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Google doesn’t create a lot of marketing plans.

The folks inside Google evaluate a new plan or strategy quickly by testing it, not by churning out a big document.

A marketing plan inside Google is four parts implementation and testing and one part planning.  Yours should be too.

Sure, this flies in the face of what pundits have told you for years: get a plan — a strategy — THEN execute.

HamiltonWallaceMarketingPlansThat’s how I was taught.   Five years ago marketing plans were a huge part of my practice (see image of a few years’ worth of Marketing Plans).  Today, not so much.

Why the change?  We’re learning.  Today, you want to answer the following question as fast and inexpensively as possible is:

“What do we need to do to grow sales?”


Okay, so, how do you do this?  In my experience (and Google agrees), TODAY the shortest, least expensive and fastest path to answering how you grow your business (the goal, by the way, of the traditional marketing plan) is to plan a little and test a lot.

What does this look like?

Give 15% of your time and energy to the plan.  What’s the goal?  Does it fit with who you are?  Who’s going to buy?  How do we get the message to them (your marketing methods or tactics)?  What’s our message?

Shake things out.  Argue.  Ask a lot of people, including your customers.  But this doesn’t mean you need a gleaming document complete with budgets and timelines.

Give 85% of your time and energy to testing.   Put your message in front of 150 of the people you think are going to buy and watch what happens.  Adjust. Repeat.

Adjust your message.  Adjust how you deliver it.  Adjust who you deliver it to.

Rinse.  Repeat


Build a web page and push 150 people through it using Google Adwords (paid search).  Or send a direct mailer.  Or place a small ad.  Or. . .there are lots of ways to test quickly and inexpensively.

No amount of research or planning replaces getting a real message in front of real prospects and gauging REAL results.  And then refining, measuring and repeating.

The biggest mistake I see as a marketing consultant: owners quit on a campaign too early (they don’t test).  They give it one or two tries and conclude there’s no market there.

Test your way to the right strategy.  Google does.  I do.

You should too.