much easier to think about the offers and promotions for a product or service you already buy.
Example of Applying the Seven Step Guerrilla Marketing Plan To A Firm Of Accountants
I am assuming that this is a small, local firm of accountants that works with owner-managed businesses.
I’ll explain some general theory to this seven step marketing plan and then apply it.
Planning Step 1 – The Purpose Of Your Marketing
The first sentence of the plan explains:
What specific action do you want prospective customers to take.
How specific this action is will depend on the level of the plan you are preparing. For a campaign plan, the action is very specific but for higher level plans, I tend to focus on what the business wants to achieve.
In the example the accountant may say “I want people to respond to make an appointment for a free 20 minute tax consultation.”
This becomes the focus of what we are selling in the marketing messages.
The aim is not to rush to convert the prospect into becoming a client but to give them an easy, low risk first step that highlights the benefits of working with this accountant rather than the accountant they use at the moment. After all, if the new accountant can save the business owner from paying so much tax, it suggests the existing one isn’t servicing the client as well as needed.
Marketing this way is the same logic as dating. It’s why men ask a girl out for lunch before moving on to dinner and eventually possibly leading to a marriage proposal. You can’t rush up to a woman and blurt out “Will you marry me?” The first step doesn’t feel threatening and therefore doesn’t create an instant defensive reaction of “No thanks.”
I’d also encourage you to put numbers to the intention of the plan.
Wanting ten opportunities to do this tax consultation each and every week has very different marketing implications to wanting to have a campaign to turn on during the three quietest months of the year and turn off the rest of the year.
If you get yourself clear on what you want to achieve, it will help you to decide what you need to do to make it happen.
Planning Step 2 – How You Will Achieve This Purpose?
The second sentence of the plan is:
How will you achieve this purpose? How will you persuade prospective customers to act in the way you want?
This looks at why a potential customer should respond. It explains the benefits they will receive from responding to your marketing message.
It is the basic offer from the prospect’s point of view – “If I do what you want, what’s in it for me?”
Many people are more motivated by the idea of moving away from pain than moving towards gain and pleasure. In this stage, I like to explicitly or implicitly start from the pain of the problem and then provide the solution.
In the accountant’s example, the 20 minute free consultant feels like a generous commitment from the accountant who values his time and advice highly but what small business owner has a spare twenty minutes to waste talking to an accountant who wants a new client?
The truth is that the business owners have to make time so the marketer has to give them reasons to act and to act right now.
The accountant might write:
“In the free, no-obligation tax consultation we will talk about the opportunities available for you to benefit from ten proven ideas for reducing the overall tax paid by 95% of all owner-managers and so far, has saved an average of £2,176 tax per year for our new clients”
The pain is implied here. The business owner could be paying far too much tax and that idea hurts.
You might shy away from a phrase like “new clients” but everyone knows that is the reason why the accountant is giving away the free consultations so I don’t see any harm in it. I’ve countered the fear and embarrassment a business owner may have of being pitched by making it clear that no obligation arises from accepting this first free offer.
Planning Step 3 – Your Target Market
The third sentence in the Marketing Plan tells you to define your target market or audience.
Exactly what type of prospective clients will you be targeting your marketing towards.
This is important for several reasons:
a) you probably can’t afford to target everybody and even if you can, repetition is such a powerful multiplier of marketing results that you are better off sending the same basic message ten times to one tenth of the potential market than only telling everyone about it once. Attitudes gradually change to a market message as it becomes more familiar and trusted.
b) the more specific you are about the type of customers you are targeting, the better you can align your marketing message to what these particular customers want.
c) you want to be choosy about who you allow to be clients. Author Michael Port talks about this in his red velvet rope policy. You decide who you will accept as clients rather than feeling obliged to working with everyone who offers to buy from you.
Back to the example.
The accountants may choose to target small business owners in the (alcohol) licensing trade within a twenty mile radius of the centre of Birmingham.
That is specific and it allows them to build up a specialist reputation for providing tax, accounting and financial advice to the owners of pubs, clubs and restaurants.
Specialising doesn’t mean that you can’t do other things with the same skill-set but it does make you look different and stand out from your competitors who will provide a general service to anybody.
Planning Step 4 – The Marketing Weapons To Use
The fourth sentence asks you to select your marketing tactics.
Guerrilla Marketing talks about 200 individual marketing weapons that you can use to promote your business so this is where you would choose what you will do for this promotion. I encourage my clients to look at how they are going to attract attention, get commitment, convert and follow-up.
Back to the example of the accountants
Initial contact will be made by direct mail ( a series of five consecutive letters or postcards three weeks apart)
Then there will be the incoming telephone call to arrange the consultation (or outgoing call if the business owner responded by email). There is the one to one telephone consultation itself where the business owner should discover that his current accountant is allowing him to pay too much tax.
Then there will be follow up for “probable” candidates through:
a) Letter thanking them for the opportunity to find tax savings and outlining the ten tax tips. This could include details of how to switch accountants. It may also include an invitation to give their qualifying friends the same free consultation offer.
b) A second letter two months before the end of the tax year reminding the business owner that there is still time to take the actions needed to reduce the tax bill through their existing accountant or by switching to the new firm.
c) Finally there will be an invitation to the “implications of the tax rules to business owners” teleseminar or event held after the Budget each year. This is again making the accountant question whether the service from the existing accountant is good enough.
The accountant does need not stop with the direct mail campaign to promote these free consultations.
What about printing details of the free tax consultation on the back of the business card which is given out at networking events?
What about talking to existing clients and agreeing an active referral system where the client can give their qualifying clients and friends the “free gift” of a 20 minute tax consultation that will save them on average over £2,000?
Do you start seeing how powerful Guerrilla Marketing can be when you think about it intentionally?
Planning Step 5 – Your Niche and Position
The fifth sentence in the marketing plan asks you to clarify you niche position.
What is your place in the market and how would clients describe you to others. In effect what is your main USP or what does your brand say about you?
In the example, it would be a central Birmingham based firm of chartered accountants specialising in the licensing trade and other consumer based service businesses.
Such a clear position makes the firm the obvious choice for any business owner who is working in that industry. We all have a desire to work with specialists rather than generalists because it reassures us that we’re getting the best possible advice.
Complete differentiation comes from the combination of your offer and its benefits (step 2), your target market (step 3), your positioning (step 5) and your identity (step 6).
Planning Step 6 – The Identity Of Your Business
The penultimate sentence asks you to give substance to the promise your brand makes to prospective customers and keeps with regular customers.
Some marketing talks about creating an image. This is an illusion of what you want your customers to think.
Guerrilla marketing says the idea or promoting an image is nonsense. Image is seen as a false representation of your business. A lie designed to manipulate and take advantage of customers.
You can’t market that way because the aim is to create a long term customers. Your clients will quickly realise that you’re not who you say you are.
The marketing plan asks you to specify your real identity that you will project in marketing. This identity will be consistent throughout your marketing plans.
It is the foundation stone for everything else. It is who you are and explains why you can be trusted to have the capabilities to deliver on your marketing promise.
For the accountant, the identity is…
A professional firm of tax advisors and accountants who provide a fast, responsive service committed to helping clients to minimise their tax bills legally and pro-actively.
That makes it clear that the accountant is not going to resort to any of the shady tricks which can cause big problems with the taxman. It suggests that the accountant will have issues with any client who tries illegal tax evasion techniques.
Planning Step 7 – Your Marketing Budget
The final sentence in the Seven Sentence Guerrilla Marketing Plan is concerned with money.
How much are you going to spend to attract clients?
The pot of cash for marketing isn’t unlimited so specify how much you will spend on marketing either as:
- A fixed amount
- A percentage of your sales
- A target amount per lead generated
- A target amount per client acquired
Each budget approach has its advantages.
The fixed amount marketing budget imposes budgetary discipline and encourages you to search for the biggest “bang per buck”. Knowing that you are only going to spend £10,000 on marketing, encourages you to weight up your options and decide whether the £800 for the Yellow Pages advertisement would be better spent on four sequences of letters to the 200 top prospects.
However the implicit suggestion is that you have a budget to spend and the marketing decision needed is to find the best ways to spend that money. It doesn’t challenge the view that you can achieve your objective without spending all the money or whether the budget is sufficient to achieve the plan.
The percentage of target sales budget allows your marketing expenditure to continue to grow as the business grows which means that you can have a bigger, more extensive website, more expensive looking brochures, organise an event to thank customers and so many other ways to attract new customers and strengthen the relationship with existing customers. This is the version of the budget that I have heard Jay Levinson recommend although I am not convinced this is the best way to go.
The target amount per lead generated is easy to calculate and forms a bridge between your marketing process inputs (whatever the activities are) and your results. This forces you to think about the effectiveness of your marketing media choices.
The target amount per new client is the next logical extension which also includes your ability to convert leads into clients and encourages you to focus your attention both on reducing cost per lead and increasing conversion rates.This is my preferred way because it is output focused rather than input focused. It challenges your marketing to produce what you want at the right cost.
These last two budgeting methods enforce the discipline of measuring results from your marketing.
The average cost of acquiring a client also emphasises the importance of finding ways to increase the customer lifetime value. The higher the lifetime value of profit the customer will generate, the more you can afford to spend at the start.
To return to my example for the accountant, the budget can be set at £10,000 with a target client acquisition cost of £150 excluding any allowance for the cost of time involved with the 20 minute consultation. Alternatively the accountant could set a target revenue goal of £100,000 of new annual recurring fees from the campaign and set the budget at 10%.
Conclusion – The Seven Step Guerrilla Marketing Plan
As you can see, the seven step guerrilla marketing plan is a thorough reflection of what you want to achieve with your marketing and how you are going to do it.
The beauty of it is that as you become more familiar with the technique, it is very quick to write because it doesn’t include any of the superfluous information you could include and it is quick to review because it is so short and will fit on one page.
Even better, it works because it is so focused on what you want, why customers will take action and how it all happens.
It forces you to think about what you want and how you will get it.
As a Certified Guerrilla Marketing Coach, I love coaching people through the preparation of the plan and feeling them gain control of their marketing.
The “what to do, when” element of the plan is covered in the Marketing Calendar.
To learn more about Guerrilla Marketing I recommend you read:
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