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Marketing “Have Tos” You Do NOT Have to Do

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My resistance to this phrase may be a remnant from childhood. “You HAVE to eat your vegetables” comes to mind, with broccoli leading the charge. Aside from the fact that broccoli has the identical silhouette to a nuclear explosion, it reeks. Disguising it with melted cheese is no help; it’s like pouring chocolate sauce on liver. What a waste!

The directives came in waves. “You have to brush your teeth; you have to make up your bed; you have to quit shaving the cat.” That last one was probably true. For months, people asked if that cat had recently undergone surgery.

Yet, most people – especially those of us faking adulthood – don’t like being told what we “have” to do. Seems like an optionless, foreboding request. We tend to reel back, sensing a plot in the making. The following was no exception. –

I got an “automated call” on Saturday. Nothing I love more than chatting with a robot, especially one convinced I was “Myrna Stanley” and telling me “Your prescription is ready for pick up at the pharmacy.” The robot didn’t care I was detailing my boat, laying upside down with carpet cleaning vapors in my nose.

To prevent being called Myrna by another robot, I call the unnamed pharmacy whose initials and motto could be “Customers Vaguely Satisfied” to let them know a) the real Myrna is probably wondering why your robot hasn’t called her and b) I really need to get back to snorting carpet surfactants.

When I relayed the information, the first words out of her mouth were, you guessed it…

“You HAVE to call Customer Service at 1-800-…”

From there, it didn’t go all that well. Yet, look at what you’re told you HAVE to do in business, and what if none of it is really true? The HAVE TOs of the world are usually thinking “because that’s what the crowd is doing” instead of thinking strategically toward independence.

So, I offer “3 Common Marketing ‘Have Tos’ You DO NOT Have to Do”:

  1. You HAVE to be on Social Media– Correction: You have a life and business to run. If the brain drain and TIME invested in Social Media doesn’t pay off, why bother? Or if you’ve yet to find a business who has achieved a worthwhile return that you can model, no need to immerse yourself. In fact, anything more than about 30 minutes a day comes perilously close to your hard-earned overhead dollars going straight down the drain.

    If dollars per lead (in staff time) don’t yield a suitable ROI (around $75), change strategies or find a media that pulls better. Succeeding in Social Media isn’t as simple as “just showing up” as some would lead you to believe.

  1. You HAVE to use your co-op for ‘our’ ads –I’m probably about to get yelled at (oh, like this’ll be the first time), but hear me out: Offer to test ‘your’ preferred ad vs. the factory ad on sales results. Then see if they’ll co-op ‘your’ winning ad over the one designed by people who may have never met an actual customer. If you’ll approach the manufacturer this way, you BOTH get what you want: more leads, more sales, for the same or less marketing cost. (Plus, you’ll have a unique ad instead of the ‘me too’ stuff the others are running.)
  1. You HAVE to use Slick Mail pieces– Could this advice be any worse? Who made this up? We regularly trounce this silly notion during side-by-side tests, with multiple times the dollars resulting. The point is that you only HAVE to be sane about your ROI. Customers care more about the benefits they receive for doing business with you than they do about pretty pictures of babies romping through daisy fields with puppies.

By the way, that doesn’t mean your pieces can look like your three-year-old made them. They should still be neat, checked for typos and easy to read. List your value clearly and with a compelling call to action, and Direct Response done right will trump “slick” pieces every time.

Contractor friends, you don’t HAVE to do anything in marketing that doesn’t:

  • Have a measured outcome that you desire.
  • Have a track record worth emulating.
  • Get you closer to YOUR goal (instead of sacrificing your goal to meet someone else’s!).
Adams Hudson

Posted In: Sales & Marketing

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