We marketers are a funny bunch. At the beginning of each year we layout our grand plans for generating leads and growing revenue. We look at our wins and losses during the past year and project a nice increase for the new one. That’s our job, isn’t it? Always growing, always at the leading edge of our market? Last time I checked it was. We’re mostly optimistic about our prospects of hitting our targets.
So we create our media plans, craft email and direct mail campaigns and weave in a little social media to round it out and off we go. Through the internal review process making sure all stakeholders have an opportunity to weigh in. We agonize over each point. Each word. Hoping for the best, we launch then wait, measure, rinse and repeat.
And when we don’t get quite the results we’re looking for, we come back stronger, shouting louder and louder. Like a classroom of 28 Third-graders hopped on sugar at their Valentine’s Day party all talking at once.
It’s a cycle that plays out in companies around the world year after year. Each year it gets harder because our customers are getting smarter. And they have the tools to tune out everything we say on a whim. At best we’ve got a couple of seconds to grab their attention.
Part of the problem is that there’s simply too much of everything. Products, services, information – you name it. None of us really needs any more stuff. At the recent Consumer Electronics Show an estimated 20,000 new products were introduced. TWENTY THOUSAND!!! And that’s just the new products. Nevermind the line extensions and new versions of the old. Talk about competition.
I’d argue though that your toughest competition is time. You don’t have enough time to do everything you want. To read and learn everything you could to get ahead. Neither do your customers.
So what’s a marketer to do? Get clear on what it is you want to accomplish and now. Get tough on what you communicate in each of your initiatives. Take time to get to know the customer that means the most to you. And I mean really get to know them. Their aches, pains and why they get up in the morning. Only then will you know what you need to say to them to get their attention and have a fighting chance to win them over.
Sounds simple doesn’t it? Getting down to one single but oh so important point. It’s not fancy nor requires any secret formulas. But it requires a strong, steady hand at the wheel to convince your internal stakeholders exactly what that point is. Everyone will have a different one. But someone – and that someone is you – needs to take all these internal inputs, compare against the external inputs and choose. And when you choose you put your reputation on the line. You’re taking a risk. If you’re right, you’re a hero. If you’re wrong, you have an even tougher job the next time.
It’s because few can do this well that there’s so much clutter and mediocrity in our messages and products. It’s why products are crammed with features we’ll never use.