Why "Your Best Marketing Idea" is a Bad Idea

· Marketing,Marketing Tips,Marketing Strategy,Marketing Ideas,Marketing Stories

Marketing Storytime!

You know how the mere sight of someone can make you cringe?

Back when I was offering live training around San Antonio weekly, I had an individual who would follow me to pretty much every single training. I’d go around town to perform different training sessions on sales, marketing or people management, and he would be there, almost every time. And every time I saw him in the audience, I’d cringe.

Not because of anything personally wrong with him, but because I knew we were about to have the exact same conversation we’d had way too many times.

At the end of every training, he would wait at the back of the line of people who wanted to talk to me. And every time, he would have the exact same question when we got to the end of the line. Upon reaching me, he’d look me in the eye, reach into his pocket, and say “In my pocket I have a crisp $(some number between 5 and 100) and it’s yours if you give me your best marketing idea for my business.”

Eventually, he found my number and started calling at completely random intervals instead.

Which was weird, but here’s what really rubbed me wrong about it.

Yes, I’m aware that the fact that he kept pursuing me after I told him “I can’t do that” repeatedly was creepy enough, but the deal breaker was that I kept telling him that “That’s not how marketing works” and it never seemed to sink in. 

That’s Not How Marketing Works!

Marketing ideas don’t just fly off the shelf when you want to pull one out of your hat.

While it may look like that based on watching a group of marketers come up with something brilliant while throwing out tons of ideas, the key to remember is that most of the ideas that get thrown out are absolute rubbish. 

The key to this?

All of these marketing people are immersed in the business that they are marketing for. They understand the target market, the marketing message, the point of the communication, etc. Their goal isn’t to figure out just what’s going to go viral, it’s to figure out how to communicate their message in a catchy/creative way. 

It’s worth it to note that marketing doesn’t work well in isolation. Businesses who want a magic bullet are looking for trouble. There is no single marketing solution that is going to save any business. It’s a well executed plan with a plethora of ideas that come together to back a solid sales conversion system that will help a business flourish. 

In other words, there’s so much going into marketing that walking up to someone and asking for their best marketing idea isn’t going to work well. In the end, you’d be more frustrated than anything by trying to pursue this type of marketing.

“My best marketing idea” isn’t going to help anyone because it won’t work in isolation. 

If I’ve just crushed your marketing hopes, hang on for a second! 

Because here’s what you need to do instead.

Instead of looking for “a really great marketing idea”, step back what you’re looking at. Take a really solid look at the core, fundamental pieces of your marketing: who you’re talking to and what you’re trying to communicate. If you scale back your view to focus on these two aspects of your marketing, it gives you a chance to think of something creative and fun that will communicate with your audience and tell them what you want it to say.

For Example:

We did some mailers recently. But I know, you’re thinking...


Who even does mailers anymore? Aren’t they dead??

Ok, maybe not quite that dramatically. But! Most people are aware that mailers don’t really work well anymore. There are too many going out and our audience doesn’t have time to actually look through their mailer offers to see which ones are worth looking at.

Which is why we knew we had to do something different the whole way. (If you’re looking for a great way to understand this concept, check out Mike Michalowicz’s book Get Different! No, I don’t get anything from sending you to his site. Just the satisfaction of sending you to the same person who helped me.)

But we also know that our audience appreciates the effort that goes into physical marketing. So we knew a mailer was a good idea if done right, especially since our event message is “Unlike Anything You’ve Experienced” [which meant our mailer had to live up to that promise too!]. That’s where we started getting creative!

Creative Different #1:

The first thing we did that was different and creative, was the envelope.

Everyone’s got the standard sized envelopes, even the envelopes that have branding on them are standard sized. So we went for a Manila sized envelope that doesn’t open from the top like normal, but instead opens from the side. And in addition to that, we had our crazy branding on the envelope too.

Creative Different #2:

Secondly, we put personalized letters in each mailer.

99% of mailers are mass-produced items that say “I don’t care about you personally, I just want your money.” That is nowhere near what our marketing message says, so we went the step beyond and personalized letters in each envelope. We weren’t going to send these mailers to people we didn’t know were in our audience, so we made sure they were going to people who would appreciate them and enjoy the creativity in them. 

Creative Different #3:

Finally, we found an additional way to make the mailers unique. We included cubes!

Yes, it ships flat. And once you receive it, it pops up into a cool cube with inspirational quotes and branding designs on it.. So we knew that the cute, unusual aspect of it would stick in the minds of our audience.

So where am I going with this?

The whole mailer is built around our message and our audience. It didn’t appear out of nowhere and it certainly didn’t come from waiting in line at a Meet-And-Greet at an event. It came from spending time getting intimately familiar with our marketing message and audience, and thinking like them to figure out how to communicate well to them.

If you’re struggling with your marketing and you’ve looking for the “coolest marketing idea” out there, take a step back. Stop looking for the “Best Marketing Idea” and start getting intimately familiar with your brand message and target audience.

Once you get there, the cool marketing ideas will come flying out of you when you brainstorm.

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