One Page Marketing Plan

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TSP 177 | One Page Marketing PlanEpisode Summary:

Small businesses need a small business strategy that works, and that really comes down to direct response marketing. Allan Dib needed to come up with a plan that was fast, effective, and followed direct response marketing principles very closely that would move the needle for his clients. From that need was born the 1-Page Marketing Plan which is a process that’s easy for clients to fill in and literally a single page divided that into nine sections. Allan is a serial entrepreneur, marketer and technology expert. He has started, grown and successfully exited multiple businesses in various industries. He walks us through how to have a marketing plan with just one page. He said, well, your path to profit isn’t getting referrals and that the marketing doesn’t stop once you get a customer.

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One Page Marketing Plan

TSP 177 | One Page Marketing Plan

The 1-Page Marketing Plan: Get New Customers, Make More Money, and Stand Out from the Crowd

Our guest is Allan Dib, who was a serial entrepreneur, a rebellious marketer, technology expert and the bestselling author of a book called The 1‑Page Marketing Plan. He started and grown multiple businesses in all kinds of industries around telecommunications and IT. One of his previous business where he faced competition from a big billion-dollar company and he was still able to grow this startup. He was later named by Business Review Weekly as one of Australia’s fastest growing companies and got on their Top Fast 100 list. He’s passionate about helping new businesses find new ways to leverage technology and he is a business coach and consultant and speaker and he is here with us. Allan, welcome to the show.

John, a pleasure to be on the show.

I love hearing people’s story of origin. If you wouldn’t mind taking us back to whatever you want, as far back as childhood, high school, college, university where you said, “There’s got to be a better way to market things and what’s going on.” How did you get interested in what you’re doing?

John, I’m not at all from a marketing background. I’ve got no education in business or training in marketing, whatsoever. It came about by necessity, as many good things do. I was a dead broke IT geek. I was good at what I did. I was running an IT business. I would always try and learn the new technology. Our clients loved what I did, they loved my service. They loved my products, they love our team and everything like that. For the life of me, I could not grow this business. It was stuck and any business that came our way was business that either came by referral or by chance or by some other similar means. It grew out of absolute frustration. That put me on a path to trying to learn marketing for the better part of a decade. Long story short, I learned all I could. I discovered direct response marketing and my life was never the same. It sounds like an overnight success story, but it’s certainly not it. It was probably a decade from start to end.

Let’s figure out if we could have the big takeaways from using The 1‑Page Marketing Plan. Usually marketing plans are known for being thousands of pages if not hundreds. There are three takeaways. You’re going to get new customers, which then you make more money. The big one that I want to jump into is how to stand out from the crowd. One of the things you talked about Allan is why getting your name out there is a losing strategy. That’s such a common thing as like, “We’re starting a company and we’re going to get our name out there and get all kinds of brand awareness and spend money on Facebook and social media. Then when we’re ready to open the floodgates, people will know who we are.” Why does that not work?

“Build it and they will come,” is a great movie plot. It’s not such a good marketing strategy. It comes about because people think that, “I can see Pepsi or Coca-Cola, Apple doing this brand awareness stuff. They’re super successful companies. That sounds like a great strategy for me.” If you’re working on property investment, there are property investors who build skyscrapers and they invest hundreds of millions of dollars in their investment. Then there are investors who buy a single small property somewhere out in the suburbs and rent it out. If the guy who’s trying to do the small investment strategy, who’s working on a small scale, if he tries to do the skyscraper strategy where he’s only got enough money to build one level of the skyscraper that’s not going to work. He needs a strategy that’s going to work on a small scale, not a strategy that works on a large scale.

TSP 177 | One Page Marketing Plan

One Page Marketing Plan: Small businesses need a small business strategy that works.

It comes about because of some of the different motivations behind marketing at a large scale and marketing in a small scale. At a small scale, the only thing that matters is can we get a profit? Can we get a client? At a large scale, large companies, they have completely different motivations. Making a profit is somewhere within there, but I would put to you that above that is things like placing the board of directors, satisfying superiors, biases, winning creative awards, things like that. Things that are completely useless for small businesses. Small businesses need a small business strategy that works and that comes down to direct response marketing.

Let’s walk people through each of your nine grids on The 1‑Page Marketing Plan.

It’s a single page. Where this came about early in my business career, I thought, “I need to hire a consultant to help me put together a business plan.” I did. I paid him thousands of dollars that I couldn’t afford at the time, but I thought, “This is important. All good businesses have a business plan and a marketing plan.” He did what most consultants do. He put together a beautiful looking plan. It was hundreds of pages. It had beautiful graphs and charts and projections and things like that. I took that plan, flick through it, put it in the top drawer of my desk and the next time that I saw it was when I was moving out of our office and we were taking all the things out of the drawers. I looked at it and throw it in the trash and thought, “What a waste of time and money that was.”

I did recall that there was one part of that process, the creating that plan that was very valuable to me. That was the part inside it called The Marketing Plan. It wasn’t the plan itself that was super valuable to me, but it was the process that me and the consultant went through to do that. Part of what we did was look at, “What’s the target market that we’re going after? What’s the message that we’re going to go to that target market? How are we going to reach them? How are we going to position ourselves? How are we going to price ourselves?” That was a super valuable process because it crystallized to me the things that we needed to do as a business and how we needed to present ourselves and how we needed to pitch out our product and our service to differentiate ourselves from some of the competitors that were in the marketplace. That was a super valuable process to me. That stuck in my mind for many years.

Then when I became a coach, one of the things that I started to do with my clients, I started to say, “Let’s do you a marketing plan.” That’s when clients would freeze up and they would procrastinate on that. It feels like something so overwhelming, such a big thing to do. It takes a lot of time, a lot of money. That’s where I needed to come up with a plan that was fast, that was effective and that followed direct response marketing principles very closely because that’s the marketing that would move the needle for my clients. Out of that, they say necessity is the mother invention and I certainly found that to be the case.

From that was born The 1‑Page Marketing Plan. I wanted a process that would be easy for my clients to fill in and literally a single page. I divided that into nine sections. The first three sections are called the before phase, the next three sections are called the during phase, and the last three sections of the after phase. What do we do before we were acquired a client, what do we do during the time that we’re trying to acquire a client, and what do we do after we try and acquire a client? Then within those three major sections, we’ve got three subsections.

You don’t have any revenue coming in and you’re trying to figure out what your prospects are. Then after you’ve got that, those three things done. Your next level is, “How do I capture these leads with my sales funnel?” Then the final one is, “Now, I’ve got a customer, how do I keep them and get referrals and all that good stuff?” I always love to give examples with content and structure because it brings this incredible tool to life.

Path to profit is in referrals. Click To Tweet

I am a Co-Founder and CMO of a startup myself and we’re using your tool. I’m a testimonial for you on this podcast. We are helping homeowners who have equity built up in their home and want some cash out, but do not want to take out a second loan and besides selling the house the only way they get access to that cash. That’s our target market. We know that there’s a huge amount of people that want this and either can’t qualify or can’t afford to have a second mortgage payment by taking some cash out to remodel or send their kid to college or whatever they want to do with it.

The message to the target market is we’ll give you the cash in exchange for owning 10% of your house and you can stay in the house as long as you want, and then when you sell the house, that’s when we get our money back based on the percent of the house that we own. Then the third part of this strategy is you talked about what kind of media are we going to use? This is where I want your expertise to come to life is we’re using Facebook ads. 

We’ve got an explainer video that explains how to do that. We’re going to be running ads to promote that, to build up an email list of people that are interested. We’re obviously doing PR as part of our marketing with the CEO being interviewed on podcasts and that type of things. That’s our strategy. Is there anything within those three buckets under your before section that you could amplify and say, “You’re good here,” not quite defined enough?

I like to get as niche as possible and it seems counter-intuitive to a lot of people, especially when you’re starting out. Maybe you’ve got a startup, you think, “I’ll cast the widest net possible because I don’t want to miss anyone.” What ends up happening is people say, “Yes, of course I can help you. I can help anyone. My product is for anyone and everyone.” That feels logical, but when you say it’s for anyone, you’re saying it’s for no one. It’s funny, you see so many ads that are a laundry list of products and services. “We do this, we do ABC. We do so on and so forth.” They’re trying to cast the widest net possible. The human brain it has so many stimuli coming at it every day, each day, every minute of the day that it has a filter.

The filter is, “Is this relevant for me?” It tries to actively filter out things that are not relevant for it. If you’re coming at people with a very general message, people’s brains are automatically going to filter that out because your brain wants to find things, “That’s relevant for me,” and then hone in on that. That’s exactly what we want to do. I’ll give the example, if you’ve got a knee problem, do you want to go see a general doctor or do you want to see a knee specialist? Let’s say I’m driving and I see a sign, knee specialist, that’s going to catch my attention. Whereas I might drive past ten signs that tell me about a general practitioner or a general doctor. We want to get hyper specific because we want our message to be so specific that when people read it they say, “That’s for me.” It commands attention.

I’ve had that experience myself where even sometimes in an email marketing. I’ll get an email and it’ll be like, “Are you in my head? This is exactly what my problem is.” I like to tell people that the riches are in the niches, which is a summary of what you said. That’s our challenge sometimes actually is we have found our ideal target market, avatar, whatever you want to call them as a middle-class family who has some teenage kids about to go to college and have been in their homes five plus years or more.

The house has gone up in value 30%, 40% where they could take out $50,000 $100,000 and still have quite a bit of equity left. They don’t want to pay interest rates or have a second mortgage on top of their current mortgage to get that money out. The other target market we could help are senior citizens who have paid their house off, but need some cash but don’t want to reverse mortgage. I said from a marketing standpoint, “Let’s pick one niche and focus on them and not try to have multiple messages going out.” Do you agree with that strategy?

I agree with that. The other thing that you can do is when you do have two obvious markets is have a one-page marketing plan for each. Treat them as completely different segments because the people who are retired who have paid off their house have different worries, they have different things keeping them up at 3:00 AM than the young family who have got a little bit of equity. We want to speak to them very differently.

The big takeaway everybody is have a one-page marketing plan for each of your niche markets. That is gold right there. Let’s go to the second stage, which is, “We’ve focused on people. We’ve got people clicking on our ad. They’re opting in for more information.” You’ve got these great things of what is your lead gen capture system, how do you nurture it, and then how do you convert that to sales? Do you have any examples of how you’ve done that either for your own business or one of your clients?

It comes down very much to who your target market is. In your example, for the older people, I would say things like Snapchat and Instagram may not be the best choice. You’ve got to be thinking about the target market, but when it comes to messaging, you want to hit some of the emotional triggers that people have. Some of the major ones that are universal, things like fear, love, greed, guilt, pride. We want to touch people emotionally in our marketing message. What a lot of people do is they list features and benefits, “This is going to be a low interest rate and this and that.” People think that they make decisions intellectually, but that’s absolutely untrue. People make decisions emotionally.

TSP 177 | One Page Marketing Plan

One Page Marketing Plan: The path to profit is in the after-phase, in the repeat and the referrals.

Those are five emotions that your marketing should encompass, fear, love, greed, guilt and pride. Let’s give our audience an example because that’s going to bring it to life. Sometimes, the fear is, “I won’t be able to send my kid to college or if I take out a second loan, I’m afraid that I might lose my house because that’s too much debt.” Then the love is, “I love my kids so much, I want them to get a good education. I’ve got to figure out a way to do this.”

The greed would be, “This is my money and I’m angry that the bank is so greedy and won’t give it to me without charging me a high interest rate. That’s greedy on their part.” The pride would be, “This is part of a movement that I’m proud to be part of that’s helping people get access to their money that they’ve earned without having to pay a fortune to get it.” Then the guilt is, “If I don’t share this information with my friends who I know are in the same situation, I’m going to feel guilty about it.” Is that helping bring those emotions to life within that scenario?

We want to hit on the things that are keeping your prospects up at 3 AM. What are they sitting there wide-eyed in the middle of the night concerned about, thinking about? What are the thoughts that are racing in their mind when they can’t sleep? We want to hit on some of those emotions because as one of the great copywriters said, “We want to enter the mind of the prospect.”

We’ve got these happy customers and you talked about delivering a world-class experience and how you increase their lifetime value and that was fascinating to me. Finally, how do we get referrals? Let’s take each one of those buckets separately, if we could. A world-class experience, even if you’re not selling something hugely expensive, the example I think of is Banana Republic. They wanted to give a world-class experience to people who come to their big flagship stores by offering them the ability to charge their phones while they shop or remembering their birthdays to their top 20% of their clients. Usually somebody like a Neiman Marcus would do that, but they said, “We could do that for not all of our clients, but the top 20%.” Is that what you’re talking about with world-class experiences, even if it’s not a world class price?

Price has very little to do with it. So many people finish their marketing when they’ve acquired the customer. It’s crazy because all of the money is made in the after phase, after you’ve acquired the customer. Very often, to acquire a customer, your cost of customer acquisition will often not even be covered by your first transaction. It depends on what business you’re in, of course. The path to profit is in the after phase, in the repeat, in the referrals, in all of that phase. What you want to be doing is building a tribe of raving fans.

You don’t want to be transactional. You don’t want to be, “Here’s your product and here’s my money and end of story.” That’s where a lot of businesses and their relationship with their clients. Delivering a world-class experience is all about creating a tribe of raving fans. You want people to become fans and people become fans when you’re easy and fun to deal with. When you create relationships for life, when you create a sense of theater in your products and services. If we think of some of the companies that do that like Apple, you walk into the Apple store, it’s an experience. It’s not just a store.

Build a tribe of raving fans. Click To Tweet

It’s interesting because Microsoft has tried to copy that and it feels so sterile and not hip and cool like Apple. It’s a fascinating. It’s like, “You’ve got computers along a wall, but where’s the architecture? Where’s the design of the space to match the design of the product? It’s not even close.” It’s fascinating how that sense of theatrical experience you were talking about is not always easy to even duplicate even if you have money.

It comes down to the DNA of the business and making sure that your marketing is something that’s part of your product. I see this a lot. People will say, “I’ve got XYZ product or this widget. How do I add marketing to it?” At that point it’s pretty much too late. You want to be a thinking about marketing and delivering the world-class experience during the product development phase. You want to say, “This is how we want to end up with a tribe of raving fans rather than clients. How do we do that?” If Apple had already put the store together and then at the end thought, “How are we going to market this thing?” That’s way too late. We want to be delivering a world-class experience and we wanted to have that baked into the DNA of our product and service.

Do you have any tips on how to stimulate referrals? Whether you’re a real estate agent or a company that you know is going to help people get cash out of their home without taking on more debt? How do you encourage those people to refer to their friends? Do you have incentives? What do you think?

A lot of people feel like asking for referrals is like asking for a favor. We feel weird about asking for a favor or we feel like we’re begging for more business or things like that. Certainly, if you’re positioning yourself like that, then that’s going to be a major problem for you. The reason I tackled the last chapter in my book orchestrating and stimulating referrals because it implies something active. It’s not sit and wait for referrals. It’s not beg for referrals or hope that they come to you. We want to plan out how a referral is going to happen in our business. There are a few ways.

First of all, when you’re delivering your product or service you might say, “John, I’m here to deliver you a fantastic experience and part of our business is making sure that referrals are coming our way. I’m going to deliver you a super experienced, but at the end, I’m expecting that you might refer to me to a few friends or relatives or, or whatever.” Making that expectation made upfront and with that expectation upfront, you’ll probably going to be working harder to deliver that world-class experience to the client.

That’s one thing, asking for it. The second thing is, if you think about the last time that you referred one of your friends or family to a movie or to a restaurant that you liked or something like that, were you doing that as a favor to the movie chain or were you doing that as a favor to the restaurant? I highly doubt that. You were doing that because you want to look good. You had a great experience at that movie or that restaurant and you wanted your friend or family to have that same great experience.

Understanding that people are doing referrals for selfish reasons. You want to feed that. You want them to look good and you want their ego to be puffed up or fed. You do that by helping them to understand that they’re going to look good by referring you. There are a few ways you can do that and you don’t have to put a lot of pressure on people. You don’t have to be pushy or anything like that, but giving something of value that they can pass on. An example of that might be a book, it might be a report.

In your case, it could be a free report that tells them how to get cash out of their house without taking out a mortgage. If suddenly hear of a friend who’s saying, “I’m needing cash but I’m struggling to get a home loan or I don’t want to get a home loan because I don’t want to be in more debt.” Then suddenly that’s going to pick up in my mind, ” Hang on. John’s got a report that says how to pull cash out of your home without taking a home loan out.” If I give that to my friend, I’m now helping my friend and I’m looking good.

TSP 177 | One Page Marketing Plan

One Page Marketing Plan: The person with the best pitch, the person who’s the best marketer are the ones who always win.

In case, we’ve created a two-minute video which sometimes people even prefer better than reading a report. It’s like, “Two minutes and it’s a video and it’s animated, I’m in. I can send that link.”

Understanding the psychology behind referrals goes a long way for you to being able to start stimulating and orchestrating those situations that will result in a referral.

Was there any one big mistake that you see people making when they’re doing this one-page? Do you see people getting stuck in either of these quadrants?

Probably the biggest place people get stuck is selecting their target market. A lot of people say, “I’ve got this target market and I’ve got that one and I’ve got that one,” and that’s totally fine. If you’ve got a business that’s got quite a bit of traction and you’re maybe mid-phase in business, that’s totally fine. In that case I would say, “That’s fine. Do a one-page marketing plan for each of those segments, and then deploy campaigns to each of those.” However, when you’re starting out, if you spread yourself too thin, it’s hard enough if you’ve got a single target market, but if you’ve got two or three or four, you’re going to spread yourself too thin. What I say is concentrate on the target market that’s going to give you the most bang for buck and dominate that ad then let’s add another segment and then let’s add the second one, let’s add the third one. First, dominate that target market.

The book again is called The 1‑Page Marketing Plan. We’ve got some great tweets here and takeaways. The path to profit is in the referrals. If you can build a tribe of raving fans by being easy and fun to deal with, some great insights. I can’t thank you enough, Allan, for being on the show. Is there one final thought you want to leave us with?

The last final thought I’d leave you with is become a good marketer. The reason I say that because the best marketer always wins. Many times people think, “I’ve got a great product or I’ve got a great service, so naturally I’m going to make all the sales.” It’s the person with the best pitch, the person who’s the best marketer, they’re the ones who always win. Resolve to be a great marketer in your niche, in your industry rather than being a great technician or delivering the technical thing that you do. The best marketer always wins, so become the best marketer in your industry.

Riches are in the niches Click To Tweet

You can even see that sometimes in the entertainment business, “Why is that particular singer more popular than somebody else who’s got a better voice?” They reinvent themselves or they are in the press more or whatever it is. They market themselves better, especially when it comes to technology, you can build the best thing in the world, if nobody knows about it or has an emotional connection to it, Beta versus VHS is always we go back to. How can people follow you on social media, Allan?

I’m on Facebook, @Successwise, and also at my website, If they want to continue the conversation, just join my mailing list there. You can also get a copy of my book.

Where do you live? Are you in Australia still?

I’m in Melbourne, Australia.

Thanks again, Allan, for being on the show.

It’s a pleasure, John.


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