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Bull’s Butt or Bull’s Eye? Which side of the bull are you targeting?

Are your activities making marketing irrelevant?

There’s no better way to become redundant than by acting redundant, yet in these challenging times so much of marketing is exactly that. I applaud marketing folks that are seeing these times as an opportunity to outshine the competition. Money spent now should be targeted on more effectively generating business opportunities and helping your company stand out. But just when your company needs you most and when conditions are ripe for break-through marketing, the majority of marketers are being extra conservative.

Most stories of great achievement center on a hero that is outnumbered (a lot of competition) and outgunned (bigger budgets) in unsure times. The underdog takes calculated risks (OK, jumping off a 70-story building isn’t so calculated, but that’s Hollywood) to win the day and becomes the hero – luckily for marketers, we don’t have to dodge real bullets. In an economically tight environment with large, well-established competitors, sticking to run-of-the mill best practices are sure to result in little perceived value-add.

I’m not going to tell you what specific activities are most important since every company has different challenges and opportunities. How you prioritize and execute those activities is critical. It’s less costly to execute activities and fewer folks are being aggressive, so it’s the perfect situation to capitalize on and demonstrate how marketing can put your organization in winning positions.

Your obvious objections include:
“With tightened budget and reduced headcounts, we only have enough to keep the lights on.” I would challenge this by pointing out, like every group, it’s also marketing’s job to maximize effectiveness in your activities. If you ever thought, “With 10% of my budget, we’ll push the envelope,” you were wrong. With every “reasonable” dollar of budget spent, you should ask “how are we doing this more effectively than our competitors?” You’ll still do direct marketing – are you simply doing the math and expecting the typically dismal conversation rates? Are you happy stating success is reaching “industry standard” metrics? You should be A/B testing different subject lines and content. You should either have offers that are worth doing campaigns around or not do them at all. But, for God’s sake, stop wasting money for no competitive advantage! Stop wasting money just because you have the budget to waste it!

“We don’t want to jeopardize losing more budget/headcount/etc.” The best way to lose budget and people is to show how absolutely mundane and replaceable they are. If a manager pays a person $75k to do tasks that can be accomplished by someone for $50k, now is the time they might make a staffing change or outsource the function. The function is much more difficult to outsource if the person that is doing it brings some extra spice to the job and demonstrates differentiated success.

This topic can go on and on, so, in my next post I’ll discuss some ways to be more effective by putting greater focus on fewer activities. Look forward to Part II: “Your Marketing ADD Fix: That Smaller Budget.”