Navigating the Marketing Maze
As a kid, I loved activity books and puzzles. But there was one particular brain game with which I struggled. The dreaded maze. “Help the mouse get to the cheese.” “Pirate Jack has lost his treasure. Can you help him get to it?” Oh, the pressure!!
I would always (ALWAYS) do mazes in pencil for fear that I would head down the wrong path and my mistake would be forever immortalized in red crayon. Yes, I was a very dramatic child. Why do you ask?
My maze avoidance lasted until I found a way that seemed easier for me. A way that ensured a higher success rate and could get Pirate Jack to that shiny, overflowing treasure chest.
I started at the FINISH LINE and worked my way back to the START. Lines look like lines no matter which direction you’re drawing them in. So, I was creating the path Pirate Jack needed. Just in reverse. Starting at the end seemed to leave fewer paths to choose from and fewer options where I would stray and get stuck at Shark Island or Cutthroat Cove.
This idea can also apply to marketing communications. The FINISH LINE, in this case, is your business goal. If you start with the end in mind you can reverse engineer the best path to achieve your goals and avoid spending too much time going in the wrong direction.
You’ll need to first determine the following:
Who do you want to specifically reach (target audience)?
What do you want them to specifically do (objective)?
When do you want to see results (timeline)?
How will you accomplish your goal (strategies/tactics)?
What resources do you have to achieve the goal (money, time, relationships)?
When you answer these questions you won’t get drawn into an area of the marketing maze that you don’t want to or need to be in. This planning will take some time, but will save you lots of trouble later on.
Here is an example…
Your Finish Line: You want to reach women over 60 with an income of $100,000+, who love to travel. Your objective is to get them to attend a special travel expo and luncheon next month. And while you have a decent budget, you know you will be limited to a few powerful tactics that will resonate with your target demographic.
Wrong Turn: You’re approached by a local family magazine that targets young moms. The sales rep wants you to buy some ads. She mentions that grandmothers also read their magazine. You’ve got to make your decision soon since they go to press next week. Oh…and did she mention that if you commit to buying six more ads you’ll get an amazing rate?
Stay on Your Path: You could justify the purchase since you might reach your audience (surely a few of those grandmothers are wealthy travelers). However, this ad buy would pull dollars away from strategies and tactics you KNOW will reach your ideal audience. The allure of a special deal (who doesn’t like getting more bang for their buck) or the fear of missing a possible audience can be hard to avoid. But your path is clear based on how you answered those important questions above.