Building a Marketing Plan To Generate Demand

Jan 4, 2021

Random acts of marketing™ are your best-case scenario if you cannot think and plan for the long-term.

Marketing is bringing your brand story to the world in a meaningful, consistent, and valuable manner. You accomplish this offline and online with compelling, engaging, and valuable content. It would help if you also had a story arc that spans many months and years. We (people) are attracted to a story. We want to connect with a person (your brand and people), and we want to go on a journey with them. We want to be scared, sad, happy, angry, etc. We are emotional beings and make decisions based on information and emotion. You must have a good story to tell if you want to attract your audience to listen and follow your brand’s story.

What if Seinfeld ended after 3 shows?

You have to tell your story over the long-term with consistency. Authoring and posting something every once in a while is like dropping a pebble into the ocean and expecting a huge wave. It is tempting but misguided.

Imagine if the Seinfeld TV show only had three episodes and ended. No one would have had the time to connect with the characters, become accustomed to the comedy style, and the character’s quirks and relationships wouldn’t have had enough time to develop. The same goes for you broadcasting your brand’s story to the world. You have to commit to letting it grow and resonate over time.

Those Random Acts of Marketing™ keep popping up!

We tend to think, plan, and execute in the near-term. This is a common problem; we tend to get stuck in the rut of just performing random acts of marketing. I believe this happens because it makes us think, “Hey, at least we are doing something.” Also, it is tough to build out a plan over a 2,3, or even 5-year span. We’ll tell ourselves, “we don’t know where the market will be” or “I am not sure where our company will be.” These are plausible thoughts, but I say they are cop-outs due to a fear of committing to a long-term idea or plan. Or it is simply because your team and you don’t know where to start and the process to get to an end. I have a solution that gives a framework, allows for longer-term thinking, and hopefully brings solace to those fearing commitment. The idea is simple but very powerful and uses our friend, science.

The Marketing Rainbow Methodology

A rainbow is made up of various bands of color; Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet. [In school, we used ROYGBIV to remember]. Also, a rainbow follows forms in an arch.

If you imagine a simple rainbow with a three-year timeline beneath it starting at time zero and then arching up and back down on year 3.

Each color would represent a go-to-market plan. You would then layer them on each other until you have a full rainbow. Each plan should flow up to your business’s objective(s). An example could be for the red outermost color band focusing on marketing into a list of named accounts. The orange band could consistently show customers of your competitor why your solution is a better fit and more valuable. Again, what you choose as the campaign theme should be apart of your brand’s overarching story and be aligned with the business’s objectives.

You need to have three things — Having 7 is too many.

Now that you have identified campaign themes for all of the rainbow colors, it is now time to consider the tactic mix to be executed over the 3 year period. This will be tough at first but will become easier after you start. You only need three things to start this; 1. go-to-market messaging, 2. audience details (aka personas), and 3. creative thinkers. Combine those and start to build out a list of tactics that blend into and out of each other. Ensure that you’re thinking of concurrent initiatives to best communicate with the audience where they are in THEIR journey and over channels that suit them. Repeat this for all of your campaign themes. It would be best if you ended up with a colorful stacked rainbow. Rule of thumb: Most organizations should not exceed the 7 colors of the rainbow. This helps keep you focused and also ensures that you are not watering down your budget. We will talk about this next.

I am going to yell about resource planning, sorry.

With your wonderful 3 year rainbow in hand with all the wonderful tactics involved in each of the bands (yes, sometimes there will be a cross over!), now you must sanity check this against your resources. Your resources will include your in-house skills, your teams’ bandwidth, and money (budget). If you have limited resources across the board, all is NOT lost. It just means that you have to remove some bands of the rainbow. This is an important point. You have to decide which bands are the most important and start to remove the least important. I will not say this is easy, but it will surely encourage a healthy discussion among your executives and departments, but it is necessary. YOU WILL NOT BE SUCCESSFUL IF YOU DO NOT HAVE ENOUGH RESOURCES FOR EACH INDIVIDUAL COLOR BAND. Yes, the caps are me yelling. As I am typing this, thinking of you reading this, I can sense you disagree and think we can do them all with the limited resources I have at my disposal. This is where the arch of the rainbow comes in.

It’s all uphill until you reach the top.

The arch of the rainbow is key for me because it follows a story arc. It has a starting point. It comes to an apex and then resolves. What the arch also resembles a hill. To push a rock up a hill, you have to expend a lot of energy. Once you reach the apex it is downhill from there. So the energy required will be labor hours of your teams and/or money. If you don’t have enough, the rock will roll back to its starting point. Thus my yelling above. Suppose you try to spread your resource across all 7 color bands as hills with a rock at the bottom of each. And you take your limited resource and split them up across all 7 rocks; you will not have enough energy to move them. After going one foot, they will all come back to rest at the starting point. But if you took the same energy and pushed on 1, 2, or 3 of the rocks, you would have enough to get up and over the hill.

If you follow this method, you will find that it will free up your thinking and enable you to have a long-term plan against which to execute. And you will have confidence that there is adequate funding, controls, and alignment to your business’s objectives. So, go forth and be fruitful. Get in a room, turn off the lights, find a flashlight and a prism, and get your company pumped about rainbows!