Why Are You Heading West When You Need to Go East?

by Brad S

This question is a variation of one asked by management guru Peter Drucker, who posed a question similar to the following, “If you weren’t already in this business, would you get into it today? And if not, what are you going to do about it.”

My question puts it a different way.  Why are you going in the same direction today as you did yesterday when something is indicating you need to go in a different direction?  Applying that to marketing, why are you using a specific marketing approach or conducting an advertising campaign that does not apply to today’s environment.  And if you are, what are you going to do to change it?

I come across many businesses that are stuck in the past when it comes to their marketing.   The owners themselves do not use specific avenues to find a service they need, but they continue to use those advertising venues, often because that is what they have always done or they are told their competitors are still advertising that way.

Wrong!  You can follow them right over the cliff by spending money on things that should not get another cent.

How do you know whether a marketing approach is right for your business?  Well, first you should start with identifying how your best customers found out about you.  How do you do that?  Well, the first thing you can do is ask them.  The second thing you can do is use tracking phone numbers or various landing pages on your website to identify where they are coming from, so even if they can’t remember, you will be able to know.

Then, you should evaluate where you are investing your marketing and advertising dollars and see how those expenditures align with where your best business is coming from so you can make necessary changes to maximize the effectiveness of those channels.  That means either decreasing the expenditures on ineffective media channels or eliminating them all together.   This is easier to do in theory than in practice because business owners, like investors, hate to actually realize their losses and admit that they may have made a mistake in thinking that the particular method of advertising would continue to work.

Now, though I am a marketing professional, even I am not immune to making marketing mistakes.  In fact, I count on making them.  What I do, though, is not commit a substantial amount of financial resources on a marketing approach without first testing it on a small scale.  That means, I may think X is going to really be a great marketing method.  So, I do a pilot project and spend maybe $500 to $1,000 to do a test campaign.  The results of that campaign will give me some kind of indication of whether I am on to something good or bad.   Do I like throwing away $1,000?  Nope.  But I know that the right idea, when it hits, will more than make up for those good ideas that are not so good.

So, take a look at what you are doing and pretend you are just getting into your business.  Would you start using the advertising and marketing approaches that you are currently using?  The answers should tell you what to do next.