The Right Strategy Wins

If you’ve tried everything, and nothing seems to be working, it could be your strategy.

After decades of working with business owners, I’ve found that even the most basic marketing tactics are effective when the right basic strategy is in place. And when no strategy (or a poorly chosen strategy) is in place, the world is a cruel place, regardless of even the best marketing efforts.

For example. a couple of insurance industry clients claimed that business was down about 30%. A strategy that served them well five years ago is no longer effective. Yet, another insurance company client is holding their own, even growing a bit. And yes, they have chosen wisely when it comes to strategy.

This isn’t a matter of tactics. It’s about having the courage to admit that your entire business, the products you sell, your pricing or manufacturing model or the markets you serve no longer offer a reasonable expectation of success. Few can win the battle against the large forces of the marketplace.

Tactics won’t help, regardless how polished. No direct mail, no telemarketing, no selling can turn the tide of a bad underlying strategy. It’s like banging your head against the wall.

Marketer Seth Godin stated it well:

“If you are tired of hammering your head against the wall, if it feels like you never are good enough, or that you’re working way too hard, it doesn’t mean you’re a loser. It means you’ve got the wrong strategy… It takes real guts to abandon a strategy, especially if you’ve gotten super good at the tactics. That’s precisely the reason that switching strategies is often such a good idea. Because your competition is afraid to.”

2 Step Tactical Marketing Using Print

1. Start with a great strategy. (see our post on strategies)

2. Create a postcard, mailer or brochure that speaks clearly to your strategy.

You can’t go wrong here. Your strategy encompasses your strengths and the deep needs of your customers. Your tactic is simply opening a communication channel with your customers.

Examples:

If your strategy is selling basic insurance product for the general construction industry, go back to step one.

On the other hand:

You’ve found that a niche market within the construction industry is resistant to economic turmoil, and you’ve created a strategic offering of products and services to appeal to that small segment. You’ve gained an understanding of the problems and concerns of companies within that niche.

Now: Designing that brochure, writing that letter and even finding more like-kind prospects who will be interested in your high value proposition, becomes effortless.

The Mother of All New Year's Resolutions

This isn’t about my needing to lose ten pounds, though that certainly woudn’t hurt.

Instead, it’s about sleeping at night, and making sure my family is well cared for. It’s about waking up with a smile on my face and excitement for the day ahead. When all is said and done, what else counts?

Think about it–

So many possibilites have briefly flashed through your mind. They’re part of a bright future just waiting to be lived, even if the path to that future isn’t completely clear. And there’s the big question: how to get there.

So now it’s a new year, a new chance to finally make it happen… or at least to start the journey.

So what’s next?

“Put it in writing,” it is often said. That’s the only way it will ever get done. Tape it to your bathroom mirror, so it’s the first thing you see in the morning and the last you see before bed. Beyond that, here are more ideas in a great blog post I stumbled upon.  Of special note is a tip to find support in a friend, co-worker, group or coach. Share your plan with people who will motivate you and keep you accountable, even when January is long past.

Here’s my dare: Share your top resolution with the world! And add it as a comment below (and/or in the FB panel at right.) I’ll act as your accountability partner and check in with you in a few months down the line. Of course, you’re welcome to reciprocate and hold me accountable too!

What’s my resolution? Get off the fence already! I’ve been juggling three major projects and really need to focus on one to move it ahead. IMO indecision = stagnation = frustration! That holds equally true for a brochure design or direct mail campaign. Only with clear direction can we reach our ultimate destination!

A Happy and Productive New Year to you!

It's a printing thing

I still get a rush from jogging a ream of printed brochures, freshly off the printing press.

It’s the same kind of rush your customer gets when she feels the rich texture of that paper between her fingertips.

When you’re designing for print, remember that the reader’s experience is tactile as well as visual. That’s why printing is unique and powerful. So choose your paper wisely, and you’ll communicate the benefits of your small business more powerfully. And that’s not to mention the potential savings in postage rates you get by making the right choice.

Paper selection is becoming a lost art. So much is printed on standard or “house” sheets, these days. That may save a bit of cost, but it also has that “me too” kind of impact on the user.

Come into our Rancho Cucamonga offices and you’ll find hundreds of paper swatches; it’s a feast for your fingers!

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