Stop Weaving in Traffic

It happens all the time. You’re late, or just in a hurry, flying through traffic. Maybe there’s even some horn honking as people are cut off by your intensity to reach your destination. You go left, you go right, and even slow down to change lanes and speed up. Then hear comes a light, and you’re stopped. All of the people that you were weaving through, while honking and cursing, come up to the same light after about 15 seconds. And then comes the, “you’re such a jackass” stare. I tell business people this all the time – stop weaving in traffic. You will eventually end up at the same place as everyone else.

As much as I may hate to admit it, a steady course, in driving as in business, is the surest way to your destination or goals. Marketing strategy is much the same way. To my hunter friends, marketing is not like firing bird shot that scatters and you hope to hit something. Instead, if you employ that strategy, you’re more likely to be like the driver getting the jackass stare than the proud hunter holding up the foul by the legs in the picture on the mantle. I have some tips that might help you decide on a marketing strategy. I like asking these questions of myself before any marketing campaign is undertaken – whether for small businesses or an initiative at a larger company.

How Much Money Do I Have to Spend?

Sounds simple – yes. But I’m amazed at the number of projects that go over budget because they don’t have clearly defined goals. Decide how much you have to spend and set your goals around that number. It is amazing what one can do on a budget. Once that budget is set, eliminate any unnecessary items from the plan that threaten to take that campaign over budget. If the budget is conditional, based on success, then query your consultant or marketing manager for potential ROI and take a modest estimate of their answer. If your website re-vamp will cost $300/per month; PR will cost $100/month; administrative expense of $800/month; display ad or cpc campaign expense of $200/month print material $500 total; merchandise discounts of 10% at $5 per item; expected incremental sales of 100 items over 2 months then you’ll find yourself $800.00 from breaking even. This budget isn’t even comprehensive but you see how costs can get out of control quickly.

Is My Strategy Clearly Defined?

Strategy is always tricky to quantify. I usually ask people if they like their family member or friend that is hard to figure out. One minute they’re fun-loving and the next they’re all stuffy and corporate focused. This can be a killer to your brand. When designing daily activity and campaign goals be sure it aligns with your overall strategy. This is paramount to your development as a brand name; trusted resource and dependable partner with your customers. Repeat purchase and referral business will be yours if customers know what they’re getting themselves into.

Is The Purchase Experience Unique?

One key to consistency that is often missed is the service experience. So many brands miss out on the opportunity to cement their brand’s identity at the most important and emotionally positive customer moment – at the sale. One of my favorite places to purchase cigars is Churchill’s. Even though they’re a chain, they have an “around the way” smoke shop experience. You can get a locker; sit in the smoke lounge and just hang out in the shop while blazing a stick. I love my neighborhood Churchill’s because of that experience. There are about four other smoke shops within a two mile radius, that I never patronize because the experience is not as consistent or fun as Churchill’s.

Would My Brand Be Considered a Niche?

If ¬†you can’t come up with a different product or service, develop a different emotive feeling around using that same product/brand. This is a culmination of the previous two points. A unique communications strategy coupled with a purchase experience that supports that strategy can help you be a niche product. Take Cold Stone Creamery Ice Cream Shops. They entered the crowded ice cream market with an idea that they would serve their ice cream chalk full of the goodies rolled in, via kooky acting ice cream servers. They furthered the kooky atmosphere with the sizing (Like it, Love it, Gotta Have it). Though it has been a while since I’ve been in one, I remember singing too. Regardless, they took a product in a crowded market and developed a niche out of the brand experience.

In these ways, I keep myself from bobbing and weaving  through the traffic of business communications, by taking specific courses of action that set me or my customer apart. These actions also give me a base to return to, when making decisions, that will keep me consistent with the core intent or personality I want to convey.

Are you still weaving through traffic and ending up at the same place as everyone else?

About Therran Oliphant

Therran Oliphant is a strong advocate for developing the academic and practical field of Integrated Marketing Communications. Holding an M.S. in Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) from Eastern Michigan University, Therran has been a staunch advocate for developing the theoretical, practical and applicable concepts of the field, especially as it comes to digital advertising and media. His main passion is helping marketers more accurately interface with the technology community and ask the right questions to help them accomplish the objectives their brand customers have set. A career in data and advertising technology has allowed him to have a unique perspective on the science of utilizing the right methodologies to systematically ask the right questions that lead to delivering the outcomes necessary for success.