October is upon us; a truly beautiful time of year shown by the burst of color in the trees, the fresh crisp air blowing in from the north and the loads of ripe fruits and vegetables ready to be enjoyed at their most succulent. It’s harvest time. The harvest is a wonderful time of celebration, and especially if you grew up near the fields, a benchmark on the year behind and forecast on the year ahead. It is a time for corn, football, and pumpkin patches (in case you don’t know, I am from Nebraska).
The Procedure-able and Predictable Aspect of Horror Movies
There are few things more enjoyable than watching a scary movie with that special someone or in a group. It could be a real mind-bender, gore-fest, creature feature or a campy send up; they all have their place. We all know them and most of us have our favorites we enjoy again and again, but there is one thing that every horror movie has in common, and that is the lack of common sense of the characters.
If you have ever wondered why they were running farther into the forest or why she was going into the basement alone, you are not alone. It seems that every scary situation, in one way or another, is due in part to someone’s bad decision. While the character’s inept common sense may fit the story, it is an over-used plot detail. I find the same to be true in most marketing decisions.
The Number One Priority to Business: Your Bottom-Line
Simply put, to anyone in business, what is the single most important thing for your company? I will give you this hint: the answer is exactly the same, no matter your particular firm, your industry or your country. Whether you are in a non-profit organization or an evil conglomerate, the bottom line answer is still the same.
It is your bottom line.
No company can survive without profit. It is the life-blood to every organization (whether it says so or not in its mission statement). That does not mean that every company across the globe values nothing but profit. This has nothing to do with value. This has to do with surviving. In order to function as a business and stay alive, the company HAS TO MAKE A PROFIT. In other words, it has to bring in more capital than it sends out. This is an easy concept to understand and is taught in all business introduction classes, but somehow seems to become The Invisible Man once a marketing professional steps into the room.
Always Measure Your Marketing Data
The point here is not to blame any style, type or subset of marketing. Traditional advertising is not to blame. Direct marketing is not to blame. What is to blame is the individuals who still believe that sending “good vibes” out into the atmosphere does their company in good. Recently, the term “branding” and “branding strategy” has come to mean the aspect of marketing that doesn’t necessarily lead to sales, but creates good will about a company that will return in unmeasurable ways. There is as much chance of this bringing a profitable return as there is Freddy Kruger wearing a tutu. This is why: if there is no way to measure the success of a particular strategy, then there is no way to know if the strategy worked. If you do not measure your efforts and their success, then you are ultimately doing nothing for your business except relying on luck to win the day. Anyone who’s been in a Final Destination movie knows luck is not something to rely on.
Every marketing tactic can work, given the right situation and investment. Commercials still have their place; online advertising can be a great way to get your message out; a direct mail piece can still get your message to your target. But in order for any of these (and the millions of other ideas) to work, there must be a marketing strategy in place. You need to know who your target is and how they will receive your marketing, what exactly to communicate to your target in order to motivate them to purchase, and where they are when they are most easily influenced. Then you need to know (this is not easy, but necessary) what tactic caused them to respond, and measure that against sales numbers. I am not saying this is easy, but it is SMART. This is the leg work that finds you at the intersection of success and early retirement, which, according to everyone I know is a great place to be. That is, unless you are in Zombieland.