Friday, July 9

Marketing Pain: Should And Consequence

"Thinking about marketing causes me pressure, and the joy goes away." — Susan, Artist

The quote comes from an article I stumbled across in the Steveport Times. The cause is traceable. Too many marketing professionals (and other people too) overload their sales pitches and advice with "should or consequence."

Take the recent advice from an Internet marketing and management consultant. He provides people a choice: The Pain of Discipline or the Pain of Regret.

He says if you don't invest 10-20 percent of your annual revenue into marketing, you'll regret it when the paychecks aren't pouring in the door. Interestingly enough, this conversation comes from the same industry he is targeting with his advice.

The principle is based upon psychology. If you don't get an education, you'll regret it later. If you don't control your drinking, you'll regret being addicted. If you don't eat your meat, you'll regret not having any pudding.

Of course, the post missed one or two things in the writing. First, the nine steps to "immediate results in addiction marketing" aren't likely to cost 10-20 percent of an annual revenue. And second, if we are writing an analogy that likens marketing avoidance to addiction, we ought to consider that abrupt change carries with it a certain element of risk.

There is no should and consequence in marketing. Period.

There are dozens of questions businesses ought to ask before setting a marketing budget. Here are a few...

What business are you in? How location based is the business? What is the size of your potential audience (immediately and realistically)? What are you investing now and what can you afford? What does future growth really look like? What are your competitors doing? And what are your needs to keep the doors open?

If we use the addictive analogy, let's consider someone with a weight problem. I can tell someone with a weight problem that they "should" exercise. The consequences are a whole long list of health problems. Who knows? It might even resonate.

Based on averages, they'll be good for eight weeks before they crash and give up. The same thing can happen with "should and consequence" marketing.

Small businesses, many of them desperate in a tightening economy, ramp up their marketing budgets from 5 to 20 percent based on the advice of someone who's best interest is based on them doing so. The budget is then planned, executed, and spent, sometimes without any allotment for contingency. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. But that's not marketing, it's gambling.

When it doesn't work out, the small business is in a position worse than when they started. And, chances are, they have less revenue (which impacts the marketing budget) and a greater disdain for marketing. We see it here from time to time. Prospects who decided to spend an inflated budget based on the advice of a big firm, only to come back without anything left and a greater need for help. Sometimes we help them anyway. Sometimes we don't.

Generally speaking, marketing is much like exercise. Sure, it's always more fun helping companies that are already fit and running circles around the competition. However, most companies aren't like that. They tend to be somewhere between a little flabby to on life support. And so, they need a fitness program that considers their goals, needs, and current situation.

For marketing firms, specifically, try to refrain from "should or consequence" pitches, especially since there is an alternative. Outline what they "could" do, measure the progress, and then adjust as necessary. Not only will it earn their trust, chances are you'll earn an ever-increasing marketing budget too.

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