September 17 , 2002 Volume 2 Issue 15
13 Platinum Marketing "Attack" Concepts
Long ago I stopped writing marketing plans for others.
Because I learned when I did the work the plan was mine. Not the client's. Yet, with a simple change, when I became part of a thinking team, bigger things happened. Sure, frequently I'm still the writer ... I put the words on paper. Today they're not mine - they belong to the company.
Over time I developed a "system" to pull a marketing plan out. To learn what is important - and what is not. To understand direction. To know focus. A way to discover new ideas.
Several months ago Fast Company ran an article by Keith Hammonds that talked about risk and reward. Mr. Hammonds thrust was about being different. No matter your discipline or industry or competition. He got me to look at marketing and direct marketing ... this is the result; 13 Platinum Marketing "Attack" Concepts.
#1). R I S K is NOT a 4 letter word!
"The biggest risk is not taking one" ... from an AIG print & broadcast advertising program.
The educational system is not good at teaching entrepreneurship principles. The prime definition of that word is "risk". Doing things you have not done before - maybe noone has done before. Ever.
Uncertainty, or risk, is a good thing - it keeps you looking up and ahead. Risk keeps you on your toes. It might even "force" you to do what you've never done before.
We may have gotten scared with the silliness of the dot.com era - when noone could spell the word "R I S K". Often when they needed to. Well, it is time to get back to reality ... sometimes, just sometimes, doing something different requires risk. Take it, and learn.
#2). Being "safe" is the true risk
It's easy to be "s a f e". Anyone can play the game that way.
It takes few brains to follow-the-leader. Or to do it as you've always done. To become a copy-cat in what you do.
Do not play it safe. This doesn't mean be stupid. It doesn't mean ignore what you know. It doesn't say rub every grain in the opposite direction. It DOES say doing what you've always done is not only boring to your marketplace - it puts you in a rut. And you become boring, too!
The real 4-letter word is "b o r e"! Don't let it happen to you. Don't be safe.
#3). There is no box
If you're in a box it's because you allowed it to happen.
Either someone put you in - and you stayed. Or you got in yourself. In either case, get out! And do it now.
Frequently the word "change" comes up when we talk about the box. That people are afraid of change. That it is difficult to change. That change means doing something different, or doing what you've always done a different way.
Yep, all those thoughts are true. Yet, it really doesn't matter. As your marketplace is not as interested in chaNge as they are in chaRge.
Please note the single letter difference in those two words ... chaNge and chaRge. What does it mean? Well, first, chaRge does not mean using your American Express card. No, it means "do something". i.e., move ahead, forward, onward. Action. Possibly in response to an action in your direction. Always something.
If you're in a box, move out. If you're not in a box ... good. Now, do something!
#4. It's Traditional to "Think", ...
. . . yet, you don't have to think traditionally.
When you read the geniuses of history you learn they were great thinkers. Many were not so hot when it came to formal education. Yet, they knew how to think. Which is why they invented or created or discovered, while the rest of us were in awe. And for the most part looked on in awkward silence.
Innovation doesn't just happen. It is developed. Usually over a long, long time. "New" is something we're impatient for ... yet, most of us haven't caught up with what's available today. Which isn't all bad. Much of what we use today has been and will be around a while. Most products/serv ices have a long life cycle. Which is good.
Still, think different - it allows you to be in an attack position.
#5). Strategy first ... then tactics
Think, plan and organize. First. Then do it - do it - do it!
Repetition will improve your reputation. Rarely, every so rarely, does anything worth while happen with a single effort.
The world's most recognized icon is that of Coca Cola. You won't live a day of your life without seeing or hearing something from Coke. They are a constantly active marketing engine - always doing. And when they fall down ... which they do every so often ... they just keep going. Like a superb prize fighter - they get up and go at it again.
And again. Over and over.
Ross Perot said it best; "Ready, Aim and then Fire, Fire, Fire, Fire, Fire!"
#6). Marketing without risk is not marketing
The definition of marketing generally and direct marketing specifically is taking a risk.
As you never really know what is going to happen. You only think you know - based on knowledge, experience and your gut. Not all bad - yet, still a true risk.
Because we measure every marketing program, many times we think we know what will happen. When all we really know is what happened last time. Sure, based on testing and a thoroughly analysis, we know a lot. Still, we do not know what is going to happen this time out the door.
The day the Gulf War started I was in Boston waiting for a plane to Saudi Arabia to do a seminar series. All my time, money and effort that went into that trip never happened. A risk situation - and I lost.
The USA Federal Drug Administration cost me a six figure check from a single client when they changed the rules on a food supplement - the day before a 20 million coupon drop was scheduled. A risk we had not counted on. And I lost. Again.
December 7, 1941. October 27, 1929. November 22, 1963. September 11, 2001. Each a date we either lived through, or know about. Each a marketing disaster. Risk at work.
To be in attack position for marketing, you are automatically in a risk position.
#7). Still ... "perform" outside your industry
To take advantage of every opportunity you need to think attack.
Which means you need to think risk performance. And that can be difficult - especially inside a mature industry segment. Or product category.
Sometimes - especially when you're #2 or #3 in the marketplace - it's easy to milk your cash cow and not chase the leader. When you're the leader, it can be 'safe' to do what you've always done, because it's always worked. True leaders don't think that way - they look for ways to perform outside their industry.
Hertz, the rent-a-car folks, are thinking more than just cars and trucks. Next time you come to a highway construction site look at the equipment logo. Good chance it will say Hertz. These folks are tackling a tough industry, with a solid "ole boy" network mentality. Where business incest is a way of life. From my look in, Hertz is winning. Meaning they are more than making a dent.
Find a way to not be looked as one of many. Instead, one of one.
#8). Always remember, people are your target audience
Marketing is talking with a well-defined and very specific target group that
buys what you sell.
The definition can be that simple.
I've been in marketing and sales since my dad tossed me out at age 12. Ringing door bells, making presentations, on the road learning from and selling to an audience ever since. There is one thing I know for an absolutely certainty;
Companies never buy anything - only people buy things.
Committees within companies or associations, organizations of every type, groups or clubs or gatherings of any dimension are not the target. They never do anything. Only people make decisions.
Always aim your message at people.
#9). Marketing Objectives mirror Corporate Objectives
... and if they don't you're in a bundle of trouble.
For reasons beyond understanding, frequently the marketing team does not get woven into the fabric of the entire organization. They instead stand alone - often in the outfield. Almost as outlaws.
This is fatal, if you expect your marketing to perform as it can. As anticipated. As expected. As budgeted!
Whatever your groups objectives, make sure everyone knows them. And understands them. As then it will be a good bet your marketing will aim you in the direction you want to go.
#10). Time is fuel
D.I.R.F.T. is the word ... Do It Right the First Time.
Why is it everything seems to be rush-rush-rush? Let's talk time ... and then time to do it right.
An eon ago my dad visited during the year-end holidays. Part of my sales promotion activity was installing seasonal decorations for large companies. Over the summer we created and sold them - in about 10 days after Thanksgiving we put them all up. Our work ethic was 'round the clock. It was not unusual to put in several back-to-back 24 hour days.
My dad said to me, following one of those sessions; "Either you guys are very disorganized, or you don't have enough people". Dad was right on both counts. When you do something once a year, it's hard to know the best way to do it. And never-the-less, we were understaffed.
24/7/365 is all the time each of us get. Not a minute more - or less. What we do with it as we first plan, and then implement our marketing programs, is important.
Planning your time is as important as planning the plan.
#11). Money is fuel
Budgets need to return to reality. Marketing reality - not fantasy - which has been the rule for the last few years.
How can a company justify millions for R&D, hire expensive and talented people, and not offer support with a full marketing program? And then expect marketing to work on a shoestring? The result, far to often, is "your program didn't perform as advertised".
Well, it's time to understand that marketing, like new product development and highly qualified people, comes with a price tag. And that often that price is not at the bottom end of the scale. Sometimes it is "real" money.
It is impossible to be in the attack mode without funds. If your money does not match your audience, your people, your time, your objectives, then S T O P until it does.
#12). People are the most important fuel
A few months ago I presented at a marketing event. A 20 year old young lady in her Junior year at Harvard was in the audience. We talked ... and I was impressed.
This past summer she got herself an internship at a local marketing agency - she is going to be a part of our business. I'm ecstatic. We need brains in this business. As people are the most important fuel.
Recently I've enjoy the opportunity to work with a full service interactive agency. One located outside the normal geographic hot-beds of marketing / direct-marketing activity. Still, they have built a team of extremely talented and thinking people. And as a result their group is on "fire" with growth.
People is what our business is all about. Good people.
#13). When all "fails" ... start something new ... begin again
There are no failures - only lessons.
The 13th point in this list is last for reason. There is the "assumption" you have something to offer that someone else needs. That your product or service has an audience who can buy what you sell. And truly needs to buy it.
Okay, with that platform, this; when your marketing program - whatever it is - doesn't work, start over. Try it again. A different way. Down a new path. Walk a route not taken before. Stay out of the box. Think ... and do it again - this time in an unconventional way. Or more unconventional than your first try.
Do NOT follow the leader ... branch off. Be unique. Change where you are. Run instead of walk. Listen before you speak. Look up. Know your cup is half-full ... just before it overflows.
Why this attack approach? Because, if the idea was sound and solid to begin, it still is. And whatever you did the first time just needs another try. Another way.
That's it - 13 Platinum Marketing "Attack" Concepts. Go for it!
Ray is home. Back at Rockingham Ranch, Roll, Arizona. After 13,806 miles on his Harley. 32 of the mainland 48 States, 3 Provinces of Canada - visits with family, friends, clients ... attending business meetings ... and having a wonderful visit through-out America.
For the full story of the August ride, "click" here.