Book Review:

The 1-Page Marketing Plan by Allan Dib is definitely one of the best books about the fundamentals of small business marketing that I’ve ever read. Allan doesn’t delve much into tactics, he focuses on the strategies and most importantly the mindsets of successful marketing.

The book is divided into three parts where each part focuses on one phase. The first phase is the “beginning” phase where you identify an ideal target market, craft a compelling message for this target market and deliver your message to them through the appropriate advertising media.

The second phase is the “during” phase, and it’s where you capture interested leads in a database system, nurture them with regular value-building information and convert them into paying customers.

The third and last phase is the “after” phase. This is where you’ll turn your customers into raving fans by delivering a truly world-class experience. You’ll then find ways of doing more business with them and increasing their lifetime value. Finally, you’ll create an environment where referrals continually come your way.

I highly recommend this book even if you’re an experienced marketer or small business owner. You will learn so much. Article is produced by

Book Summary:

The following summary of The 1-Page Marketing Plan by Allan Dib is meant to be concise, reminding me of high-level concepts and not trying to recreate the whole book. This summary is basically a bunch of notes and lessons paraphrased or quoted directly from the book and does not contain my own thoughts.

• The reality is that many business owners would probably be better off just finding a job in their industry. They would likely work fewer hours, have less stress, enjoy more benefits and more holiday time than in the prison they have created for themselves.

• By far the biggest leverage point in any business is marketing. If you get 10% better at marketing, this can have an exponential or multiplying effect on the bottom line.

• Here’s the simplest, most jargon-free, definition of marketing you’re ever likely to come across:

If the circus is coming to town and you paint a sign saying “Circus Coming to the Showground Saturday,” that’s advertising.

If you put the sign on the back of an elephant and walk it into town, that’s promotion.

If the elephant walks through the mayor’s flower bed and the local newspaper writes a story about it, that’s publicity.

And if you get the mayor to laugh about it, that’s public relations.

If the town’s citizens go to the circus, you show them the many entertainment booths, explain how much fun they’ll have spending money at the booths, answer their questions and ultimately, they spend a lot at the circus, that’s sales.

And if you planned the whole thing, that’s marketing.

• Many business owners fool themselves into thinking that if their product is excellent, the market will buy. While “if you build it, they will come” makes a great movie plot, it’s a terrible business strategy. It’s a strategy that’s expensive and comes with a high rate of failure. History is littered with technically superior products that commercially failed.

• The biggest mistake made by small business owners when it comes to marketing and advertising is mimicking large, successful competitors in their industry.

• Large company marketing is also sometimes known as mass marketing or “branding.” The goal of this type of advertising is to remind customers and prospects of your brand as well as the products and services you offer. The idea is that the more times you run ads from your brand, the more likely people are to have this brand at the top of their consciousness when they go to make a purchasing decision.

• Branding is effective; however, it is very expensive to successfully pull off and takes a lot of time. It requires you to saturate various types of advertising media e.g. TV, print, radio, Internet, etc., on a very regular basis and over an extended period of time. The expense and time involved are not a problem for the major brands as they have massive advertising budgets, teams of marketing people and product lines are planned years in advance.

• Direct response marketing is a particular branch of marketing that gives small businesses cut through and a competitive edge on a small budget. It is designed to evoke an immediate response and compel prospects to take some specific action, such as opting-in to your email list, picking up the phone and calling for more information, placing an order or being directed to a web page.

• When you turn your ads into direct response ads, they become lead generating tools rather than just name recognition tools.

• The marketing process is a journey we want to guide our ideal target market through. We want to guide them from not knowing we exist right through to being a raving fan customer. Through this journey, there are three distinct phases that we guide them through. These phases are the Before, During and After phases of your marketing process.

• Before: We label people going through the before phase as prospects. At the beginning of the “before” phase, prospects typically don’t even know you exist. The successful completion of this phase results in the prospect knowing who you are and indicating interest.

• During: We label people going through the during phase as leads. At the beginning of the “during” phase, leads have indicated some interest in your offer. The successful completion of this phase results in the prospect buying from you for the first time.

• After: We label people in this phase as customers. At the beginning of the “after” phase, customers have already given you money. The after never ends; and when it’s executed correctly, it results in a virtuous cycle where the customer buys from you repeatedly and is such a fan of your products or services that they consistently recommend you and introduce you to new prospects.

ACT I. The “Before” Phase

• In the “before” phase you’re dealing with prospects. Prospects are people that may not even yet know you exist. In this phase, you’ll identify a target market, craft a compelling message for this target market and deliver your message to them through advertising media. The goal of this phase is to get your prospect to know you and respond to your message. Once they’ve indicated interest by responding, they become a lead and enter the second phase of your marketing process.

Chapter 1. Selecting Your Target Market

• Selecting your target market is a crucial first step in the marketing process. Doing so will ensure your marketing message resonates better, which in turn will make your marketing far more effective. By focusing on the right target market for your business, you’ll be able to get a better return on the time, money, and energy you invest.

• Many business owners worry about narrowing down their target market because they don’t want to exclude any potential customers. This is a typical newbie marketing mistake. Excluding customers is actually a good thing.

• Most large company advertising falls into a category called mass marketing, sometimes also referred to as “branding.” With this type of marketing, business owners are like an archer in the middle of a dense fog, shooting arrows in every direction in the hope that one or more of them will hit the intended target.

• The theory behind mass marketing is that you want to “get your name out there.” The theory is that if you broadcast your message enough times, you’ll by chance get an audience with your prospects and some percentage of them will buy from you.

• To be a successful small business marketer you need laser-like focus on a narrow target market, sometimes called a niche.

• A niche is a tightly defined portion of a subcategory. For example, think of the health and beauty category. This is a very wide category. A beauty salon can offer a wide variety of services including tanning, waxing, facials, massage, cellulite treatment and much more. If, for example, we take one of these subcategories—let’s say cellulite treatment, this could be our niche.

• You want to really limit your market because you have a limited amount of money. If you focus too broadly, your marketing message will become diluted and weak. The other critical factor is relevance. The goal of your ad is for your prospects to say, “Hey that’s for me.”

• Being all things to all people leads to marketing failure. This doesn’t mean you can’t offer a broad range of services, but understand that each category of service is a separate campaign.

• By going too broad you kill your “specialness” and become a commodity bought on price. By narrowly defining a target market that you can wow and deliver huge results for, you become a specialist.

• A great way of figuring out your ideal target market is to use the PVP index (Personal fulfillment, Value to the marketplace and Profitability) and giving each market segment you serve a rating out of 10.

• Who is your ideal target market? Be as specific as possible about all the attributes that may be relevant.

• One of the best tools for getting into the mind of your prospect is to temporarily become them by creating an avatar (a detailed exploration and description of your target customer and their lives).

Chapter 2. Crafting Your Message

• Most marketing messages are boring, timid and ineffective. To stand out from the crowd you need to craft a compelling message that grabs the attention of your target market. Once you have their attention, the goal of your message is to compel them to respond.

• Most advertising is basically name, rank, and serial number. Then they hope and pray that on the very day their ad runs, a prospect in immediate need of their product or service stumbles across it and takes action. This is called marketing by accident. A qualified prospect happening upon the right ad at the right time sometimes results in the happy accident of a sale taking place.

• It’s time to start marketing on purpose—treating advertising like a vending machine where the results and value generated are predictable, rather than like a slot machine where the results are random and the odds are stacked against you.

• To start marketing on purpose we need to look at two vital elements:

  • What Is The Purpose Of Your Ad?
  • What Does Your Ad Focus On?

• The rule of thumb is one ad, one objective. If something in the ad isn’t helping you achieve that objective then it’s detracting from it and you should get rid of it.

• Rather than trying to sell directly from your ad, simply invite prospects to put their hand up and indicate interest. This lowers resistance and helps you build a marketing database—one of the most valuable assets in your business.

• Once your objective is clear, you need to communicate it to your reader. What exactly do you want them to do next? Do they call your toll free number to order? Do they call you or visit your website to request a free sample? Do they request a free report? You need a very clear call to action—not something wimpy and vague like “don’t hesitate to call us.”

• Most advertising by small businesses is inwardly focused. Instead of speaking to the needs and problems of the prospect, it is focused on self-aggrandizement.

• Many small businesses don’t have a reason to exist. Take away their name and logo from their website or other marketing material and you’d never know who they were. They could be any of the other businesses in their category. Their reason for existence is to survive and pay the bills of the owner who is usually only just getting by or possibly not even. From a customer’s perspective, there is no compelling reason to buy from them and any sales they do make is just because they happen to be there. And this is why you need to develop a USP (Unique Selling Proposition).

• The entire goal of your USP is to answer this question: Why should I buy from you rather than from your nearest competitor? Another good test is this: if I removed the company name and logo from your website, would people still know that it’s you or could it be any other company in your industry?

• You know you’re marketing your business as a commodity when prospects start the conversation by asking you about price.

• You need to position what you do in such a way that even if your competitor was operating directly opposite you, customers would cross the road to do business with you instead of your competitor.

• You want to get into the mind of our prospect. What do they really want? It’s rarely the thing you are selling, it’s usually the result of the thing you are selling.

• Understand that your prospect has essentially three options:

  1. Buy from you
  2. Buy from your competitor
  3. Do nothing

You may think your competitors are your biggest problem, but in reality, it’s more likely to be a fight against inertia. Therefore you need to first answer the question of why they should buy and in addition to why they should buy from YOU.

• Confusion leads to lost sales. This is especially so when you have a complex product. Many business owners erroneously think that a confused customer will seek clarification or contact you for more information. Nothing could be further from the truth. When you confuse them, you lose them.

• How do you charge high prices for your products and services while having your customers thank you for it? In short, by being remarkable. When you’re remarkable, not only is the customer happy to pay the premium but in fact, rewards you by spreading the message about your product or service. This is because we all want to share things and experiences that are remarkable.

• If you don’t give your ideal target market a reason why your offer is different, they will default to price as the main criteria for making their decision.

• Putting the right stuff in front of the wrong people or the wrong stuff in front of the right people is one of the first marketing mistakes made by business owners.

• One of the easiest methods of finding out what your prospects want is simply by asking them. You can do so through a survey or through more formal market research. It should also be noted that most people don’t know what they want until they’ve actually been presented with it. Also when people are doing surveys or responding to market research, they do so with logic; however, when it comes to actual purchasing, this is done with emotions and justified with logic after the fact. So you need to supplement asking with observing.

• One of the ways I’ve done and recommend doing market research is by analyzing what your target market is actually buying or looking for.

• Now that you know what your market wants, you need to package it up and present it as an irresistible offer.

• There are many components to crafting a compelling offer. Taking the lazy, ill-thought-out road of “10% off” or similar crappy offers is akin to throwing your marketing dollars in the trash.

• Selling features and benefits is the best way to turn your prospects into price shoppers who view your product as a commodity bought solely on price. Your goal is to be a problem solver, pain reliever and turn any comparison with your competition into an apples-to-oranges comparison. Remember people are much more willing to pay for a cure than for prevention.

• Almost no other skill will reward you more richly than the ability to write compelling words. Being able to clearly articulate why a prospect should buy from you rather than your competitors in a way that creates an emotion and motivates them to action is the master skill of marketing.

• Using monotone, boring, “professional” sales copy is the fastest way of losing the interest of your customers and prospects. Meaningless clichés and claims of being the leading provider in your category make you look like a “me-too” business. “Me-too” businesses attract lowest common denominator clients who by necessity shop based on price as they have nothing else to differentiate you by.

• The five major motivators of human behavior, especially buying behavior are fear, love, greed, guilt, and pride. If your sales copy isn’t pushing at least one of these emotional hot buttons, then it’s likely too timid and ineffective.

• Headlines are one of the most important elements in your sales copy. Their job is to grab the attention of your target market and get them to start reading your body copy. The headline is basically the ad for the ad and should encompass the self-serving result your reader will get.

• Fear, especially the fear of loss is one of the most powerful emotional hot buttons you can push in your sales copy. Understanding how certain words link to certain emotions is powerful.

• An emotional hot button for one type of target audience will fall on deaf ears to another audience. Emotional direct response copywriting is no substitute for understanding EXACTLY who your target audience is and what their emotional triggers are.

Chapter 3. Reaching Prospects With Advertising Media

• Advertising media is the vehicle you’ll use to reach your target market and communicate your message. It’s typically the most expensive component of your marketing, so it needs to be selected and managed carefully to ensure you get a good return on investment (ROI).

• Not measuring where your leads and sales come from and not tracking ROI on ad spend is the mark of the amateur. We all have at our disposal the technology to quickly, easily, and cheaply track advertising effectiveness. Tools such as toll-free numbers, website analytics, and coupon codes make this trivial.

• What gets measured, gets managed. Be ruthless with your ad spend by cutting the losers and riding the winners.

• Media is by far the most expensive component of your marketing spend. It’s the bridge that connects your offer to your target market. Whether you’re using traditional media like radio, TV, and print or newer digital media like social, search engine optimization (SEO) and email marketing, you need to understand the idiosyncrasies of each.

• Hire experts that specialize in whatever media you decide is right for your campaign—they’re worth their weight in gold. Don’t try and do it yourself, especially when it comes to the most expensive part of your marketing process.

• If you’re a small or medium sized business you need to get a return on your marketing spend. Putting your comparatively tiny marketing budget into fuzzy marketing would have the same effect as a kid peeing in the ocean.

• Statistics like response rates and conversion rates are irrelevant. Our primary concern is return on investment, which varies based on the customer acquisition cost and how much actual profit a marketing campaign yields.

• One of the massive advantages of targeting a niche is that your marketing becomes much cheaper. Targeted advertising ends up being much cheaper than mass marketing because there is far less waste.

• The entire goal of your ad is for your prospect to say, “Hey that’s for me.” Being all things to all people is unlikely to have the same reaction.

• Lifetime value and customer acquisition cost are two of the key numbers you need to know to measure marketing effectiveness. The other statistics like response rates and conversion rates in themselves are useless. We just use them to determine these two figures, which give us a true picture of how our marketing is performing.

• Your “front end” offer is the offer that gets seen by prospects (people who aren’t yet your customers). These are people who don’t know you and have no reason to like you or trust you. In general, the goal of your front end offer is to create a customer and make enough profit from the first transaction to at least cover the customer acquisition cost.

• The real profit is made on the “back end” through repeat purchases by existing customers.

• Does your business have only one source of leads? One major supplier? One major customer? Rely on one type of media? Offer one type of product? To borrow a computer system term, does your business have “a single point of failure?” If so, your business is brittle and a small change in circumstances outside of your control could have a devastating effect.

ACT II. The “During” Phase

• In the “during” phase you’re dealing with leads. Leads are people that know you and have indicated interest in what you have to offer by responding to your marketing message. In this phase, you’ll capture these interested leads in a database system, nurture them with regular value-building information and convert them into paying customers. The goal of this phase is to get your leads to like you and what you have to offer enough to buy from you for the first time. Once they’ve bought from you, they become a customer and enter the third and final phase of your marketing process.

Chapter 4. Capturing Leads

• Capturing leads in a database system for future follow-up is critical to your marketing success. This is because only a very small percentage of interested leads may be ready to purchase from you immediately. Lead capture is all about properly handling interest and building your future sales pipeline.

• In direct response marketing, the purpose of your advertising is to find people who are interested in what you do, rather than trying to make an immediate sale from the ad. When you interested leads respond, you put them on your follow-up database so that you can build value for them, position yourself as an authority and create a relationship built on trust.

• The reason why some businesses get a constant flow of leads and prospects while others struggle to get any is infrastructure. Some businesses have built a marketing infrastructure which constantly brings in new leads, follows them up, nurtures and converts them into raving fan customers. Other businesses, in fact, most businesses, do what’s called “random acts of marketing.” They throw up an ad here, an ad there, perhaps a website or a brochure. They’re not building infrastructure—a system whereby a cold lead enters one end and a raving fan customer comes out of the other.

Chapter 5. Nurturing Leads

• Nurturing leads is the process of taking people from being vaguely interested in what you have to offer to desiring it and wanting to do business with you. The lead nurturing process ensures that leads are interested, motivated, qualified and predisposed to buying from you before you ever try to sell to them.

• Immediately after you’ve captured a lead, they should go into your system where repeated contacts are made over time. These are not contacts where you obnoxiously try to pester them into buying. You build a relationship, giving them value in advance of them buying anything from you and in the process, you build trust and demonstrate authority in your field of expertise.

Chapter 6. Sales Conversion

• Sales conversion is all about creating enough trust and demonstrating enough value to motivate interested leads to become paying customers. Positioning yourself correctly will make the sales conversion process easy and natural for both you and your customer.

• Unless you’re the well-known incumbent in your industry, you’re not starting the selling process in neutral territory but rather you’re starting behind in negative territory. Even though you’re an ethical operator, your prospects are cynical and don’t trust you. Unfortunately, it’s a case of guilty until proven innocent and you have to work your way from negative to positive territory and win their trust before a sale can be made.

• If you run a small business that puts you at an immediate disadvantage. A customer doing in-depth due diligence on you may come to the conclusion that you are trustworthy and provide great service, but the vast majority of customers won’t go to that effort. They will often take a cursory glance and judge you by your cover.

ACT III. The “After” Phase

• In the “after” phase you’re dealing with customers. Customers are people that like you and what you have to offer enough to have paid you money at least once. In this phase, you’ll turn your customers into raving fans by delivering a world-class experience. You’ll then find ways of doing more business with them and increasing their lifetime value. Finally, you’ll create an environment where referrals continually come your way. The goal of this final phase is to get your customers to trust you and buy more from you. This phase continues in an ongoing “virtuous cycle” where you deepen your relationship with customers, do more business with them and get more referrals.

Chapter 7. Delivering A World-Class Experience

• Most ordinary businesses stop their marketing efforts once they’ve converted a prospect into a customer (i.e., the prospect buys from them). This sort of transactional thinking keeps them stuck and puts a firm lid on their business growth. By contrast, truly remarkable businesses get exponential results because each customer they add is not just revenue once but it’s revenue over and over again because this person becomes an evangelist for your business.

• There’s often a big difference between what people want and what people need. Let’s say you’re a fitness instructor. You improve people’s lives through better health, fitness, and nutrition. The concept of better health is too vague, far off and long-term for most people. So instead you’ve got to appeal to vanity, performance or some other specific want that the prospect has—for example, ripped abs, toned body, great figure.

• A customer who buys a product or service and doesn’t use it or implement it correctly is highly likely to write it off as something that doesn’t work and that’s the last thing we want. At best it ends up being a one-off sale and at worst it ends up being labeled a scam. As ridiculous as someone calling treadmills a scam because they failed to actually use it, a consumer can do the same with your product or service.

• One area where businesses fail spectacularly is creating a sense of theatre. Your customers don’t just want to be serviced. They want to be entertained. Give them what they want by creating a sense of theatre around your product.

• As a business owner, if there’s one part of interacting with my customers that I want to be as smooth and frictionless as possible, it’s the part where I get paid.

• Part of delivering a world-class experience to your customers is becoming a voice of value to them. You need to be a thought leader in your industry. Someone who is sought out for opinion and comment. You do this by becoming a prolific creator of content.

• In an age where everyone is connected and everyone has access to almost all the available information, the most valuable commodity is reputation. The reputation economy requires that you transform your marketing from just information and high-pressure sales tactics to education-based marketing.

• The backstory to your product or service is an absolutely essential part of your marketing. Don’t let your efforts and skill go unnoticed. It gives them an assurance that there is substance and quality behind your product. This is especially important if you are pitching a premium product or service.

• The most valuable business systems are those which are replicable. If your business relies on a genius or superstar talent at the center of it, then it’s difficult or impossible to replicate.

• Customers don’t find out how good your products and services are until they have bought from you. And if your marketing and sales systems aren’t in place, they will never buy in the first place and find out how good you are.

Chapter 8. Increasing Customer Lifetime Value

• Increasing the lifetime value of existing customers is where the real money is made. To do this you need to have strategies and tactics for getting existing customers to do more business with you. You also need to know, manage and continually improve key numbers in your business.

• Getting new customers is only one of the two ways to grow your business. The other way is to make more from existing and past customers. Most businesses, especially if they’ve been around for a while, are sitting on a veritable diamond mine. Increasing revenue and more importantly profit from existing and past customers is far easier than getting new ones.

• One of the most overlooked ways of increasing the lifetime value of a customer is simply by raising prices.

• If you hold your prices constant for a long time, in real terms you’re effectively lowering them because inflation makes the same nominal amount of money less valuable over time.

• “Would you like fries with that?” is responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars to McDonald’s and a similar upsell strategy could be worth a fortune to you. Upselling is the bundling of add-ons with the primary product or service being sold.

• Some mistakenly think that when a customer has just bought, they need to be given a break before attempting to sell to them again. Nothing could be further from the truth. When the prospect is “hot and heavy” and in the buying state of mind, they’ll be much more receptive to other offers to buy.

• Ascension is the process of moving existing customers to your higher priced, and hopefully higher margin, products, and services. It’s the ISP selling you the higher speed Internet plan or the car dealer selling you the next model up.

• Increasing the frequency with which your customers buy from you is another solid strategy for increasing lifetime value.

• If you’re like most businesses you’re sitting on a gold mine in the form of a list of past customers. Past customers have trusted you enough to cross the chasm between prospect and customer. They may have stopped buying from you for any number of reasons including a poor experience, better pricing elsewhere, moving out of the local area or simply apathy because you didn’t give them a compelling reason to come back.

• A list of past customers is of tremendous value because much of the hard work involved in getting prospects to know you, like and trust you has already been done. Now you just need to run a reactivation campaign to win them back. This is great for getting some quick wins and bringing in “fast cash.”

• What gets measured gets managed. Marketing is a game where you need to constantly measure, manage and improve your numbers. You don’t need a long convoluted story. You just need the numbers because numbers tell us the whole story.

• The difference between a customer who is just a transaction and one who is a raving fan is huge, even if the nominal dollar amount of the transaction is the same. This is because not all revenue is good and not all growth is good.

• For whatever reason, there’s a percentage of the population who are never happy. They tend to fall into the categories of detractor/vampire/churner. They’re always whining, dissatisfied and feeling like everyone’s out to take advantage of them. You could shower them with gold and provide your product or service for free and they’ll find something to complain about. These people are like cancer sucking the life out of you and your business. You should cut them loose as quickly as possible.

Chapter 9. Orchestrating And Stimulating Referrals

• Orchestrating and stimulating referrals is an active process. Many businesses wish and hope for referrals but don’t have a deliberate system for making them happen. By implementing some simple tactics you can make the flow of referrals a more reliable part of your marketing process.

• Orchestrating and stimulating implies being very active to make referrals happen. Yet many business owners see referrals as something that’s out of their hands and is something that just (hopefully) happens.

• Having only a single source of new business is extremely dangerous but being unable to control that source makes it doubly so.

• People make referrals because they make them look and feel good.

• One of the best strategies for getting what you want in business and indeed in life is to just ask.

• Finding other complimentary businesses that your customer deals with before they deal with you can help you uncover untapped profits in your business. Setting up a joint venture (JV) arrangement with one or more of these businesses that are not in direct competition with you can be a cheap or free source of leads.