I should start off by letting you know that I am neither a marketing guy nor a salesman. I read books and posts on those subjects because I am, in general, interested in entrepreneurship. Marketing and sales are one of the legs on which businesses stand- another being excellent service and products, and yet another being a proper internal environment that enables and encourages employees. That said, I also have an overriding negative sense of most marketing and sales approaches – as a reluctant consumer, it is my opinion that the general negativity and materialism of the culture-at-large comes from the efforts of businesses to create shiny objects that distract people from the glory of spirituality, love, and humanity. So, I’m going to preface my comments on a good marketing strategy with a small rant.
The Rant: Your Marketing Plan Strategy Must Start With a Real Desire to Help
Just as your business needs to get away from that overriding control of employees that characterizes the old monstrous production-mill institutions, so too your business needs to start with a foundation of wanting to genuinely help people. When a business is focused on profits above all else, there’s a degree of baseness that contaminates every aspect of it. Nothing noble or uplifting is sought for, and both employees and customers start to smell a Dilbert-esque bleakness in all transactions. Ultimately, modern business is about excellent people providing solutions for other people – anything else is about separating people from their money and trying to convince them that happiness lies in material objects, self-esteem, or the like. Those kinds of approaches ultimately breed more unhappiness in the world by adding veils of delusion to the eyes of people who are convinced and buy in.
There’s an abundance of human-debasing business out there, and the media, government, and organized religions are heavily contaminated with it. It may be the norm, but it’s not the entirety – marketing and business can both be about uplifting. Paid to Exist put out an excellent article on this alternative, saying it’s a trend, that is worthwhile to read: What’s wrong with online marketing (and why we must take a stand).
Your Business: An Excellent Marketing Plan Strategy
This marketing plan strategy comes from the excellent but dated book Guerrilla Marketing for Free: Dozens of No-Cost Tactics to Promote Your Business and Energize Your Profits. That book contains a lot of very specific actionable things you can do to market your business for no cost (or very low cost, in some cases). It’s an oldie from 2003 but still quite good in a lot of ways, my favorite being this simple conception on how to make a good marketing plan for any business.
A lot of marketing consultants will tell you they can get you to your optimum plan easily and quickly by virtue of their experience. That’s completely bogus. The times change rapidly, your business niche changes rapidly, and the only people who might have a real grip on what works and what doesn’t for your business is your competitors. So the essence of the strategy is experimentation, and author Jay Conrad Levinson writes that it takes most businesses three years to get their marketing calendar completely optimized. Once they do, though, it’s a precious business asset.
Here’s how it works, pages 14-15:
- Make a large grid with 12 rows and 4 columns. In the first column, write the name of each month. Title the second column “Thrust”, the third column “Media”, and the fourth column “Grade”.
- For each month, identify the specific thrust – approach – you’ll use that month. New product? A free offering? Reselling through vendors? And so on.
- Now, for each month identify the media – avenues – you’ll use to promote that thrust. Online in social media? Newsletters? Magazines? Bulletin boards, online or offline?
- Then, as each month passes grade the results of it. How effective was the combination of the thrust and media that month?
- At the end of the year, take any approaches that got A’s or B’s and put them into the new year. Scrap the rest, and fill the blank spots with new approaches. After 3 years or so, you’ll have an excellent marketing plan to promote your business.
Using That Marketing Plan Strategy In Your Life
I visualize that approach like someone in a flexible bubble, poking the edges of the bubble with his cane to see what areas remain extended and what areas bounce back. Circling the bubble multiple times, the ultimate result is that our poor bubble-man has both a much larger bubble to live in and knows exactly how to make that bubble even larger. A strange visualization, but that bubble doesn’t have to be a business – it could be your definition of yourself.
A lot of the inspiration and self-improvement content out there – websites, books, and so forth – are all about pumping you up to make change. But it’s not easy to know exactly in what way we want to make change – do I want to have a business? Do I want to be an artist on canvas? Or music? Writing? Do I want to be a continual world traveller? Family man? Should I focus on running, hiking, weights, or yoga? What is my optimal diet – how can I feel the best I can while losing weight?
Those considerations have nothing at all to do with the inspiration (you obviously want to improve if you’re thinking such things), the belief, or the methods. Those types of questions come before inspiration – they are questions about who we really are. And nobody else can answer that for you.
The thing is, you can’t try something once and know if it’s for you. The first time you lift weights, hang out with young kids, volunteer, try to write or paint, or try to start up a business endeavor it’s most likely going to be unpleasant. When we don’t know what we’re getting into, it’s a process of discovery rather than a process of manifestation. What you need to know if the way your inner self turns and how that experience corresponds to the external reality is your bag.
So, if you want to know if you’re supposed to be a painter, give it a solid week at least. Perhaps a month. Make it your “theme.” Change your computer desktop to something in the vein of what you’re exploring. Try to do it every day (if your trial is a week) or a few times a week (if your trial is a month). Don’t judge it or give it a rating until the last time you do it in the trial – then look back and you’ll be able to see if you’re supposed to paint. No pressure, either – you stuck to your timeline and perhaps it’s not for you. You’ll never again have to wonder, either way – you’ve either discovered a new life enjoyment for yourself or dismissed a lingering question mark from your mind. And that’s a win either way.
Got a dozen lingering questions? That’s a life calendar right there, if you give everything a month.
You might also enjoy:
- What’s wrong with online marketing (and why we must take a stand) – paidtoexist.com
- 5 ways to get through writer’s block or content marketing fatigue – blog.bufferapp.com
- Marketing, frugality, and fulfillment – simpledollar.com
- How to qualify short-term goals: dreamlining – programminglife.net
- Guerrilla Marketing for Free: Dozens of No-Cost Tactics to Promote Your Business and Energize Your Profits – book on Amazon
Keep on keeping on,