Knocking over the (marketing) dominos

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I started my career in professional marketing over 30 years ago — even to me that sounds like a long time. I’m sure many will read that and assume I’m old school, stuck in my way, don’t understand, can’t grasp new concepts, and on and on and on.

None of that is true. What is true is that as we explore the edges of marketing trends and technologies; the rise and fall of various methods and techniques; and the overwhelming changes happening every day in our field — it becomes evident to me, that what’s old becomes new. The cycles are just fast today and the investment is much smaller.

My first (real) marketing job out of college also introduced me to the world of technology. I was lucky enough to begin working for a small software company called JD Edwards — of course, they did became a tech darling — but at the time, they were a fairly niche accounting software company.

What made them different, and potentially it was just a general attitude of the company founders, they didn’t mind experimenting with their marketing. It was way before the digital age of marketing, and that’s what was different — they had to pay to play, there were not free, free to start, freemium services out there to play with, it was real money. And that money had to produce results.

Enter Dan Gregory, one of the founders of JD Edwards. In the span of 18 months, I learned more, did more and achieved more than most of my peers. For a small software company, they put lots of responsibility in my hands — and that was because Dan believed in me, believed in our little band of misfits and also believed the way forward was through a few, very targeted (but expensive) marketing activities.

Today, it may seem like a no brainer to do seminars (webinars), leverage content and assets, utilize training or base our go to market strategy on the questions our customer service/help desk people were being asked — but at the time, it was fairly revolutionary.

We created newsletter. We create training classes. We scheduled training weeks “out in the field”. We had multi-media presentations. We talked to Customer Service to find out trends and tracked those trends. We used seminars to introduce and educate. We looked at market trends, leveraged our relationship with IBM, integrated our solution with PC and spreadsheet technology. And most of that was fairly leading edge — and unheard for a company our size.

And it worked. When you combine a great product with some fairly good marketing, along with a and in depth understanding of how your customers buy, then implement your solution — you get the success of a JD Edwards.

Fast forward 30 years –

From an old marketing dog’s perspective, you always have to cover your bases: Market, Customer, Solution/Product, Messaging, Content, Journey from prospect to customer, etc. That hasn’t changed at all. The differences are the “how” each of those are used and integrated into our marketing.

Testing isn’t a new concept in marketing — we did it a JDE. What is somewhat different is the expense associated with that testing. We ran display ads — and paid dearly for them. We created newsletters — and paid dearly for them. We did direct mail and telemarketing — and paid dearly for them. 
Today, we can spin up a test of almost any aspect of our marketing for pennies (or free) — the limiting factor is no longer our budgets, but our time and the time of our customers. In the world of digital marketing, time and attention is our currency, not dollars.

If you really want to understand how valuable time and attention are — look at these numbers associated with email marketing. They are industry standards, and they can make or break your marketing efforts and campaigns:

  • Email Open/Read Rate: 15% to 25%
  • Click Rate: 1% to 3%

And if you want to understand just how dismal that is, think through how many people you email with your message, newsletters, announcements, etc.

  • If you have 10,000 email addresses,
  • Between 1,500 to 2,500 will even Open it
  • Of those, only 100 to 300 actually click on a link and leave their email to read, view or “act” on your offer.

If you’re a small business, or just starting out, and have a few hundred or few thousand email address of either customers or prospects — they need to be either rabid fans, or highly interested in what you’re saying to make any progress at all.

The great thing about the marketing process today — you can test, test, test — without needing a huge budget. In most cases, it’s your time to create, push it out, analyze and adjust. And if you’re lucky enough to work for a company that is investing in marketing technologies — you have a virtual workbench for testing.

Marketing Dominos

I used the domino analogy in the title — for simple fact — today, we can create elaborate marketing campaigns, automate each step, have one “click” create a series of automated actions. Each of those is like a domino — the click is like the action of knocking over the first one. If for some reason, it stops in the process, we look at what happened, then rebuilt.

It’s an iterative process requiring us to stay very attuned to what happens at each point of contact. It takes experience gained over time to create more and more elaborate patterns. In the end, once we have built a successful pattern (campaign), we can replicate and do it again.


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Contact me today (really I mean that).  I can help you and am available for short/long term consulting or employment for the right opportunity.  Additionally, I invite you to read more of my articles, I post on many of the sites above.  Sharing ideas, taking products to market, or just understanding more about the process - that's what it's all about.   Issues with any or all content used in this post should be directed to the author.