The Pied Piper mentality... why following the crowd is so dangerous
One of the biggest misunderstandings about marketing is that it is all about communications: things like social media, advertising, public relations, brochures, websites, telemarketing, blogs, newsletters, e-mail, TV, radio, etc (I could go on and on). If you believe this, then you are missing out on the really important parts of marketing – those parts that will probably be able to set you apart from your competition and make you truly relevant to your customer (and prospective customers).
Being in the communications part of marketing is like being on a big city highway in peak hours traffic – rushing hither and thither without really getting anywhere fast (and, by the way, you’re also burning tons of gas (cash)) . And all the vehicles just blend in to each other as if they were one in the same. It’s only the very odd vehicle that is bigger, coloured more attractively or does something really out of the ordinary that stands out – right? And then, not for very long, because the next day you are back out in the rat race doing it all over again, and yesterday means nothing today.
So why do so many people simply focus on those things that allow them to blend in, rather than finding things that will enable them to stand out? One answer is: it’s easy just to follow the crowd. To many people, just being out on the highway is enough to satisfy their needs (go figure that one out, but it really is true). Charting your own course requires creativity, hard work, planning and effective implementation. Following the course paved by others is easier because the road is so smooth – but the children of Hamelin never did return when they followed the Pied Piper blindly, did they?
Many of you may be asking – so what kinds of ideas, other than communication ideas could I implement that will make me stand out more readily? When I do marketing planning, I use a list of over 150 marketing ideas. Every plan ends up with a different set of ideas because each company’s circumstances are different. How many ideas have you truly considered? Not all will be relevant, but at least you should consider them and either accept or reject the ideas – it then becomes your choice.
Let me share a few of the ideas that may be a little out of the ordinary, however, to some of you, they may in fact be part of your marketing without you ever knowing it:
Hours of operation – opening your business for unusual hours that, in fact, truly satisfy the specific needs that your customers have.
Barter – you don’t always have to pay money for your purchases (or accept money for sales). Bartering always opens up some really unique opportunities.
Research studies – have you every thought of undertaking research – for your business or industry and then becoming a provider of the data to those that value the information?
On Hold Marketing – this is a very effective way to promote products and services while you have the prospect’s fullest attention – they are after all calling you.
Customer service – it really is what brings customers back, again and again.
Partial payment plans – offering unique payment plans that tie customers to you more tightly.
The list is endless, and it keeps growing because of the imagination of creative people. We all have that creativity at some level, so become a leader and don’t follow the Pied Piper blindly. Create your own unique ideas that will allow you to stand out – and get off that crowded highway, it’s not doing you any good at all.
Neville Pokroy consults in the areas of strategic marketing planning, as well as in the development and execution of marketing strategies and plans. He assists companies who require marketing expertise to plan and fully execute marketing programs. If you want to have more choice in marketing your business and in setting yourself apart, visit our website.
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