Essential B2B Podcast - The 1 Page Marketing Plan with Allan Dib

For this episode of the Essential B2B podcast, Joe was joined by author of the Amazon bestseller The 1 Page Marketing Plan, Allan Dib! Allan was an absolute joy to speak to and he offers up a lot of actionable tips and tricks for marketers in this conversation! He talks about how his journey as an entrepreneur started, how the 1 Page Marketing Plan was born out of necessity and what his views are on the general state of marketing today!

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Hello and welcome to the Essential B2B podcast brought to you, as always, by Lead Forensics. I’m your host Joe Ducarreaux. In this episode of Essential B2B I’m chatting with Alan Dib, author of the 1 Page Marketing Plan. All about how his journey as an entrepreneur and author started and also for his overview on the state of marketing today.

This is a great chat and Alan was a fantastic guest. So, without further ado, please enjoy this episode of the Essential B2B Podcast with Alan Dib.

Joe: Could you just tell us a bit about your background and how you came to be an entrepreneur?

Allan: I started my entrepreneurial life as a dead-broke IT geek, so I struggled with getting clients in the door. I was good at technical stuff, but I just had no idea when it came to marketing and I really learned through trial and error. They say necessity is the mother of invention and I think that was very much my journey into marketing. So I’d struggled, like many other people, being a good technician at what I did, but that didn’t translate to being a good business owner. That’s really where I started my first business. It was a MSP-managed, IT-managed service provider and that’s where it all started. That was my playground.

Joe: So then the idea for The One Page Marketing Plan, I suppose my next question comes in two parts. What inspired you to write that book, The One Page Marketing Plan? And then following on from that, why a one page marketing plan?

Allan: Yeah, that’s a great question. The one page marketing plan was a process long before it was a book. So if we were to jump from dead broke IT geek, a few businesses down the track when I’d really learned marketing, understood it at a deep level and so I was consulting and helping a lot of other businesses with their marketing process.

One of the things I saw they really struggled with was putting together a plan around their marketing. They were doing a lot of what I call random acts of marketing. Let’s try some SEO tricks, let’s do the new social media network, let’s rebrand or do a new website or whatever. None of these things are bad, but it was, let’s just throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks and that’s not an approach that works really well.

So one of the first things I wanted them to do as their advisor, as their consultant, as their mentor, was to get them to create a plan. I got a lot of pushback, too difficult, don’t know where to start, need to hire a consultant, all of that sort of thing, so I created a process for them called the One Page Marketing Plan, unsurprisingly. Where literally in a single page on a one-page marketing plan canvas, we could put together a pretty sophisticated marketing plan in maybe 20, 30 minutes, maybe an hour tops. Really to figure out who are we selling to? Who’s our target market? What’s some of the key messages that we’re going to really attach to that target market? How are we going to reach them? How are we going to nurture them and do the sales conversion and so on. So we would be able to talk through that process in a pretty short amount of time and create a plan that was much more practical than most marketing plans. Most marketing plans are very long, take a long time to put together. No one ever looks at them after you’ve created them. I wanted a plan that you could literally pin up in your office or share with your web developer or share with your team. And more importantly, a living plan that you can update when you get better and more information.

So let’s say we figured, hey, actually this message resonates better with our audience than the message we thought. We can update the plan with that messaging and again, share it with our team, share it with our vendors, share it with our clients and whoever needs to know. So I wanted a plan that was like a living document that would actually be used within the business.

Joe: You touched on a couple of points there about saying people were often resistant and saying we need to hire a consultant, having long-winded plans that aren’t necessarily adhered to. What other mistakes do you consistently see with marketing and even sales departments?

Allan: The most common mistake is we’ve got this product, we’ve got this service, we’ve got this widget, now let’s figure out who to sell it to. And that’s, you know…

Joe: Do the telescope the wrong way, perhaps.

Allan: Exactly! I think in Silicon Valley, they call it a solution in search of a market. So we’ve got this cool tech, we’ve got this app, we’ve got this whatever. Now let’s try and figure out who wants it and it’s completely backwards. So what we want to do, we want to find that hungry market that we can reach, that’s potentially a growing market, potentially it’s got money, that we really solve a big pain problem for them.

You can do the same amount of work, but if you do it for one market, they will value it so much more and pay you so much more than another market. I recently heard Stephen Bartlett talking about this. He started out with social media management and so he was saying he’d identified pre-IPO companies as people who could really benefit from his services because a story could swing the valuation of their business by hundreds of millions, maybe even billions of dollars. So even if he took a tiny fraction of that, he could charge a fee of millions of dollars versus, let’s say you did the same social media service for a local cafe or local gym or whatever, you’d be lucky to squeeze a few hundred or a few thousand dollars a month out of that.

So different people will value a solution very differently. Really starting with your market, figuring out who are our people, who are the people that we want to serve, that we want to help fix a problem. So that’s really where we start. We start with finding our market. Marc Andreessen talks about product to market fit. So we want to find the market and figure out where they have a big pain point at the moment that we can help them fix.

Joe: So figuring out your ICP and how you can go around helping them ahead of anything else. You’re absolutely right. Just to touch on Stephen Bartlett very quickly. He’s something of a hero of mine. He did do a little video for us at Lead Forensics actually and that’s really helped us out. If you’re listening, Steve, text in.

Allan: Hey Steve!

Joe: We touched slightly there on Silicon Valley and new solutions in the search for a problem and that sort of thing. This is a question I ask absolutely everybody I can because I’m by what people think about this one. How do you think AI can be applied to marketing? What does the future of marketing look like for you with the context of AI?

Allan: I think AI, like most technologies and I’m not downplaying AI, but it’s there to augment our skills. So I think of it this way, like Iron Man. He’s a normal geeky guy like you or me. Tony Stark puts the Iron Man suit on and his skills are augmented. He can fly, he can do all sorts of stuff and it gives him amazing skills.

I think AI is pretty similar, just like the internet has given us these extra augmented skills, the way mobile technology, social technology. I think AI will do it at a much bigger scale for sure. So we’re going to see one person being able to do stuff that maybe took four or five people before to do. Really augmenting our skills.

But I don’t think, in our lifetimes at least, we’re going to see AI that’s just going to completely take over everything. I could be fully wrong and I welcome our AI overlords if it comes to that. But I think AI is never going to replace your stories. It’s never going to replace the way that your experiences, your narrative, all of those sorts of things. So I’ve been experimenting with ChatGPT like many people have and I get it to write an article or whatever. Honestly, it’s very impressive, but the output is mediocre.

Right now, I’m writing my second book and it’s quite autobiographical in a lot of ways. Even though I’m writing a marketing book, I’m talking about my experiences. I’m talking about things that happened to me. I’m talking about clients that I’ve worked with and things like that. I think it’s going to be very difficult for AI to ever completely replace that. Now, having said that, sometimes I’ll get it to summarise something and something that would have taken me maybe 30 minutes to summarise is summarised instantly, it’s still not perfect, it’s definitely a time saver and helps augment my skills.

Joe: Absolutely! I think one particular industry that I’ve heard from is the translation industry, in which effectively AI has just taken their work away from them. As you were saying, what might have taken a team of four people a certain number of days, it’s done instantly.

But just sticking to the theme of translation there, obviously The 1 Page Marketing Plan has been translated into several different languages. That got me wondering, are there any cultural differences you have to take into consideration when adapting the book or are the principles pretty much consistent?

Allan: No, there are definitely cultural considerations. Having said that, I don’t really, me and my team don’t really translate. We sell the foreign translation rights to a local publisher and they do the localization and local translation. But I have certainly had feedback. For example, the Arabic publisher approached me and he said, I know the subtitle talks about making money because the subtitle is about making more money, getting more customers, and standing out from the crowd. And he’s going, in Arabic, it’s a bit rude to say, hey, make more money or whatever, so can we change up the subtitle there? And I’m like, look, you guys know the local market, do what you need to do.

So yeah, for sure, there’s definitely different subtleties in different local markets but for the most part, I believe the publishers have done a pretty good job and I get a lot of feedback from people who’ve read some of the foreign translations.

Joe: Fantastic. I like to offer up actionable tips and tricks to our listeners on the Essential B2B and B2B Sales Playbook Podcast, which is another podcast I do. Do you have any tips for getting really good results with a limited budget? Because obviously at a lot of places budgets have been slashed in the last few months or so. Have you got any tips for us on that?

Allan: I do. The tips for a limited budget are similar to tips for a big budget. I think more and more the hacks, the tricks, the hashtag stuff and keywords, backlinks, all of that sort of stuff, I think that’s getting a lot more deprioritized by the search engines which are now faster and better. They’re powered by AI, machine learning, all of that sort of thing.

A lot of what I’m doing now with my clients is working with them on how we can make marketing part of the product? How can we make it genuinely valuable and genuinely useful to our target market, whether they buy or not? Because I think that the days of interrupting people and spamming people and all of those sorts of things, I think those days are over and it’s getting harder and you get less and less returns. Really how can we find our ideal target market and be genuinely useful and genuinely helpful to them?

Because whether you’re working with a budget of zero or a budget of millions of dollars, that’s really stuff that’s going to get traction a lot more than if we’re looking at how do we bypass the spam filter and make sure that we can get into the inbox and how do we game SEO and do weird backlink tricks and all of that sort of stuff. The people who are winning are the people who are being genuinely
helpful and useful to their target market.

Joe: I think that’s the message that consistently comes over. The more of these podcasts and more webinars I do for Lead Forensics is, the key message it’s the people buying from people element that really it’s fundamental to all the processes there.

Allan: Yeah, it’s funny, I get emails from readers every single day and some people are like, hey, I can see how your stuff would work with B2B, but does it work with B2C? And then conversely, a lot of people say, I can see how it would work with B2C, but will that stuff work with B2B? My buyer’s a little bit more sophisticated. My reply is the same to both. It’s whether we’re working with the janitor or the CEO, it’s H2H, it’s human to human. We’re all an emotional bag floating on this rock and we respond emotionally to messages, regardless of whether it’s B2B or B2C, it’s really H2H human to human. We want to make those emotional connections.

You know people feel like, Hey, if I’m selling B2B, does the emotional stuff really work? Well, a great example is back in the day, no one ever got fired for buying IBM. How many millions or maybe billions of dollars of gear did IBM sell because of that? And that’s really an emotional message. That’s, am I going to get fired? Am I going to look stupid to my boss if I don’t buy IBM and things go tits up or whatever. Those are messages that really resonate in B2B. Will I look dumb to my boss? How do I get that promotion? What’s going to make me look good to the board? or whatever else. So those are things that are emotional messages and they don’t need to be overtly said, but they can certainly be part of the subtext of the messaging.

Joe: 100%. If we can just stick with that sort of the theme of marketing evoking emotions from people. Do you have an example of a marketing campaign or an ad campaign that’s had the biggest impact on society or culture in say the last 10 years or so? And what are the emotions that it evoked that made it successful do you think?

Allan: There have been tons and in different markets there are different ones but ones that come to mind from a B2B space; the FedEx one, if it has to positively be there overnight. That feels like it’s just about utility, about getting your package there quickly. But no, it’s really about, Hey, you’ve got this last minute thing, or you’re going to look dumb or you’re going to lose that deal if you don’t get it there overnight. That’s a pretty simple example.

The classic Domino’s pizza, it’s there in 30 minutes or less where it’s free. And so there are lots of such examples. The IBM one that I mentioned, nobody ever got fired for buying IBM. So tons of messages that have really resonated very well with their audiences.

I don’t think about which one has had the biggest overall impact because our market is not everyone. I want to have the biggest impact within the market that is my people. So that’s who I really care about. Who are your people? And then how can we have the biggest positive impact on them?

Joe: I maintain that the best sort of ad campaign that FedEx ever had was the early 2000s Tom Hanks from Castaway, because the whole point of him trying to get off the island is so he can deliver the last package.

Allan: Yeah, true, that was a good one. What was the name of the football that he had?

Joe: I think you’ll find Alan, it was a volleyball and it was called Wilson.

Allan: That’s right, Wilson. I remember that.

Joe: Allan, what does success look like for you and when did you feel like you made it? Do you feel like you haven’t quite made it yet? Are you approaching it? What does success look like to you?

Allan: I never feel like I’ve made it. I live an amazing life by any measure but I think it’s an entrepreneur thing, you hit that goal and you smell the roses for five seconds and then it’s what’s next?

I know that’s probably not a healthy way to live. I think being more chilled, more in the moment, more present, enjoying the present moment is probably a more healthy way to live but I don’t know any other way. To me success feels a lot like moving towards my next biggest goal, my next biggest achievement, my next thing. But I acknowledge that’s probably unhealthy. If someone has a better answer for me then and I’m sure they do, then I am all ears but I haven’t found it yet.

Joe: Let’s stick with smelling the roses for five seconds. How do you decompress from work? Do you decompress from your work? How important is that work life balance to you?

Allan: Totally. I am far more balanced than I ever was. I remember very little in my 20’s, it was just work and pretty similar in my 30’s. Probably 3 or 4 years ago I really started to change things, I started putting things on my schedule and treating it like a client. I exercise and do weight lifting 3 times a week, I treat it like a client. I wouldn’t just not show up for a client meeting, so I treat my nutrition, I treat my exercise, I treat my sleep with the same kind of respect that I would treat a client meeting. I might schedule a client meeting if there was some big emergency, something terrible happened or whatever that really needed my urgent attention. Other than that I’m keeping those appointments. So I am a lot more balanced now than I ever have been. It still does feel like there’s a lot of downtime. I spend time exercising, I spent time to myself but like a lot of entrepreneurs, that’s a struggle

Joe: It’s definitely something I hear from entrepreneurs a lot is there is a blurring of that line. Where your typical work would be right, 5 o’clock! I’m off, I’m going to chill. 100%, I think that’s quite a common characteristic. What aspects of your industry do you love, Allan and is there anything that you would change about it?

Allan: I am writing about this in my new book, as well, but the stuff that I love is, as marketers, we get to make change in the world and tell amazing stories and affect the culture and things like that.

Things that I don’t like. Any tool, we take a knife or a hammer. We can use that tool for good or we can use it for bad purposes. I can harm someone with a knife or I can cook them a wonderful meal. Similarly, marketing is a tool and a very powerful tool. Some have used it badly and created a lot of bad reputation, bad vibes in the marketplace around marketers. Marketing is almost a dirty word in a lot of areas because of that. But also as marketers, we are storytellers. We are here to tell people a story and we can take them through from a worse place to a better place, from a worse condition to a better condition. That’s really what we want to do and that’s when marketing is done well.

Joe: Staying with the idea of reputation for a minute. What are the biggest misconceptions between the relationship between marketing and sales departments, do you think?

Allan: It’s always fascinated me that there’s this divide. The sales department says the leads are crap and the marketing department says hey you guys can’t close. Really I see them as the revenue department together, they should be really no divide and good marketing is just sales at scale. It’s really sales in a one to many scenario. Sales is usually on a one to one basis, hey Joe, I’m coming together here to help you solve a problem. Marketing is the exact same thing but it’s on a one to many scale.

Ideally, the ideal selling environment is you and I in the same room and we’re solving a problem for you. But that is hard to scale. Really the way we scale that is through advertising, through email marketing, through all of those sorts of things. But I never want to let go of the fact that what we are doing is really doing sales at scale.

Having said that, a good marketer needs to be a good sales person. Copywriting is essentially sales in print or sales on a computer screen or wherever it is. To be a good marketer you’ve got to be a good sales person to start with.

Joe: That’s a really interesting way of thinking about it actually. The difference is just scale, almost. That’s something that hopefully resonates with our listeners for sure.

This would be personal or professional, what do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

Allan: My greatest achievement? I think just really my day-to-day working with clients to help literally change their lives. I’ve got a friend who is a chiropractor and I said, what are you up to today?” He said ah, just saving lives. I think similarly, when I think about some of the conversations and some of the transformations I’ve had with entrepreneurs it’s just been literally life-changing. Where someone who was struggling either personally or professionally and I took them to a better place.

At the end of the day we are going to look back on our lives and our careers and see who did we positively impact? Who did we help, who did we take to a better place and that’s really part of what I want to do and I want to do that, firstly for myself and my family, then for my community, then for my employees and of course for my clients. Then even wide impact craters.

So we start with ourselves, start with our immediate circle and then say how can we expand that impact.

I’m privileged every single day to get really cool fan mail and messages from people who have read a book, or seen me on a podcast or seen me speak or whatever and had some kind of transformational event or transformational thought. A lot of times hearing those testimonials is really powerful.

Joe: I’d imagine it’s quite motivating when you get a little, Hi I’m doing so good.

Allan: It is, it is.

Joe: Allan, this has been an absolutely fascinating conversation and I’ve really appreciated the chance to get to know you a little bit better over the course of our chat here. If there was one top tip you would like to leave my audience with today, following our conversation, what is the one golden rule that you think they should take away from this?

Allan: The thing I would leave people with is the best marketer wins every time. Nobody knows how good your product or service is until they buy, they only know how good your marketing is. So it is incumbent on you to become a really good marketer.

So many times people complain I’ve got a better product than this guy and he is doing better than me. I’ve been there, I’ve felt that and I’ve seen it so many times. The marketplace is not a meritocracy, I wish it was. I wish firefighters and nurses got paid the most but we know they don’t. You don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.

Really as marketers what we’re out there doing is really negotiating and doing marketing that really hits with people because the best marketer wins every time. It’s not the best product, it’s the best known product. That’s really what we are out there to do.

Joe: Allan Dib, thank you so much for joining me for the Essential B2B podcast.

Allan: Joe, it was my pleasure.

Joe: Well there you go, Allan Dib on The Essential B2B podcast. Wasn’t that great. I really, really enjoyed that episode.

Thanks again to Allan for joining me for this conversation and thank you for listening. Remember to subscribe to The Essential B2B Podcast and give us a 5 star rating where possible. We’ll be back next with another excellent episode of The Essential B2B Podcast.