First things first, hello and welcome to the Lascivious Marketing website. And to the first of many blog posts, featuring various utterings (or smutterings, ooh la la) that will either amuse, educate, interest and maybe even intrigue you. Perhaps all in one go!
And while this is the first blog post, it’s rather apt to spend a few minutes talking about planning.
You see, I planned to have the website completely er…completed before saying hello to the big wide, naughty world. There’s still some webpages that aren’t uploaded for your viewing pleasure, but will be. That by the way is my none-too-subtle way of impressing upon you the need to come back for more and not be just a one-visit stand.
Besides, you’ll have already formed an opinion within the first few seconds of landing on this here website whether it a) piques your interest and b) reassures you that behind the ‘shop window’ of what you see before you, there’s professionalism and competence by the bucketload.
Therefore, when there’s a few pages missing, you’ll have already decided to come back regularly to see what’s new. I salute you!
But if you’re running a small business, or heading up a marketing function in an SME, you’ll be well aware that a balance has to be found between planning and action.
Whereas the perfectionist would agonise over this, in business there’s no time for that trait. There are phrases aplenty highlighting this. ‘A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow,’ gets top marks. In short, if you’re about 80-85% of the way there, crack on. Don’t delay in taking action. Work on the remaining bits after if needbe.
Because there’s another well-used maxim, courtesy of Helmuth von Moltke, head of the Prussian army from back in the nineteenth century. “No battle plan ever survives first contact with the enemy.” Once you’re on the battlefield – or in your case, the marketplace – it’s a bit of a crap shoot, in all honesty. Yes I know: Debretts will be so aghast at my saucy vernacular.
But is that to say that plans are useless? Far from it. Sure, I realise that I’m going up against some big hitters here. Apparently Google has never had a business plan (although they do have a set of guiding principles). Are they doing badly? Hardly.
Scottish beer mavericks BrewDog aren’t fans of business plans either. While I don’t agree with all their principles or attitudes to business or marketing, it’s blindingly obvious that not having a business plan hasn’t stopped them doing fabulous things. Especially producing 5AM Saint, my favourite from the BrewDog kennel. Yum, indeed.
Now before you start derisively sticking fingers up at marketing books, or guides you’ve received from your local small business support organisation, there’s room for compromise here. Once again we head back to the military. And to a chap called Ike. Ike knew a thing or two about fighting – and winning – wars.
“In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless but planning is indispensable.”
General Dwight D Eisenhower
(Yep, Ike. And he later became US President too.)
Have you ever heard of a modern war that was fought without a plan? Exactly.
On balance, I think this is the closest to summing up the required marketing mindset for the smaller company with their eyes on the prize and a desire to go up in the world.
At its most basic, marketing planning is all about answering four key questions.
- Where are you now?
- Where do you want to be?
- How do you get there?
- And how will you know you’ve arrived?
Simple enough, but in order to get somewhere, you need to have a plan, and in order to have a plan, you need to know your current situation. Your circumstances may be markedly different from a competitor who on the surface looks quite similar. The best marketing plans also play to a company’s strengths. How do you know these strengths in the absence of a decent bit of self-examination – a marketing audit?
So, going back to Ike’s words of wisdom. In order to win, he had to know his own strengths and weaknesses – as well as his adversary’s – in order to create a plan offering the best chance of success. ‘Makes sense now, doesn’t it?
But he also was savvy enough – and you should be too – to know that unexpected things happen, whether in war or in business. New rivals, with equally new products, and/or marketing weapons can put a spanner in the works. Does that mean that a shiny marketing plan may be rendered irrelevant? Not necessarily. A lot of the work – and insight – spent creating it will still be more than valid. It might just require a bit of tweaking here and there.
So don’t you be shirking from evaluating your company and your external environment. You’d better know your strengths and weaknesses inside out. And while you’re at it, get a handle on external opportunities and threats coming your way.
(If you’re a marketing novice, I just stealthily introduced you to the not-so-humble SWOT Analysis. Sneaky, huh?)
But before I momentarily say toodle-pip until the next time, one final point.
Yes, a good plan is normally more than enough, and that a perfect plan should not come at the expense of getting in the thick of it sooner. But don’t think that ditching the perfectionism means getting away with half-assed work. If you’re an up and coming lingerie designer and seller, while your marketing plan doesn’t have to be as sharp as a razor in all the elements to get you on your way, you’d still better know how to make damn good bras. That means attention to detail in the dimensions, the stitching, etc etc. There’s no room for error or having a lackadaisical attitude towards product quality.
See the difference? Great.
And that holds true from my side as well. For instance, merely being able to ask questions does not equate to being able to design a great customer research survey (although I’m sure there are some people out there who’ll probably think so). Attention to detail and accuracy are as paramount to myself and Lascivious as they are to the hard-working lingerie designer. Trust me on this: I’m a professional.
Anyway, I digress. Thanks for reading and hopefully I’ll hear from you either on Twitter, or if you like, by emailing me, or picking up the phone to talk about your upcoming marketing project you think we might be able to assist you with.
Look out for the next post full of words (definitely) and wisdom (probably) and perhaps some good marketing advice as well.
Carpe diem, you naughty boys and girls!