I’d like to say that I grew up differently than a lot of other boys… but that wouldn’t necessarily be true. Sure, I was a military kid, which made a big part of my life different from the norm, but all that did was make my experiences different.
This means that when I reached the age where I thought girls were pretty, I’d stare at them like most of the other boys. That is, we’d stare until we thought someone was looking at us, and then we’d look away quickly. It was like every class had a different pretty girl in it, someone new to stare at, and I’m not going to lie, my grades probably slipped for a short period of time until I learned how to stare and still listen to what teachers were saying.
This continued through high school, through college (even when I had a girlfriend; sorry Nanci lol), and through my first real job working at a music store. So many girls, then women, so many attractive and stunning… I could have gotten whiplash with all of that.
It finally ended after my first year of working at a hospital. The first reason wasn’t a conscious decision; the second reason was. The second reason was I wanted to be in management and realized that I wanted to make sure I treated everyone fairly, something I didn’t think could happen if I kept staring at the attractive ladies.
The first reason… at a certain point I realized it was a major waste of time. Why? Because I realized that if you’ve seen one attractive woman that not only were there more, but that they would always be around; if one left another would come, then another, then another. At some point I knew there wasn’t anything special about attractive women when compared to any other woman. In essence, I recognized the fact that, except in certain circumstances, women were women, and there was more to those I might be attracted to than their looks.
What does this have to do with marketing?
Did you know there are literally hundreds of different brands and kinds of spaghetti sauce? A lot of us have our favorites, but few of us think about why those particular brands are our favorites. Want to know why mine is? Because my mother bought it the first time when I was 13 years old, I liked it and that was that. There’s nothing anyone can do to change my mind on my favorite brand; it is what it is and it’s rare that I venture outside of what I like.
What about everyone else? If you don’t have a favorite brand of spaghetti sauce, what would tip your mind towards buying one, outside of someone recommending one to you? I went online to do some research; I wasn’t able to find the best selling spaghetti sauce, but I found the “best” spaghetti sauce… maybe. Here’s what I found:
Huffington Post – Giada de Laurentiis for Target — Vegetable Marinara
Family Circle – La Famiglia DelGrosso
Cooking Light – Rao’s Homemade Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce with Basil
Food Network – Trader Giotto’s Organic Tomato Basic Marinara
Bon Appetit – Barilla Traditional Marinara
Wow… that doesn’t help does it?
How about this:
In case you didn’t watch the video, Malcolm Gladwell was talking about Prego and their battle against Ragu, a brand their tests showed was considered an inferior product yet one they couldn’t surpass until they discovered something intriguing. Turns out they still couldn’t surpass Ragu with one product… but with multiple products, they finally knocked Ragu off the pedestal… at least for a while.
There are 3 major issues with marketing. The first is that there are a lot of other people and companies you’re competing with. The second is that it’s hard to figure out how to get your brand to be seen as being superior to other brands. The third is that sometimes it doesn’t matter if your brand is superior if someone else is already top dog; you might have to find a way to get around that so you can compete.
People in my local area and in Florida might remember a guy named Jim Shapiro. I can’t embed the video here, but I can link to one of them in case you need reminding or have never heard of him, one of the first lawyers (kind of lol) who advertised on TV. Instead, I’ll show you this one, which was quite popular in a 4-state area which includes New York:
That brings back memories doesn’t it? At the time of that commercial and the one I linked to, it helped drive revenues to unknown heights, to the extent that lots of other people started doing the same type of thing until, finally, the market was flooded with so many crazy commercials that they stopped making the kind of impact they used to and eventually started dwindling away.
This is proof of three things. The first proves that getting attention is key to success, even if you’re not that good (or fake). The second proves that it takes great effort to stand above the crowd, but you’ll probably only get a short term boost from it before everyone else starts copying you. The third proves that we all have to be willing to take chances, some of them pretty bold, because when all is said and done, getting that boost and making a lot of money is better than not making money at all… at least if you’re honest (these guys had problems later on; that’s what doing illegal things will do to you).
Marketing isn’t easy. That’s not quite true; marketing is easy; getting attention from your audience isn’t. The biggest question I always have for my business is how to get my marketing to the place where people are calling me up wanting to work with me instead of the other way around. After all, hospitals rarely call anyone looking for consulting, and they almost never pick up the phone in the C-suite (I know this one personally).
Outside of that area, I generate enough interest but never enough to get the people I want contacting me as often as I wish so I can become independently wealthy and eat nothing but hamburgers all day. Social media marketing is intriguing because it helps you reach out to way more people, but at the end of the day it might take a stunt like writing 12 posts in 3 days for a specific month on one blog or a blog post a day for a month or even a video a day for a month for the right audience to start finding you.
I’m not a master of marketing but there’s one thing I definitely know; we have to do it and we have to do it often. That’s pretty much the only bit of advice I can give you or take for myself. I mentioned above that there are so many attractive women that I stopped staring at them. Yet I know some famous attractive women, and I know them because their names keep popping up, their pictures keep popping up, they’ll end up on TV or in movies all the time… over and over and over. Repetition is key; you might not get your message through the first time so you have to keep pimping it out.
I tell myself this all the time, when things get slow and I’m wondering what to do next… do it again, keep doing it and then do it more! You can modify it all you want, but keep doing it. Get your message out, work on connecting with others, and unless you strike gold the first time around keep at it, rinse and repeat.
Do you have marketing tactics that work well for you? I’d love to hear about them.