Why You don’t Need a Marketing Strategy
How many small startups have a marketing strategy? I’d venture a guess as very few. No I don’t mean a “marketing plan” I mean an actual strategy with tactics, objectives, and intended outcomes. Rarely do startups care about marketing because if you have to rely on marketing to make your product or service successful you’re not going to be.
How many recent extremely successful products or services have grown exponentially because of a marketing strategy? I’d guess very few. The reason something catches fire is one part luck and one-part remarkability.
Remarkability: The odds that someone will talk about your company, product, service or organization.
Most business owners think of marketing as logos and commercials when really it about getting people to spread your story. There’s nothing traditional about marketing in 2016.
You don’t need a marketing strategy. A lot of people will tell you you do. Professors of marketing, those who’ve never practiced their theories just taught them in the classroom are the worst at spreading the lies about why you need a marketing strategy.
They’ll say you can’t be “off brand” and that every communication you make needs to be consistent.
“Mind your four p’s!” they’ll tell you, even though three out of the four are almost obsolete or useless for your company. Price, Place, Product, Promotion.
Marketing needs to start at the beginning of the planning process of your product or service.
I love the Seth Godin quote “Advertising is the tax for the unremarkable.”
Forget the 4 P’s, forget anything they told you in school about “marketing”. Go back to your earlier days in the grocery store. Remember the boxes of cereal and how many different kinds there were? How did you pick the one you wanted? Was it price? Was it the nutritional value of the cereal? Was it the commercial you saw during the Fresh Prince of Bell Air?
Nope, none of the above, the reason you picked the box you wanted was the free prize inside. That’s it. A simple little plastic toy could sway the minds of millions of people.
No marketing strategy, no high level thinking, no long term strategic planning, just a simple little idea that people weren’t just buying cereal, they were making someone in their family quite happy with what seemed like a useless gimmick. But it wasn’t a useless gimmick. McDonald’s has used it for years. Marketing a “free” toy to kids when their parents buy them a meal. Brilliant, we should call it a happy meal!
So What’s Your Free Prize Inside?
In the past 8 years in the marketing industry I’ve seen 30 to 50 page marketing reports chalk full of jargon, superlatives, long term plans and no tangible anything. Today we don’t believe in doing that. We believe in developing a simple idea, a free prize if you will. What do everyone of your customers get? No not your product/service, the feeling they get when they purchase and use your product/service? Do your customers get a feeling when they buy from you? What is it? What do customers anticipate when they’re about to buy from you? What could you do that makes them crave that moment? How will you get customers demanding what you provide?
If you think this is impossible you’ve already given up.
That intangible feeling you get is a part of your free prize. When you give someone something unexpected you create a feeling.
Enter Glorious Bastards.co
I’ve ordered from them twice now. The first time they delivered in the day after I ordered it (talk about a free prize!) also included was a hand written note thanking me for my beard and business. The second time the same delivery time, next day (which I still think is crazy), not only a hand written note but a free bottle of beard oil just to try. Who does that anymore?!
I instantly had to talk about them. I brought the whole package to the office to show the team! They’ve consistently over delivered, albeit only twice but they’ve created a loyal customer in me.
Your free prize could be the design of your product (Apple).
It could be the way people look at you when they see you carrying it (Louis Vuitton).
It could be the way people look at you when they see you wearing it (Canada Goose).
It could be just the experience and the sweet t-shirt you get after! (Tough Mudder).
It could be a different style of service (Westjet).
It could be nachos and pico de gallo before a meal (every restaurant in Mexico!).
It could be the ease of use and a feedback mechanism (Uber).
It could be the fact that you destroy every message sent using your service after 24 hours (Snapchat).
It could be the slippers and the way you’re treated (Layers Wellness).
It could be the way you followup with past customers (Deb Murdoch Mortgage Broker).
It could be the way the owner makes you feel when you stop by (Italian Star Deli).
It could be a big event you throw that raises $225,000 for a local charity (Wiegers Financial & Benefits).
Whatever you do just don’t assume you can’t. Don’t assume there’s no free prize in your industry. Or the best one I hear, “just working with us should be a free prize inside!” Get over yourself, you’re not that good.
Now I’ll leave you with this little note on advertising from Banksy.