Three ways to making marketing really work (Part 1)
A dairy company decided to run an exciting promotion that they hoped would increase sales dramatically. Inside some of their small milk cartons they placed a device that made a MOO sound when the carton was opened. If the consumer had that carton, they would be a winner. The promotion was going along just fine until one of the cartons was opened on an airplane and the “lucky winner” looked inside and saw wires. Panic ensued and the plane was forced to make an emergency landing. The dairy company was held responsible for all the costs associated with the emergency and had to pull the promotion from the market immediately. What started as a great idea, ended up in disaster for the company.
So, what went wrong?
Quite simply, the company designed the promotion without taking into consideration a number of external factors that, if well thought out ahead of time, would have helped them prevent this disaster from happening. For example, if they would have considered exactly where their small cartons were being distributed, they would have realized that placing that kind of promotion in the hands of airline passengers may have some quite logical and terrifying consequences.
In this example, the company was guilty of simply adopting a tactical marketing approach and did not look at the strategic implications like they should have. A strategic marketing approach would have prevented this disaster from happening.
In this article I will show you how marketing is a strategic task, and should not be driven by tactics and tools. I will show you how, if you do marketing at a tactical level, you could be wasting money (and potentially losing money like the dairy company mentioned above) and being less effective. People often say “marketing is expensive”. I agree with that assertion if that marketing is not well thought out and planned ahead of time. Often a great idea is just that – a great idea – but when the rubber hits the road and reality sets in, that great idea needs to have more than just creativity. It needs a dose of honest reality as well and that comes from looking at the potential pitfalls through strategic eyes.
What you should be looking for – maximizing your opportunities
Marketing is all about choices, and making the right choices give you the ability to maximize opportunities. It is all too simple to pick a marketing tactic in isolation and to implement it without weighing up the options of “what else can we do?”
Small and midsize companies are particularly guilty of this because they often do not have the time or resources to evaluate all the potential choices that are available. They simply go to the tried and tested “oldies” – brochures, business cards, website etc – and feel that as long as they’ve spent their money on these marketing tools, then they are OK. What they fail to understand is that they are placing themselves in the most dangerous place in the mind of their potential customers: “ME TOO-ville”. They will look and feel like everyone else and that makes them vulnerable.
So how do you break out from “ME TOO-ville”. Well it’s quite simple: change your way of thinking. Start looking for the opportunities that are not being satisfied, rather than being a copycat.
What marketing is not – the tactics and the tools
At home I have a toolbox. It is filled with all the latest gadgets, widgets, devices that enable me to fix things around the house. So, my toolbox is overflowing with all the best tools in the business – then why is my house in such a state of disrepair? It’s actually quite simple; just because I have the tools does not make me a handyman. And if I was handy, would I really be able to fix those electrical and plumbing problems that require a little more knowledge, all because I have a full toolbox. Absolutely NOT.
So what’s the key to this problem? It’s knowing, AHEAD OF TIME, what you can and cannot do. Don’t buy the tool and keep it in the toolbox if you have no real need for it, OR if someone else should be using it because they have the right knowledge and experience. In actual fact, having THAT tool is a waste of money and could in fact be very dangerous in the wrong hands.
What are the tools of marketing that we have in our marketing toolbox? Well there are tons of them (to name just a few: business cards, brochures, flyers, adverting, social media, a website, a trade show etc), and like most tools in a toolbox, only a few get used. The others go to waste and it is those others that are often the most important and impactful. So how do we work that out?
Decide before you buy (or use) the tool, whether it’s appropriate to have. And that is called PLANNING.
Recently a very clever quote caught my eye: “If you don’t have a plan for yourself, you’ll be a part of someone else’s”. I realized that it was absolutely true and totally inevitable. Destiny of any kind is in your hands if you make it your plan. If it is not part of a plan, then that destiny is in someone else’s hands. Would you really be satisfied with that? If not, then get planning.
People often struggle with the definition of marketing, and I recently came across one of the simplest definitions that not only puts marketing in perspective, but does the same for selling.
Marketing is the thinking part of selling – deciding what products to sell at what price, with what channels of distribution and how to promote them. It is a planning, positioning function.
Selling (and communicating) is a producing, doing function. It involves carrying out the plans and providing information on how well the plans work or do not work in the marketplace; this in turn could require that a new marketing (strategic) decision be made.
With marketing clearly being a strategic function, planning is obviously a key component.
So there it is – the link between marketing /planning /and strategy. And the link between the planning (marketing) and the doing (sales and communication). It’s the ultimate difference between doing marketing – performing the act, and being successful with marketing â€“ receiving the benefits.
So now that you know what marketing really is, and that planning is a crucial component, how do you do proper marketing planning that maximizes your opportunity?
The second and third parts of this article will appear in the newsletter in future months. If you prefer to read the complete article now, please click here
About the Author
Neville Pokroy is a principal of Mastermind Solutions Inc. He runs the Marketing practice, which includes strategic marketing planning and execution, and now also includes the Digital Umbrella. Neville has over 25 years experience in corporate marketing and consulting in entrepreneurial businesses across an extensive range of industries. Neville’s special skills include the ability to translate his corporate marketing expertise into a disciplined set of marketing skills ideal for entrepreneurial businesses.
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