The Ultimate Marketing Plan, Second Edition
Dan S. Kennedy
Avon, Massachusetts: Adams Media Corporation ©2000
What value can you find in a marketing book with a years-ago copyright date — even if it is a second edition? Well, quite a bit, actually. Especially because this one comes from a 'king' of direct marketing, Dan Kennedy. [A "third edition" has since been published.] To quote the book-cover blurb, Kennedy... "has been writing sales letters for over twenty years for both large and small businesses. He also develops television 'infomercials' and speaks regularly to a wide variety of business groups on marketing issues."
Yes, we have people like Kennedy to thank for such public displays as Suzanne Sommers and the Thigh-Master — or whatever. But whether or not you watch those odd-time-filler video epics, if you have a business, are part of the marketing wing of a business, or just have a product, service, or idea you want others to know about, taking a page from Kennedy's book(s) can get you started on an excellent path and give you a leg up on the competition.
So do you really need another marketing book? After all, marketing is not rocket science, right? Perhaps we'd have less need for such books if we actually took their advice and got to work putting the processes, steps, and suggestions into practice. Kennedy knows that most people who read his book won't do the necessary work of engaging their brains, putting pen to paper, developing the ideas, and executing the plan, but he makes it as easy as possible to get started.
Kennedy's approach is no-nonsense, cut-to-the-chase, practical, and fun to read. Although he's made hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of dollars as a marketing consultant, his book takes a do-it-yourself approach designed for anyone, with or without big bucks to spend on advertising. And he cautions against hiring consultants or turning your marketing effort over to someone from outside your business until you've done enough of it yourself to know where or when you need assistance — and can spot a rip-off if you see one coming at you.
After stating his definition of marketing — "getting the right message to the right people via the right media and methods" — Kennedy starts with the basics of identifying the Unique Selling Proposition (USP) for your business. This is both easier and harder than you might suspect. And it's the absolutely critical beginning point for every subsequent effort you make to let people know what you're about. Skip the USP and you're just throwing your money for marketing and advertising (not the same things) out the window.
Kennedy also cautions against thinking you've found your USP after the first bout of brainstorming, quoting a "dean of public speaking," Cavett Robert, who advises: "Don't be in too much of a hurry to promote, until you get good. Otherwise you just speed up the rate at which the world finds out you're no good." Wise folks make sure they have something worth promoting before they light the fireworks and show off the store. Seems like a no-brainer, but it can be hard to resist the pressures on a new or even established business to Ready... Fire... Aim... and get going now!
Kennedy's ultimate marketing plan contains a lucky thirteen steps, including methods for making successful sales presentations, selecting the right audience, supporting the case you've made for your product/service/idea/business, appreciating customers and the value of referrals, and several possible strategies for no- or low-cost marketing and word-of-mouth publicity. Some of these are slightly out of date, given the recent changes in laws affecting telemarketing and privacy protection. Useful nuggets remain, although Jay Conrad Levinson's Guerrilla Marketing book series sets the gold standard for useful information about marketing-on-a-shoestring. Nevertheless, Dan Kennedy has carved out his own effective approach to getting organized about marketing.
In addition to Kennedy's to-the-point 13-step plan, seventeen secret weapons, five sins, and generous amounts of information in each chapter, the end of the book contains a set of "think-sheets" that summarize each chapter's content and give you a chance to create a marketing plan for your own business or idea. As a blueprint, an example plan is shown in a second set of think-sheets. These alone may be worth the price of admission.