Mmmm, sweat sock pie.

Parts is Parts But Pie isn’t Pie.
I’m often asked to consult on very narrow parts of a marketing and advertising program. For example: “Pete we just want to you tell us why our web site isn’t producing the number of leads we think it should.” Or, “Pete, just take a look at this direct mail piece and give us your recommendations as to how we can make it better.”.

The problem is my guesses probably won’t be any better than your guesses. Sure, I can make pretty good guesses because I’ve spent the last two decades solving these types of problems but ultimately we will still be guessing. Guessing is the antithesis of great marketing.

The trouble here is that we would only be looking at a tiny slice of the pie. Figuring out why the pie tastes terrible requires looking at the quality of all of the ingredients, the process of making the pie, checking the oven to ensure it’s working properly, ensuring the pie is the right kind of pie (nobody is going to like a pie made of sweat socks – apple might taste better). The pie is simply the end result of many steps. And let’s not forget the experience and talent of the pie maker.

In my experience, no single tactic (an advertisement, a direct mail piece, a web site, etc.) can be expected to move a B2B suspect to buy. It takes a coordinated series of contacts in multiple media formats to provide maximum performance of a marketing campaign. But even more importantly, these tactics must be based on a holistic view of all the factors that drive the buying decision. These factors typically can include:

  • How customers make buying decisions
  • Competitive offerings and methods
  • Industry trends
  • Perception of the brand
  • Relevancy of the message
  • Targeting
  • Pricing
  • Placement
  • Length of time campaign runs
  • and many more factors.

Once all of the factors are considered, it may be possible to make changes to specific tactics and improve said tactics performance. But if there are systemic problems within the organization or it’s marketing planning process – these issues must first be solved before any marketing program or promotional campaign can be expected to produce a real return on investment.

But making and selling great pie isn’t as simple as it might seem. You must use the best ingredients, measure these ingredients precisely (unless you’re my mother who has an uncanny knack for tossing handfuls of stuff into the pie and it turns out great every time), bake the pie at the right temperature for the right amount of time, display the pie for your customers and receive feedback as to how much they like it. And if the majority of the customers love your sweat sock pie, then you make more sweat sock pie. You don’t have to eat it. You just have to sell it.

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