A Great Recipe for Throwing Your Marketing Dollars Away

It’s easier than you realize, and companies do it all the time. And it’s particularly worth thinking about at this time of year.

Okay, you know your products, your market, your competitors, your customers and who your best new business prospects are. So, you assume you can use common sense based on all this knowledge, develop your messaging, your materials and your content and just send it out “out there.” Sometimes, you’re so sure your products or services are superior you don’t even need to strategize your tactics, you just say it like it is. “We’re great, we do it better, and that’s that!” I’m not kidding, you’d be surprised how many marketers give this little thought to their core messaging. It’s called complacency.

Conversely, you may be newer in the marketplace, and you don’t yet have the benefit of all this experiential wisdom. That’s even more dangerous, because, while the above-mentioned marketers may be operating under dangerous misconceptions, if you venture out into your market without first developing a core message based on real substance, you’ll be flying totally blind! Or, in both cases, the real danger is, as an extremely experienced sales trainer once told me, “when you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”

So, if you’re determined to throw your money away, go for it! Don’t spend meaningful time developing what people in our world call a key thought. That’s the single underlying message that should be driving every aspect of every campaign you develop and every asset you produce.

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Case in point: I knew a guy who was put by a large ad agency on the original “I Love NY” campaign with its distinctive heart graphic and type logo. This campaign has now been replicated by countries and towns all over the world. Do you think a bunch of marketing and creative people sat in a room one day and, out of the blue, suddenly said, “Hey, let’s write a campaign theme song?” Actually, they developed a key thought first which directly addressed a fundamental problem the client identified (tourism was way down in New York State), and that was probably something to the effect of “New York is the best place to live, work and play.” And, as is often the case, that exact phrase never found its way into the headline or main graphic. But some very smart folks decided that the campaign that communicated this key thought had to be very memorable and convey enthusiasm and pride. The result was that great TV campaign with that memorable theme song. But the fundamental unifying message never changed from day one.

The answer to meaningful marketing and advertising success is looking at your market, determining a core message that will resonate with them, considering what your competitors are doing (so you never look like a copycat) and maybe most importantly, making absolutely sure that every communique you send out there respects that key thought. Failure to do so will have you wasting time and money on something that is veering off strategy, and that will come back to haunt you.

You can always make a really smart move and hire professionals who, time and time again, achieve great success for their clients because they know this process inside and out. And, oh yeah, we do it really well.

John