Build it and they will come.
If only that were true.
Too often, marketing and product teams fall prey to what I call “Field of Dreams” marketing. Whether it’s a slick new website, or a shiny new product, or a fancy new advertising campaign, many companies will rely on their internal ‘tribal knowledge’ and fail to research, survey, measure, and test new marketing/sales/product ideas. There’s an assumption that, if there are enough people that believe in it, it will inevitably become successful. Even worse is the idea that so much time and money has been sunk into something that there’s no turning back. These thought processes can prove fatal for companies, especially during a recession, when cash is tight and customers are hard to find.
I have a dirty little secret to share: using good processes on the front end can actually help save you time and money on the back end. So how can you avoid stepping on the Field of Dreams? There are several things you can do to sidestep the pitfalls… let’s focus on the three examples above:
- A slick new website – good websites are expensive, and if they aren’t done right they can actually act as a barrier to customer acquisition (for more on websites, read my entry “Your website is your strongest sales tool“). Ask your customers about your ideas to change the site. Develop a clear plan for what you want your site to accomplish. Hire an experienced expert.
- A shiny new product – CEOs and VPs love to use their “instincts” to determine the next generation of products and services. Resist the temptation or the results can be disastrous. Use honest-to-goodness focus groups, advisory panels, and marketing research to complement the internal knowledge.
- A fancy new advertising campaign – alas, marketing teams just love to develop new ideas for communicating to a company’s audience, but that can be dangerous if kept unchecked, leading to groupthink marketing or even worse (yes, that’s a real McDonalds ad). Remember your audience; if your communicating with software developers, for example, you wouldn’t want anything over-the-top or cheesy because they would resist it like the plague.
You get the idea. By applying best practices, like the Aximum Marketing Success Cycle, you can make sure your efforts are focused and on-target. Just keep your eye on the ball and you’ll be fine.
May 18, 2009 at 4:07 am
Ah, yes. The beauty of the ocean crashing upon the shoals, cascading across the water-beaten rocks in an awesome spectacle of raw, natural power. For eons, these rocks have borne the brunt of nature’s wrath in an unending tug-of-war between an unstoppable force and an immovable object, providing constant movement but no objective sign of progress.
Do your marketing efforts feel the exact same way?
If they do, you’re not alone. It’s all too common to have marketing teams engaging in tons of activity, constantly moving and working on stuff but providing no real signs of progress. We call this seemingly futile exercise “churn.” This is one of the main reasons why many people see marketing as an inefficient and unmeasurable activity, and it’s also a big reason why marketing budgets are so high. Not only is churn frustrating to management, but it’s also discouraging to your marketing team. And don’t even ask about how it affects your relationship with your customers.
What’s the best way to avoid churn? If a solid process is put in place on the front end, it’s easy to keep marketing activities more focused, more disciplined, and more tightly aligned with the overall goals of the company. At Aximum, we use a system called the “Marketing Success Cycle,” specifically designed to eliminate marketing churn:
- Assess the current situation based on past communication activities, current needs, competition, and marketplace trends/factors
- Report the findings in clear, unambiguous language, focusing on how to improve communication and increase revenue opportunities
- Diagnose the best courses of action based on timelines, budget, and goals
- Execute on the agreed-upon strategies and tactical components of the plan
- Measure results, proactively report metrics, and compare actual results to goals, all with continuous improvement in mind
If your marketing team has a strategically-minded person at the helm, they can incorporate this process and achieve much better results. If you find yourself in need of a person like this, or you just need some help to take things to that next level, give us a call at 480-814-8838 or send us an email and we’ll be happy to speak with you about how to make your marketing activities churn-free.
Now go play in the surf. But be careful… those rocks can be slippery.
May 8, 2009 at 8:47 am