Marketing shouldn’t be about shortcuts

Shortcut Remember that one essay test you took in school.  You meant to study.  But for some reason you just didn't have the time. Truth be told, you didn't really read the book.  But you skimmed over the Cliff Notes.  And you did repent in the end — cramming the night before the test. 

Sure, sure…you should have started cramming a few days earlier or at the very least, not so late that night.  With the radio on. 

Do you remember what you got on that test?  I'll bet you weren't happy with the grade.

Shortcuts didn't work in school and they don't work in marketing either.  I have yet to see a marketing department or agency that had a drive-up window. 

I get why it happens.  There's an almost constant demand on CMOs and marketing directors to produce results.  And no agency worth their salt doesn't want that too.

But there are some pretty important aspects of your business and products/services that need to be understood before we just whip up a brochure or direct mail series.

We aren't doing the strategic thinking and planning just to get our jollies.  We have a responsibility.  We owe it to you.  Because you're about to spend a lot of money.   We want to make sure you spend it right.

This applies if you're doing your own marketing too.

Getting ready to produce something. Are you sure you're not taking a shortcut? 

  • If you can't describe how you are genuinely and relevantly different from your competitors,  STOP.
  • If you can't describe your ideal customer, STOP.
  • If you don't have a broad brand/marketing plan so that you aren't operating in a vacuum, STOP.
  • If you haven't defined how you are visually going to communicate your company's offerings, STOP.
  • If you don't know how you're going to follow up on the leads the new marketing tactic generates, STOP.

Whether you're working with your internal team or with your agency –  don't short change the process.  If you do some strategic thinking up front and make some of those key decisions, the tactics and tools actually get produced much faster and much more cost effectively. 

Shortcuts are never going to yield the results you want.  Better to do it right than do it again.  Just ask your former teacher who gave you the C.

How do you ensure that you're not taking a shortcut?

Related posts:

~ SWOT:  Your annual check up
~ Do you go where everyone else goes?
~ Product packaging – part of your brand or disposable?

Note:  This post is a golden oldie reprint of something I wrote in 2007.  Just thought I'd share it again in case you forgot the lesson!

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11 comments on “Marketing shouldn’t be about shortcuts

  1. Drew, excellent points all!

    One I would add is…

    If you don’t have a realistic time frame of how long it will take your marketing to gain traction, STOP!

    Most companies have unrealistic expectations of their ROI, especially how fast their marketing will begin to work. They think, if I spend X today I should see Y as early as tomorrow, when the reality might be that Y is still a few months away.

    Without that realistic timeframe, many companies give up on X just before they are about to reap the benefits, thus wasting their investment.

  2. *Nodding*

    I can understand why you didn’t open this can of worms because it is a bit tangential but it is related.

    All the research on excellent thinkers, creativity and innovation has proven time and time again the value of incubation. Our brains simply aren’t wired to receive a problem and pound out a solution. We have to look at it from a myriad of angles before an outline begins to appear.

    Since you used a school example, how many times have you handed in a final, only to have the answer hit you on the way out of the examination room. I’m pretty sure we can all relate.

    It’s the same in marketing. You have to approach the problem with serious resolve day after day and from a number of perspectives (customer, business, front-line employee, competitor, related industries, etc) to come up with something that has real stopping power.

  3. Andy says:

    Excellent post Drew, as always. I wish people would stop trying to cut corners, and just get things right!

  4. Susie Sharp says:

    Thanks, Drew, for this reminder. I see this was originally written in 2007; it is even more relevant with the onslaught of social media. With the advent of easily available tools, hoards of people think of themselves as ‘experts’ and go off willy-nilly without a plan – AND, without an attention span. The web is littered with abandoned dreams. If you’re going to use social media, you need to hire someone who realizes that Social Media is a MARRIAGE, not a date. Just some thoughts to share –
    Susie Sharp in Cleveland, Ohio

  5. Victoria says:

    This is a great post. The bottom line is, why waist your energy on marketing efforts that you don’t even fully understand yourself? One of the most important points I think you made is that if you don’t genuinely know how you are different than your competitors then you should stop. Differentiation is key, if you aren’t even setting your company apart from the rest, what are you doing?

    http://www.blogs.vbpoutsourcing.com

  6. Dicios says:

    Great post, I agree, marketing is’nt a shortcut, and it is built around customers, we must know them.

  7. Erica Myers says:

    Great article. I couldnt agree more. Not only are shortcuts often noticed and looked down upon by customers, in todays digital age they are noticed by search engine crawlers as well. This leads to unsatisfied customers and search engines which is no good for anybody. If youre going to do something, do it right.

  8. Phil,

    Bravo — great addition! So many companies/marketing folks execute only to pull the plug just as their tactic was starting to work.

    Again…the hope that there’s a magic (and therefore fast) bullet out there.

    Drew

  9. Andrew,

    No argument from me on that one. In fact, I’ll go a bit further. No only will you not come up with a solution in a nanosecond. But, if you don’t invite some outside voices into the conversation — your solutions become part of an echo chamber. Same old, same old.

    Giving yourself time to think and soak in those thoughts is ultimately the best way to find new answers. And the more you think out loud with a variety of people, the more interesting the options will be.

    Drew

  10. Andy — Amen!

    Susie — I think that people are hungry for the microwave solution. But relationships don’t work that way. As you said — it’s a marriage. A long term, slow to develop, requires a lot of trust, relationship. And you don’t create one of those over night.

    Victoria — Differentiation and understanding what really matters to your customer takes time. Which is why shortcuts fail.

    Drew

  11. tray my best to achieve result

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