* YearOfDisruption.com: Disruption Examples From Old Business Plans

Just for fun, I looked up some of the disruptive ideas from various business or marketing plans that I’ve had the pleasure – or displeasure – of writing.

By Erik J. Heels

First published 9/13/2016; YearOfDisruption.com; publisher: GiantPeople.

The Discipline of Market Leaders

Here are some examples:

From the 1996-09-19 marketing plan for Inherent.com:

Keys to Success

The main key to success is getting the message out about how our products and services stand out. The book “The Discipline of Market Leaders,” by Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersema, teaches that companies cannot be leaders in all three of price, product, and service. Pick two. The cover of the book sums it up: Choose your customers, narrow your market, dominate your market….

We must always remember to sell the company, not the product. They have to understand they are taking on a relationship with Inherent, not just buying Web Sites. Web Sites they can get cheaper elsewhere.

From the 1997-12-19 marketing plan for Verio Northeast:

When I first heard Verio’s plan for building a national Internet service provider (ISP) by combining the best of the regional business-oriented ISPs together into one company, I thought, “Wow, what a great idea!” Verio corporate brings a national network, customer support, marketing know-how, and money to the table. The affiliates bring years of experience, an installed customer base, and fresh ideas for growing the business.

The challenge for marketing in 1998 will be to, among other things, achieve economies of scale at a regional level, market standardized product and service offerings, and leverage the strengths of each ISP for the benefit of the region. At many levels, we are already beginning to see economies of scale…..

I view the opportunity to work for Verio in 1998 like the opportunity to work for Apple in 1985, for Microsoft in 1987, or for UUNet in 1990. It’s the right time – and the right place. And we must communicate this both internally and to our customers.

From the 2001-08-13 marketing plan for my law firm:

[This marketing plan] has been designed to be simple, specific, realistic, and complete. Even if it is all of these things, a good plan needs someone to follow up on it. Marketing is a process, not an event. I am committed to following up on this plan. I am committed to the discipline of marketing planning. And one of the products of marketing planning is a document like this one. However, in business, we need to plan, and we need to quickly adapt to changing circumstances. As GE’s Jack Welch said, we must “change before we have to.” Like a jazz band, we need direction and rhythm, we need to know and practice the fundamentals, but we also need to occasionally improvise. My goal, therefore, for this marketing plan is to get everybody playing from the same sheet of music. I am looking forward to a very exciting – and profitable – year.

Less than one month after writing that plan, and on my launch day, a Very Bad Thing happened:

* September 11 attacks (2001-09-11)

So we can’t plan for everything. Let’s just say it was a good thing I had plants:

* How To Build A Startup: One Board At A Time, Be Yourself, Get Plants (2016-06-15)

I should probably clarify my earlier “displeasure” comment.

I’m a big fan of writing business plans. Not because a business needs a business plan, but because business owners need to learn how to do business planning. The same is true for marketing plans. It’s not the plans that are important, it’s the planning. As entrepreneurs start startups, most of which will fail, they need to get into the habit of planning. Planning is the lather/rinse/repeat habit that helps entrepreneurs learn from their failures and try again.

There is, however, such a thing as over-planning. One of the most useless exercises I was forced to participate in at one startup was the “one-page plan.” The SVP of Marketing wrote a high-level plan that fit on one page. Then all of his direct reports (the VPs) had to write slightly more detailed one-page plans. Then all of the directors, mangers, and so on. At the end of this exercise, we had about 100 one-page plans, all slight variations of the original. The lower down you were on the org chart, the more detailed your one-page plan. So really it was a 100-page plan (which nobody read). I guess this whole one-page plan process had a point, but I’m not quite sure what it was.

VIDEO: “Have a point” scene from the movie “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles”

Planning is kind of like being a pet owner. One cat is good, two cats is OK, three is borderline, more than three and you’re Crazy Cat Herder!

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