Have you ever seen those “Free beer tomorrow” signs that decorate the walls of dive bars all across the country?
No matter how many times you’ve seen them, they’re still a little funny.
When you realize that every tomorrow the sign still reads “tomorrow,” the situation gets a lot more serious and sad. You’ll never get a free beer.
Those signs remind me of business decision-making. Anytime we need to decide when to pull the trigger on a big decision, it feels like we say, “I’ll do it tomorrow,” and when tomorrow comes we find ourselves repeating yesterday’s promise.
We decide our business needs to implement a new marketing strategy, but we can’t decide if we should do it now or wait a few weeks when the marketplace is more open to our strategy.
We want to diversify our product line but can’t decide if we need to order new materials this week or wait to see if prices go down next month or the month after.
When we belabor action, it feels a little like we’re waiting for free beer tomorrow.
The idea of making the wrong decision is haunting and makes the entire process paralyzing, but putting it off until tomorrow isn’t going to make things better.
In the world of marketing, we see this almost every day. It might sound logical to wait until your business is in a perfect, healthy place before making a decision about marketing.
“Am I making the right decision here?”
“Should I wait and pull the trigger later?”
“After all this time, will this decision still be effective?”
Marketing, like most business decisions, is about opportunity.
Here is a trick I’ve been using to making decisions more effectively.
When it comes to acting on a decision, there are only three possibilities. I can act on it early, I can act at exactly the right time or I can be late.
When you come to the realization that you will never make a decision at the exact right time, your options are even clearer — you can make it too early or too late.
Once you know it’s never going to be right on time, you only have two options.
Maybe you’re the next Uber or iPhone or whatever our paradigm is for “disruptor” nowadays. No one has heard of you. No one knows why they need your product or service. You’ll be the first to market, but you’ll spend a boatload of money first educating your potential customers.
Or you want to get into building mousetraps. You’re pretty late to the mousetrap game — the market is pretty well established — but the parts you need are already available and are cheaper than they would have been if you had to build them yourself.
Of course you can be way too early or just a little late — there are degrees to the amount of added exposure you receive or money you save — but in the end, you’re either early or late.
It’s all about cost versus opportunity.
If you pull the trigger too early, you’re probably costing yourself money, but you gain more opportunity. The opposite is true of pulling the trigger too late — sacrificing the savings for opportunity cost and exposure.
If you’re waiting for things to be perfect before developing a marketing plan, you’re forgetting that the whole goal of marketing is to improve your business.
Are you waiting to solidify your brand before you begin marketing it? You’ll save some money down the road if you don’t start marketing your brand today, but you’ll miss the added exposure.
If you keep waiting for tomorrow, you’ll never get that free beer. But, for about three bucks, you can have your beer today.