Fixing Your Marketing; The Penguin Problem

Create our own waddle.

Reason #1 why your marketing doesn’t work – You are using Big Business marketing rules. If you’re playing by their rules, you’re going to lose just about every time. Make up your own rules and you’ve got a better chance of your marketing working.

It’s a problem of penguins.

Marketing is noise – 1,000 penguins on a rock outcropping. It’s like white noise out there. What do I mean? The biggest competitor in the industry spends $1,000,000 on advertising and grosses $10,000,000 in revenues – a nice 1 to 10 return ratio. So we assume that if we spend $10,000, we’ll get $100,000 back – 1 to 10 – right? Wrong. Why? Because we’re focused on the wrong ratio.

Back to the penguins. Our $10,000 is fighting with their $1,000,000 for attention. They own 990 penguins all making noise for them, and our solution is to add 10 penguins to the same rock to make noise for us. Our penguins are drowned out every time.

And worse yet, we’re competing against everyone advertising in the medium we’re using, so it’s really tens of thousands of penguins against our 10. The marketing noise is deafening. We don’t stand a chance if we play by big business rules.

I met someone starting a small business who was about to put 100% of their $10,000 annual marketing budget into newspapers – a few penguins up against thousands. We got her to redirect the funds. (FYI – If you’ve got thousands of penguins or a paper with a unique niche, newspapers can work.)

Until they have a big enough budget to place more penguins on the rock, how could they spend that money better? Understand this: the two last words of a dying marketing program are “Me, too.” Everyone else is advertising in a certain medium, so I think I better be there, too. That seems reasonable, but is the best way to waste your money. Instead, ask yourself, “What could I do to make a noise where no one else is squawking?”

I do a weekly lunch workshop with 35-50 business leaders and once a quarter I’ll ask “Of the four major ways to market ourselves (advertising, direct marketing – including cold calls, public relations, relationship marketing) which one brings you the overwhelming majority of your clients?” If there are 40 people there, 39 answer “relationship marketing” and the other guy didn’t understand the question.

If you spend time and money building a network of gate-openers and raving fan clients, you win. The big guy with lots of money doesn’t have your relationship network and would never invest the time to create that network. Until you’re big enough to own a big “waddle” of penguins (yep, that’s a penguin herd), put your dough into relationships.

By creating your own marketing rules, you beat the big guy, because he actually can’t afford to play by your rules! All he can do is keep throwing money at the problem. And since you’re penguins aren’t on his rock, he’ll never beat you no matter how big his waddle is.