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?
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!