Up in smoke: How to avoid tactic burn in marketing

7th Mar 2011

Bryony Thomas advises how to avoid the phenomenon of tactic burn when businesses go from one marketing tactic to another without ever achieving any real financial gains or results.  

When a business leapfrogs from one marketing technique to another, never quite getting the results they were looking for, they’re almost certainly suffering from tactic burn.
One of the things I love about small entrepreneurial businesses is that it can be a matter of hours between having a great idea and doing something about it. Decision-making is speedy and if there’s something new, or something doesn’t seem to working, you can quickly change course.
For marketing, this tends to mean that smaller companies are quicker to spot new approaches and to try them out. An MD might read an article on social media marketing on the way to work, and get a Twitter account set-up the moment they get to their desks.
One of the things I hate about entrepreneurial small businesses is that is can be a matter of hours between making an ill-informed decision and spending serious amounts of money. And, if something takes time to show results, or is seen to be boring, it’s often shelved too early.
For marketing, this can mean that an approach isn’t fully thought through before it’s tried, meaning poor implementation and poor results. This, in turn, can mean that a technique is disregarded with a… ‘tried that, didn’t work’ attitude.
To give an example, I’ve seen businesses outsource to a telesales team because they’re in need of some quick sales… and then when results aren’t delivered immediately they write off the technique altogether rather than thinking about training the callers, kitting them up with great content, running inbound campaigns that gives sales people a reason to call… or any number of things that take time to finesse, but can make telesales a real asset.
And it’s not just telesales; it’s PR, Adwords, SEO, sponsorship. You name it; I’ve probably seen it. Burnt fingers, and money wasted, with a poor supplier, or poor implementation, can effectively black-list a marketing tactic in the mind of the business owner thereafter. In jumping from one tactic to the next, an entrepreneur can build up a swathe of so-called ‘money wasting marketing rubbish’ that leaves them with very few things they believe work. Effectively fencing themselves into an exhausting feast and famine approach to new business generation.
Add to this that for many small business owners marketing is an activity alongside the day jobs. So, as well as the influence of personality types, it’s easy to see why it gets picked up when the pipeline looks dry, then dropped again as the demands of delivering today’s paying work push it to one side.
Marketing is less expensive, and at its most effective, when consistently delivered over a prolonged period of time using a complementary mix of coordinated techniques.
Think about it like exercise:
  • It’s best to integrate it into your every day life – a little marketing every day keeps your business front of mind.
  • You need a variety of exercise techniques to keep you fit and toned inside and out – you need a mix of marketing techniques to support each stage of a buying decision.
  • You can exercise for free, hire a personal trainer, or go to a gym – you can do your own marketing with free tools, outsource, and/or invest in high quality tools.
  • You can up your effort from time to time like if you’re running a marathon – a focussed period of marketing effort can raise your game to meet specific targets.
  • New diets, pills, fads, come along some of which are great, some of which won’t work but the fundamentals of what keeps you fit stays the same – marketing innovations come along almost daily, but human nature and how you appeal to it (as it’s people who buy things) remains the same.
  • If you stop exercises, you lose fitness – if you stop marketing you’ll lose awareness, goodwill and customers.
  • And, like exercise, effective marketing can be a chore at first, but after a while of sustained momentum… you’ll actually enjoy it, in fact you may become addicted.
So, I challenge you in 2011 to drop the binge and bust and to get marketing fit!
Bryony Thomas runs Clear Thought Consulting Ltd, which specialises in delivering marketing transformation programmes for small businesses with ambitious growth plans. A popular business speaker, CIM tutor and author, Bryony’s philosophy is to out-think, rather than out-spend, the competition. Bryony also blogs here and here.

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By michaelicollins
07th Mar 2011 19:15

I think we must know the same companies!

I have encountered this incredible facet of bad decision making and subsequent dismissal of the concept specifically in the area of data-driven marketing and CRM.

Last week I was speaking with a business turnaround expert who helps companies about to avoid insolvency or, in the case of those who have passed the line, to generate 'phoenix' businesses out of the ashes. He confirmed something that I have been including in my consultancy projects and in my lectures for both academic and professional audiences.

Two of the key reasons for SMEs going under are firstly: the inability to implement (or even measure) effective and efficient marketing; and secondly: the inability to recognise that not all business is good business and to continue to spend good money after bad on clients and prospects that will never be profitable.

It is at this time I go back to the office and seek out my cranio-mural interaction point 9the place I bang my head against the wall)!

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