It works until it doesn’t: The consequences of relying too much on one system or marketing model

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marketing strategy

Great marketing is easy, once we know what works. And it stays that way, until what works well no longer succeeds. The reason is simple: When we have found a winning formula, we can repeat it and adapt it to similar situations. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to pull it off. The catch is great things never generally last forever and that is where a systematic testing and evaluation process is vital.

Here is an example from direct experience.

Years ago, we learned that if we could onboard an owner or general contractor for a company or project report or profile, we could sell thousands of dollars to subtrades and suppliers through the active recommendations. We had a model, and went at it gung-ho, opening new publication in different markets to exploit the relationship-related sales method.

But ultimately over-reliance on the formerly powerful tool (for us) almost killed our business. Subtrades and suppliers began balking at the repeated “hits” on their budgets for advertising, and they soon caught on that the publisher, not the owner/general contractor was behind the relationship advertising push. In fact, some contractors through relevant associations began ganging up to say “no” to our requests.

Our business went into a nose dive — thankfully I was able to cut costs/operations and shrink things down just in time to avert total insolvency.

Now we’re doing things differently, with a variety of theme based models, which work with varying degrees of success but don’t have the same overwhelming market-destructing saturation effect.

And we still do the features and themes, just in a more moderate volume.

So when a community newspaper publisher friend of mine bragged about his success in using the relationship sales technique in one of his publications (crediting me for the idea), I told him: “Don’t get too excited — the model has its limitations.”

In your business, you probably have some “tried and true” approaches that appear to work, over and over, and it is quite right to build these models into your systems. I especially like any program that encourages and enhances repeat/referral business — or allows you to achieve “knowledge expert” status without spending a fortune on conventional media advertising and publicity. (Think speaking gigs, your website, and effective community service projects, for example.)

But it is helpful and important, in my opinion, to reach beyond your existing approaches and not need to rush to solve the problem in a business crisis.  Tomorrow, I’ll share some ways you can test/evaluate and experiment with new marketing ideas at truly low cost.

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