Why Is Marketing So Difficult?
This was the question a small business owners, a CPA, asked me recently. He lives in a finite world of numbers, tax and accounting laws, deadlines and black and white. There is no or very little gray. There is some room for creativity, but then that’s how they caught Al Capone.
I tried to explain that there are rules that govern marketing (e.g. know thy audience, repetition, etc..), but the decisions as to how one reaches the audience and what messages to send are where big doses of creativity emerge.
He seemed disappointed. In part, I think it is because he doesn’t consider himself “creative”. He’s an accountant.
This conversation got me to thinking about how marketing had changed over the decades.
Marketing Was Simpler
It used to be that marketing a product or a company was simpler. It required the same disciplines of defining the audience, figuring out how to reach them, crafting a compelling message, BUT that’s where the similarities begin to fade.
Then, the media choices were fewer. To get the word out, all one had to do was put together an ad for traditional media (TV, radio and/or newspaper), select the right media and frequency based on a budget and toss in a product brochure or an in-store display and call it DONE.
It is far more complex today. With the diversification of channels and the fragmentation of the audiences, one has to work much harder to get the message out.
Today, a single campaign can incorporate a video, a webinar series, a free e-book, traditional advertising integrated with online advertising on social media platforms, coupons, a targeted social media campaign, landing pages, an infographic, an email campaign, blogging, and perhaps a joint partnership. There is a lot more to consider, a lot to do to reach a fragmented audience and a lot more to measure to determine which vehicles are delivering.
More Childlike Marketing Is Required Today
Marketing has become a lot more like playing with LEGO blocks. There are hundreds of pieces and it can be difficult to determine which specific combination will create the desired effect.
Today, marketing requires childlike creativity, imagination peppered with some bravery to stand out and be noticed. The type that comes with clicking one LEGO to another creating a gas station or a space station.
Creativity has always been a cornerstone of stellar marketing and I’m not just referring to the artistic illustrations or copy writing abilities. Creativity and artistic license was and is also involved with a dynamic strategy and a creative media plan.
But the overabundance of options requires a mind shift – from the formulaic to a world where imagination and experimentation rules.
A degree of braveness is also required. Few adults are sufficiently uninhibited to risk creating something people scuff at. Yet children do it all the time and with encouragement grow.
So where does this discussion lead us? Well, here are five tips for business owners, like my CPA friend, who struggle with their marketing efforts.
- Begin with your end goal in mind. What do you want to create? Answer that question and work to build your answer, one block at a time. Don’t try to chew it off all at once.
- Experiment. Understand that everything you try won’t work. The art comes from refining and learning what does work and building on it.
- Drop your inhibitions. The art of business requires an artistic approach. Do what feels comfortable, but be willing to stretch yourself and the image you hold of your business. Go beyond the obvious.
- Treat your marketing more like play and less like serious work. You’ll be more inclined to do more marketing and there is a very good chance it will be more effective.
- Practice being more childlike. We all have an inner child – some aspect of us dying to get out. Release it. Have some play time with your inner child and see where it leads you, your business.
Simply stunning child’s play.
Share your thoughts about today’s marketing in the comments section. Do you find it overwhelming? Which tools are you using for your marketing efforts?
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