You’re minding your own business in the frozen food aisle at the grocery store. All of the sudden, by the frozen peas, you see the most attractive person you could’ve imagined.
You screw up your courage.
You walk over.
You ask the person, “Will you marry me?”
You wouldn’t do that?
Everyone has one of those friends who dives into relationships headfirst.
He goes on one date and immediately declares his undying love for the new target of his affection.
How often does this impulsive approach result in a happy, loving marriage? Compare that with the number of times it results in a breakup that leads to the swearing off of relationships — or straight into another whirlwind romance.
It rarely works.
This isn’t dissimilar from the way lots of businesses think about marketing.
Most people don’t meet someone and immediately propose marriage because history, research and common sense tell us that approach generally doesn’t yield the best results.
It’s too fast. It doesn’t match the narrative our culture prescribes for romance and dating.
Most romantic relationships follow a lengthier timeline. Talk over a cup of coffee or a beer, go on a few dates, get to know each other, declare your intentions to date exclusively, talk about having kids, get engaged, fight about where to eat, call off the engagement, get engaged again, plan a wedding and then get married. And that’s just the beginning.
A lot of people who come to me for marketing advice or services are trying to incorporate every element of marketing into their strategy, and they haven’t taken any of those elements on the proverbial first date.
It’s easy to get butterflies because marketing can be as intoxicating as love at first sight.
However, like any relationship with long-term commitment, the success of dedication will be more rewarding.
Showing people all of the different strategies and services they can use in a marketing strategy reminds me of a friend I had in college who would immediately adopt a new hobby anytime he met someone who was passionate about it.
He bought sweet approach shoes, carabiners, ropes, harnesses and even a bag of that cool finger chalk before he ever actually went rock climbing.
He got the nicest mountain bike, bike shoes, a great downhill helmet and maps of all the trails in the area before he ever really tried mountain biking.
He carried his own pool cue to the bars even though he was a terrible shot.
He has three really nice kayaks in his shed and has only ever used one.
A lot of businesses have this kind of relationship with marketing. They will spend a lot of time and money on a website/campaign/logo/commercial before getting burned out and then abandoning the strategy altogether.
Then, without ever really trying it, they decide that marketing just doesn’t work.
Marketing is so much more successful when businesses find a few platforms they feel comfortable with and grow campaigns from there. I might encourage a young business with a young audience to engage customers on social media while slowly scaling up its online ad buy to mirror its organic online activity. A business with an older and wealthier clientele might be advised to take out large ads in very targeted lifestyle magazines.
Should that be the only marketing the companies do? No, but if the company is comfortable and the audience is listening, it’s a great place to start, and it’s great practice for allotting time and energy to marketing.
In my last few columns I have encouraged business owners to abandon the notion of becoming marketing gurus and the desire to resist marketing trends in favor of simply trying something, anything.
Get your website up to date.
Give one social media platform a shot.
Freshen up your signage.
Put together a video campaign.
Build out a new trade-show booth.
Update your packaging.
Share your story with civic groups.
Don’t do it all right now. Just try something and see where it takes you.
We rarely give our clients an everything-all-at-once marketing strategy. Instead, we begin the process with a sort of triage: What do you need the most? Then we begin to implement a marketing plan in phases.
This gives a business time to execute the strategy while adapting to steady growth and figuring out what works best — slowly testing the market and building a more complete strategy. It also gives the audience time to consume and respond to the messaging.
Next time you’re thinking about a new marketing strategy for your business, take your time. Don’t move too fast. Take the time to build a healthy marketing relationship.