(This column first appeared on RIMOFTHEWORLD.net on January 31, 2011.)
We used to spend Saturday mornings at the Denver Suds-n-Duds, where I played with miniature bottles of Borax and tiny boxes of Tide while my mom fumbled with quarters and battled the ramshackle appliances. Back then, I could sit for hours in front of the dryer watching the clothes spin. (Mind you, this was long before cable TV or the Internet.) So the delivery of our very first washer and dryer circa 1973 marked the end of an era. It also signaled the start of my disgust with all things washing-related.
What does this have to do with marketing? It reminds me of something Albert Einstein once said: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Had I heeded his implied suggestion, to change strategies when something doesn’t work, I might not still equate doing laundry with serving time. It is for this very reason I strive to save clients the inherent frustration of habitually sticking with unsuccessful marketing campaigns. It might seem like a no-brainer to pull the plug on a plan that doesn’t work. But, remarkably, when I propose a shift, the suggestion is often meet with resistance.
Sure, the idea might be inspired. The right people might be doing the right tasks and have every base covered. Your campaign might be cheap. But check the bottom line. If you’re not getting the results you expected, something is obviously wrong. If this is the case, switch things up. Just don’t make the mistake of throwing the baby out with the bath water.
For example, if your social media campaign isn’t producing results, don’t assume social media doesn’t work. Instead, change your approach. Swap out your profile pictures and bios. Or post something using a completely different tone of voice. Track everything, and see if the changes affect your results. You might be surprised.
On a Limited Budget—
Review artwork and copy for print campaigns. Does your message show potential clients and donors how your product or service would add value for them or does it toot your horn? There is a distinct difference.
For instance, if you own a beauty salon, focus your marketing on the ways your products and services improve your clients’ appearance rather than on your own expertise and qualifications. It won’t make any difference to customers whether you’ve styled hair for 25 days or 25 years unless that experience directly affects their own heads of hair. Select a tagline that shows the way that your experience will ultimately translate to a better experience for them.
For example, instead of: “We’ve been cutting hair for 25 years,” opt for: “Keeping women chic for 25 years.” Although the difference is subtle, it is critical.
The Sky’s the Limit—
One of our clients initially bristled at the thought of changing an advertising campaign he had been doing with another agency for 14 years because, he said, “We’ve always done it this way.”
“Exactly how much business can you track to these ads?” I asked.
“I don’t know. We’ve never tried to figure it out,” he replied.
After working with him to quantify metrics, we were able to demonstrate the ineffectiveness of his existing approach. Faced with the raw data, he finally agreed to change things up. And for a fraction of the cost of his old campaign, we took an entirely different tact which significantly improved his bottom line. And though revamping an ad campaign isn’t rocket science, I’m certain Mr. Einstein would approve.
Until next time, I’ll be Bowling for Business.