When we were kids we used to play a game where you had to say the first thing that came into your head after hearing a word. They do it in interviews sometimes. It’s normally called “quick-fire” or something like that. I’m not sure. I never cared about the name. The reason we played, though, was to see what people would instinctively say when they couldn’t think through the consequences of their response. Of course, being boys, our questions tended to focus on…well…I probably don’t need to elaborate.
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Twenty years later and it strikes me that the reasoning behind the game is still sound. How often do we change our answers when we think about the consequences they might mean. I may think that the guy I’ve just been in a meeting with is a complete tosser, but I probably say something neutral like “he had some interesting ideas”.
(well, I’m probably not the best example of this game as I have a unfortunate habit of saying whatever is in my head at any one point in time. It’s endearing to some, infuriating to others)
This has got me thinking. Can I do an experiment with people I know in business and through in the word “marketing” so that we can finally see what people really think?
The reason this has crossed my mind lately is the sheer number of businesses I have met over the past year who have, in my opinion, a pretty warped idea of what marketing is really all about.
Well, it can be. That certainly can help. You do sometimes need the ability to sell what’s on the table and the right words can have a big impact. Sure that’s part of it. I’d say roughly 5%, but I’ll give it to you. Pretty Pictures
Again, OK. It can help. If you’re trying to sell beautiful car it helps to show it. If you’re selling your services as a painter it helps to show a beautifully painted room. People react to visuals. They get drawn in. So I’ll give this another 5%. Social Media
This can be part. It doesn’t have to be a big part and it can also be a HUGE part. It sort of depends on who you are and what you’re selling. It depends on your customers and it depends on your team. But I’ll put this in the mix. Another 5%? Leaflets & Brochures
Anyone else guess what I’m about to say? I don’t need to, do I? We’re now up to 20% aren’t we? Websites
I may disappoint you when I say this is going up to 10%. It is. The web is the easiest marketing tool you have – the most flexible, the most cost-effective… It’s a pretty important consideration and it’s brought us up to 30%.
Seriously. That’s where I’m putting the majority of answers I get.
I’ll put it more bluntly. The majority of businesses I meet spend most of their marketing effort, attention and money on 30% of the marketing mix. That’s a pretty shocking set of numbers isn’t it? And if you think about it, you know it’s true. I know it. You know it.
Why is this?
I suppose in some ways the 30% they think about represents the easiest parts of marketing. The gloss. Well, that’s not fair. It’s not the gloss. That’s a bit demeaning. It’s more like appreciating a really good meal without knowing how to cook. A bit like the kids on Jamie Oliver’s shows who don’t realise that steak comes from cows. They see the finished product by itself and never think about the underlying work that needs to be done to get to that stage.
You can appreciate a house all you want, but if you’re going to build one, you better make bloody sure of the foundations. Otherwise, that pretty bit of art-deco finishing on the top of your stairway bannister is going to look slightly less pretty at the bottom of a collapsed building.
And that’s kind of the point anyways, isn’t it? I ask ten business owners I know about marketing and the majority of them think about the 30% they can see and feel. Not one of them think about the foundations of the house. They may be lucky. They might be built on the most solid foundations around. They might not be lucky.