Plan in a can: a marketing plan that writes itself – EZ-Write Marketing Plan Writer – Technology Edge
PETER KERR IS AN ENTREpreneur at heart. He prefers to do everything himself, and that’s why he’s using EZ-Write Marketing Plan Writer.
“Why should I hire a marketing department when I’ve got this?” the founder of Go Graphics Inc., a printing and packaging business, asks rhetorically.
EZ-Write (available for Mac and PC) from Mighty Information Company Inc. is a fill-in-the-blanks-type program that enables even the complete novice to create a personalized, professional marketing plan. Like a human marketing expert, EZ-Write can help you launch new products or services, open new markets, prove feasibility, attract investors, and apply for a loan.
Large corporations with marketing staffs usually don’t need a program like EZ-Write, although American Express, Sears, Walt Disney Co., and Xerox have purchased it. But for an entrepreneur, a $100 one-time investment that can write his marketing plans forever is a pretty good alternative to spending $100 an hour for an outside expert.
To Kerr, however, using EZ-Write is more a matter of being self-sufficient than a matter of cash. When the bank shut down his business in 1978, he received 17 job offers but refused to work for anybody else. So, he started Go Graphics. Specializing in compact disk covers and other entertainment industry printing, the company now has sales of $10 million and offices in Montreal, New York, and Los Angeles.
EZ-Write is divided into five sections:
1) An executive overview, specifying the basic background and goals of your company.
2) A market analysis, focusing on your distribution, segmentation, target market, competition, strengths, weaknesses, risks, and opportunities.
3) A marketing strategy, consisting of time frames for break-even and profitability, investment, selling tactics, and budgeting guidelines.
4) Communications strategy, including advertising, promotion, direct mail, telemarketing, publicity, and trade shows.
5) Action plan, where tasks and responsibilities are assigned, suppliers identified, and a critical path set up for implementing your campaign.
EZ-Write is essentially prewritten text in a multiple-choice format; it just requires you to answer the questions posed.
“It puts all your thoughts in the right chronological order, gets you focused on where you’re going, and puts everything in the right perspective,” Kerr says.
In the section on demographics, for instance, the program has you identify your target market. It forces you to think through your product: who might buy it, how you can reach those people, and even provides tips throughout the text.
After you’ve gone through the text and deleted all the nonessentials, what’s left is your marketing plan. The half-dozen plans Kerr has written with EZ-Write each took about 10 hours to do and runs about 20 pages.
“What I wanted was some way to present it formally,” Kerr says. “For an untrained person such as myself, EZ-Write works exceptionally well.”
When his son got married a year ago, Kerr gave him an unusual present: a marketing plan. Jamie Kerr had been managing a shoe company but went into business for himself after his dad whipped up an unbeatable plan to market “hangtags” — the small tags used to display lightweight products in stores. As Jamie and his wife approach their first anniversary, the company is already in the black.
“Like me,” Kerr says of his son, “he’s an entrepreneur at heart.”
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