Marketing folks are always thinking about marketing. I’m no different. Like many of my colleagues, I’m always looking for life lessons that can be applied to marketing businesses, products and services. I was at the firing range the other day after a busy week, letting off some stress from the business end of my Beretta 92FS 9mm pistol, when I realized that even it had some marketing lessons to teach me.
Don’t Dry Fire.
“Dry firing” is the act of pulling the trigger on a pistol when there is no round in the pistol. While you get a satisfying click, dry firing is generally considered a no-no. A pistol’s firing mechanism is designed to strike a round in the chamber, and if there is no round in the chamber, you risk throwing off the alignment – or worse – damaging you firearm.
The same concept can be applied to online marketing programs.
To me, “dry firing” is when a campaign is launched without the appropriate pieces being in place. Unfortunately this happens often and usually because of impatience. Another common cause is when the project has run behind schedule and the decision makers want to keep the original deadline without the project being ready to fire – so to speak. Rarely does the run-up to a marketing launch have any glitches.
The best an organization can do is adapt, but the worst it can do is to release that campaign without being ready. It’s a painful decision, but sometimes a little bit of pain is worth the subsequent benefit.
Use Quality Ammo.
There are lots of different types of ammo and they can be summed up like this; cheap ammo is bad. Not-so-cheap ammo isn’t. In the case of my Beretta, cheap ammo can cause anything from missed targets to internal explosions. The higher cost quality ammo will hit its target every time.
A marketing campaign’s ammo is its content – its design, layout and copywriting. It is critical that the highest quality talent be used to put your content rounds in the chamber.
Even people who can’t write well know bad copy. Even people who aren’t artists will be frustrated with poor design. Not every marketing campaign has to be a masterpiece; sometimes budget demands that, but use the best of the best in terms of the resources you have and give those resources the time they need to make sure your marketing campaign hits is mark and avoids an internal explosion.
Break It In.
You want to know how my Berretta fired the first time I took it out of the box? Pretty bad.
Why? Because pistols require a breaking in period. Usually anywhere from 50 to 200 rounds. This allows the gun to heat up and causes all of the components to adapt to one another. This period is also important because it is when you will probably realize that there is a flaw somewhere; the trigger is too tight, the firing pin isn’t catching. Catching these flaws early will ensure the enjoyment of your firearm.
A marketing campaign is no different; it has to be broken in and close attention has to be paid to it to ensure that the product is working as intended. Once the number of people viewing your campaign exceeds your internal group, problems may become apparent quickly. You have to adapt, and replace the parts that don’t work; that may mean replacing copy that is unclear or fixing programming bugs. This break-in period is often neglected by companies. They assume that once a campaign launches, it will work smoothly and as intended. This kind of thinking will result in poor reaction time when the inevitable problems arise.
Center Your Sights.
A range is a pretty big place. I could point my Berretta in many different directions and fire a round safely, but the most satisfying trigger pull will be for the one in the very middle of the target. That’s the sweet spot.
Every campaign has a sweet spot, but many are designed to be very broad and appeal to as large an audience as possible.
Campaigns are at their best when they are targeted to an intended audience in a language that appeals to them. If a business has multiple segments or target audiences, they are better served by carving up a single campaign into multiple campaigns and attempting to target more precisely.
Maintain. Maintain. Maintain.
The Berretta 92 is world famous. Police use it. Marines use it. Civilians use it. What they all have in common is that if they fail to maintain it, it will become useless. Cleaning it isn’t good enough; you have to oil it afterwards. This takes time and a bit of tender loving care. A firearm has a lot of little nooks where dirt, powder and residue collect. Making sure everything is in perfect order will give you accurate shot after accurate shot.
The same is true for online marketing programs. Long term programs must be maintained.
Take for example a campaign running on Facebook; if there are forms, those forms should be tested periodically to make sure they are working properly. You don’t want to find out that your forms haven’t been working for weeks only after someone complains. Does your Facebook campaign meet the technology requirements necessary? It may now, but maybe not in a week. You should budget for maintenance to make sure that as Facebook (or other frameworks) update and improve their systems that you improve the components of your campaign along with it. Periodic auditing and maintenance will allow you to be proactive instead of reactive.
So there you have it, these are the thoughts that popped into my head the last time I headed to the range. I have followed these rules with my Berretta and it has rewarded me with highly accurate – and satisfying – results.