Please Keep Giving Us Quick Fixes

t_newhard_kPlease check out the following article and tell me whether you know more about marketing or not:

Are you back? I should say that this author may have had the best intentions in writing this article or perhaps it is another way to sell ad space. There is a difference between knowing tactics and knowing marketing. The author says these tactics are “must-try,” but some of these “tactics” cost several thousand dollars. It would be great if we all had $5,000 to “just try something out,” but most businesses don’t.

Let me tell you something about project management. Project management is a discipline of business that has been well studied. One of the most basic principles of project management is the principle of constraints; every project has constraints. Nearly all project managers acknowledge the existence of 3 project constraints: Time, Scope, and Cost (Budget). Constraints limit what is possible because time and money are finite (scope limit is usually bound by time and money, but imagination usually makes scope seem limitless). If one increases scope one must increase time or cost. If one decreases time and keeps scope the same, one must increase cost. One cannot simply wish for something and have it happen without compromise or consequence – there are real world constraints in play.

Like project management and most other things in life – there are no quick fixes in business and marketing.

So why do people keep trying to sell us on the idea that quick fixes exist? Do they think we are idiots? I assume that they do not; however, they never miss a chance to capitalize on human nature (we love instant gratification) and laziness.

People are perhaps more susceptible to marketing trickery because marketing seems so easy on the surface – just buy some ad space, a phone book placement, and a website and “poof” sales magically happen. Marketing is not this simple, though it might appear to be, and it is certainly not magic.

Marketing is more that advertising and creativity; it is tied into the disciplines of anthropology, sociology, psychology, fine art and business. Good marketers realize this. Perhaps an example will better describe this point:

A couple of years ago a client came to us with a common problem, low sales – he hired us to help him achieve “better” sales. Going into the situation we knew as much about the details of the situation as you do currently. So, knowing what you know about the situation, how would you help this guy? Would you tell him he needs to “try” social media? Perhaps you would tell him to re-do his website and buy a monthly SEO package? These are all well-intentioned and well educated guesses at best. In order for us to suggest a plan of action to him, we needed to understand what “better sales” meant.

The identification and analysis of key success metrics is key to understanding what “better” is. After we did this with this particular client “better” went from an abstract desire to a tangible and easy to understand operational goal. It is only after the establishment of a goal that strategy can be thought about through the right lens. It is only after the establishment of strategy that good tactics can be implemented.

To get our client to this point it took a lot of research and statistical analysis. It took an understanding of his target market and consumer behavior. It took a certain level of local knowledge and an understanding of sociological trends. It took knowledge of corporate culture and organizational development. After all of this it took a great degree and creativity and marketing know-how.

How did our client perform after all of this. Within two months he was achieving “better” sales at a statistically significant level and he did this for 6 out of the next 8 months. If we had not incorporated many disciplines into our approach, we would have failed miserably and our client would have wasted a lot of money on us.

Marketing is more than quick fixes. Those that surrender to the temptation of a quick fix are, by the constraints of business, doomed to make unwilling compromises in cost and quality – and are more likely to waste money taking well-intentioned and educated guesses.